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Breastfeeding: the Good, the Bad, and the Lactation Consultant

March 28, 2024
Ahma & Co Team
Image Credit: Jonathan S. Borba
Image Credit: Jonathan S. Borba

Disclaimer: While this article will focus on breastfeeding, it is important to acknowledge that breastfeeding is a choice not available to all, and there are many reasons why a mother may not or cannot breastfeed.

Breastfeeding can be one of the most unique and personal experiences a mother shares with her child. There are many benefits that accompany this experience. For newborns, breastfeeding helps them to develop and strengthen their health in many different ways. For one, breastfeeding is an ideal source of nourishment, full of nutritional value unique to the developmental needs of a newborn and delivering just the right combination of fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and protein. For another, breastfeeding carries incredible immunological and anti-inflammatory benefits, which defends babies from harmful illnesses and diseases. Antibodies from mothers are transferred to babies through breastmilk, which is especially effective as newborns await their vaccinations. Breastfeeding has been found to decrease babies’ chances of contracting diseases such as asthma, obesity, severe lower respiratory disease, and gastrointestinal infections. This list is far from exhaustive, as evidence supports wide-ranging decreases in morbidity and hospitalizations.

Even for the mother, breastfeeding can be beneficial as it promotes a stronger and faster recovery from delivery. The hormones released in breastfeeding, namely oxytocin, help the uterus return back to pre-pregnancy size and can help reduce postpartum bleeding. Additionally, studies have indicated that breastfeeding potentially decreases a mother’s chance of developing ovarian and breast cancer. Breastfeeding also helps in mother and baby bonding. The same hormone, also released during birth, orgasm, hugging, and skin-to-skin contact, is said to decrease anxiety and stress while increasing desire for social interaction. This is why oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone.” The presence of this hormone can foster feelings of empathy and trust, promoting bonding between the mother and the baby. 

With benefits like these, it is no wonder why breastfeeding is so heavily endorsed. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all mothers who are able should exclusively breastfeed their children from birth until their child is six months old. Over 80% of mothers in the United States report breastfeeding their newborns at some point.

Breastfeeding for every mom is unique and doesn’t always come easily. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of mothers report that they did not breastfeed for as long as they had hoped to. New mothers experience a range of challenges when attempting to breastfeed, and the CDC notes that common challenges that emerge within breastfeeding include: issues with lactation and latching, concerns with infant weight, and unsupportive cultural and workplace norms. Without help and guidance, these challenges often become too overwhelming to navigate alone.

In an article about Danish mothers’ first experiences breastfeeding, new moms reported getting help from health professionals who could support them with practical and informative assistance. The presence of health professionals who stayed in contact and provided continual support in a mother’s breastfeeding journey greatly increased her success and ability to breastfeed.

Lactation consultants offer personalized support to each mother on the most crucial aspects of breastfeeding, such as how to increase the milk supply, finding the best nursing position, and managing breast pain. Proper guidance and education from seasoned specialists can aid the mothers in overcoming the challenges that often force them into feelings of defeat. Not only do the consultants act as an educator to find a breastfeeding solution, but also as a confidante who empowers women to understand their bodies and make educationally informed decisions.

Choosing to breastfeed and learning how to do it properly can be extremely personal and difficult. The experience varies for every mother and baby; however, no one has to do it alone. The support of an expert can help a new mom navigate every bend and curve in the art of breastfeeding.

Ahma & Co Team

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