The first week of October is Breastfeeding Week in Canada. It’s a time to focus on the enormous benefits that breastfeeding offers both babies and moms, and also to maintain our awareness of the many barriers and obstacles that mothers face in wanting to breastfeed their babies.
Good nutrition for babies begins before they are born. We know that what we eat impacts our babies’ development in the womb. With clear guidelines we can all provide a healthy, and optimum nutritional environment for our developing babies.
Once our babies are born we want to continue to provide them with the best nutrition we can and nature has designed the perfect food to feed our babies – breast milk. It is now accepted that breast milk is the perfect food for babies, providing every nutrient they need for the first six months of life. Breast milk also provides living immunities to babies thereby preventing a wide range of illnesses and health problems.
Most moms want to provide their babies with the very best nutrition, but sometimes breastfeeding can be challenging. Although it is “natural” it is not instinctive. Both mothers and babies need to learn to breastfeed.
Up until the middle of the 20th century everyone breastfed, and girls learned all about it long before they became mothers. If they had breastfeeding challenges there were always lots of women who knew what to do. With the aggressive marketing of formula starting in the 40’s, we became, very quickly, a bottle feeding culture, and the breastfeeding wisdom of timeless generations was lost. Since then, mothers learn to breast feed in relative isolation, and, depending on where they live, when they have problems there may be few resources to turn to.
The reality is that mothers need support when they are breastfeeding. Sometimes they just need some solid information and good technical know how to help them solve their difficulties. Most moms, whether they are having specific problems or not, just need a good dose of encouragement, appreciation, love and acknowledgment (plus a few meals in the freezer!).
The research is very clear that the biggest determining factor in moms’ breastfeeding experience is the wholehearted support of their partners, their families, and their friends. YOU can be a breast feeding mom’s biggest booster by providing encouragement, praise, love and acknowledgment for all she is doing for her baby. If she is having problems, encourage her to get help, support her in any success she has, whether she is feeding full time at the breast, or pumping, or needing to supplement.
We are all committed to providing the very best nutrition we can to babies. If we “nourish” breastfeeding moms, they will in turn nourish their babies.
So think of yourself as an advocate for healthy, well nourished babies. Smile at moms when you see them nursing their babies and give a hug to every breastfeeding mom you know! And if you are a breastfeeding mom, give yourself a big hug, and a nice, relaxing, hot bath!
Happy Breastfeeding Week!
Here are some very reputable online breastfeeding resources. Please not that there are many breastfeeding websites, many of which offer confusing and inaccurate, poorly researched information. The following websites are trustworthy. :
On the local level, be sure to connect with and make use of local resources including:
- Your local La Leche League,
- Local Lactation Consultants
- Public Health Nurses
- Breastfeeding clinics
- Breastfeeding supportive physicians.