Can we just stop and give a hand to all the awesome moms out there? This mom thing is hard, and you’re rocking it, sister! Especially if you’ve made the commitment to yourself and your baby to carry on with breastfeeding. It’s not easy, but it’s oh so rewarding and has tremendous health benefits for your child. Since August is National Breastfeeding Month, let’s talk about why it’s so important.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your child has many benefits, not only physically and emotionally, but mentally as well. Some studies suggest that breastfed babies, on average, have higher IQs than those who were formula-fed. Researchers are still trying to pinpoint exactly why, but it may be due to the fatty acids in breastmilk that are thought to be “brain boosters.” Not only that, breastfed babies also tend to stay in school longer, and earn more money as adults! Here are some of the other clear benefits to breastfeeding.
Benefits for Baby
- Antibodies in breastmilk help protect baby from viruses, infections, and disease.
- Causes less stomach upset, gas and constipation than formula.
- Decreases risk of SIDS.
- Helps form bonds between mother and baby.
- Promotes a healthy weight by learning to self regulate their milk intake.
- May improve cognitive development.
Benefits for Mom
- Helps with weight loss postpartum
- Helps the uterus shrink back to normal size faster.
- Delays the return of menstruation and ovulation.
- May help prevent postpartum depression.
- Financial benefits – breastfeeding is free!
Maximizing Breastfeeding Benefits
Any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial. Experts recommend breastfeeding for a year, but if you can only make it two months, it’s better than nothing! But breastfeeding can be stressful. Some moms struggle with latching, others with keeping up their milk supply, but there is help for all those things! In the end, even if you have to supplement with formula, any amount of breastmilk you can give to your baby is beneficial. Here’s how you can make it work.
Problem: Baby Won’t Latch
Solution: Meet with a lactation consultant. Your local hospital or pediatrician should be able to recommend one, or check out this directory to find one close to you. The consultant will watch you breastfeed, identify any problems, and help you correct what you may be doing wrong.
Problem: Low Milk Supply
Solution: Drink more water! Water creates milk. There are also several herbal supplements and teas you can try. Fenugreek, milk thistle, and mother’s milk tea are a few options. It’s also important to continue taking prenatal vitamins, DHA, and folic acid while breastfeeding. Shop for supplements to help support breastfeeding from trusted brands such as Genestra, Gaia Herbs, NOW Foods, Herb Pharm, and Metagenics – all available through NHC.com and Natural Healthy Concepts’ retail stores.
Problem: Sore Nipples, Pain While Breastfeeding
Solution: Apply ice packs to the affected area for instant relief. Also use an organic nipple cream such as this one by Motherlove before and after feedings to prevent blisters and irritation. For severe cases, nipple shields may help.
The benefits of breastfeeding are tremendous, and the time in your life that you have to devote to doing it is quite short in retrospect. What are the things that kept you going? Tell us in the comments below!