According to the World Health Organization, the lives of approximately 220,000 children could be saved each year if all babies were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of their lives, and continued nursing through the age of 2. Figures like that are amazing to me, because their implementation seems so simple and accessible to all, and nursing does not necessarily require any special equipment (unless you are pumping).
What is it about breastfeeding that makes it so important? The process of nursing releases oxytocin (aka the love hormone), which helps moms bond with their babies. Mothers help support their little ones' developing immune systems and fight off illness when sick. Not mention the unmatched nutritional benefits, the soothing emotion for baby's growing pains, and the comfort of snuggling with mommy!
I know how frustrating breastfeeding can be. Babygirl and I struggled for the first four weeks, and I had to pump and bottle-feed her before we finally succeeded -- and it felt amazing! I truly did feel an incredible emotional shift in our relationship at that point. I will admit that between her growing into a toddler, going back to work, and wanting more time to myself, it does get frustrating sometimes. I actually did attempt to wean her at one point when she was about 9 months, but now she is almost 16 months old and we are still going strong. I guess we will continue as long as it works for us!
Here are some helpful resources and information so that other moms who are struggling with balancing breastfeeding can find the support they seek to continue:
- Moms in northern Virginia can contact our local La Leche League leaders and groups. For more information about finding this breastfeeding support group if you are outside the area, you can find other moms near you by navigating through the LLL International page.
- If you're more of a bookworm, I recommend The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I actually read this cover to cover before Babygirl was born, and it helped me envision what life with a little one would be like. It has tear-out reference pages, and I have pulled it off the shelf more than a few times for help with the questions and challenges I've come across.
- Reach out to other family and friends. I've found that other nursing moms are happy to share their experience and give tips when I needed them. My grandma showed me a hold that was much more comfortable and easier than any of the lactation consultants I met with suggested!
- Exclusively Pumping Rules was an incredible resource to me when I needed it. Check out their tips if you are a working or otherwise pumping momma.
- KellyMom answers seriously almost any question about breastfeeding you might have, from what to do when your little one won't latch on to how to care for a stash of frozen milk when the power goes out.
- For more helpful reference sheets or information about the recommended guidelines for breastfeeding, please explore the World Health Organization's Breastfeeding site.
The Yuppie Hippie