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Breastfeeding Awareness Month

August is “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” and the first week is dedicated to world breastfeeding awareness week. Breastfeeding provides many benefits to mothers such as health and financial benefits. The average cost of baby formula across many popular brands can average between $1200 and $1500 during a baby’s first year. According to World Health Organization, universal breastfeeding could save about 820.000 infant lives each year (Kids health, 2018). Research has shown that babies that are breastfeed in their first year of life are healthier. The many health benefits included:

  • Antibodies to protect against many common infections
  • Well balanced meal.
  • Lower risk for medical condition
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

The Stigma 

While most mothers are blessed to have the ability to breastfeed, there are many mothers that are not so lucky. Breastfeeding has been linked to increased anxiety and postpartum depression in many mothers due to the difficult decision of whether to breastfeed or formula feed. The experience of becoming a mother can be both an isolating and challenging experience due to the exposure of physical, psychological and emotional burdens that are placed on new moms. From labor, to sleepless night, loss of independence, interferences in careers and the havoc on a woman’s body, breastfeeding can become an added stress. According to the CDC, only 25% of babies are exclusively breastfeed at six months in comparison to the 46% of babies breastfeed at three months (Kids Health,2018).

“If I had allowed my identity and basis of being a good Mother be defined by that, I would definitely have been crushed, but I continually had to tell myself this does not define me as a Mom. I am a good Mom who loves her baby and doing the very best she can.” (Kruse, 2018)

As seen today, many new moms want to feel normal and get back to their “normalized” lives. Breastfeeding can be viewed as an interference unlike the convenience of formula feeding. Moms that actively breastfeed have to do so every 90 minutes to maintain a healthy milk supply which can interfere with other household duties and the careers of working moms. In today’s society, the term “Breast is Best” is used to encourage mothers to choose breastfeeding over the use of formula. Many new moms struggle with thought of whether they are being a good mom by what society views as acceptable vs, what is more accommodating to get their normalized lifestyle back.

“It’s wonderful that breastfeeding is so highly encouraged, however with that much expectation, it felt like I was doing something wrong by choosing to switch to formula.” (Kruse, 2018)

As a new mom myself, I can remember the struggle and pain I felt when I could not maintain my own milk supply to feed my baby. In my original birth plan, I pictured myself exclusively breastfeeding my daughter for the first year but that quickly changed. Because I was not educated properly on proper lactation techniques, I quickly lost my milk supply after the birth of my daughter. I remember the feelings of inadequacy and not feeling like a traditional mom because I had to supplement with formula to meet the requirements needed to make sure my child was healthy and thriving. Still with a limited milk supply, I did the best I could for the first 4 months to give my child the added benefits of breast milk. With time and acceptance, I had to learn to be ok with my decision and find what method worked best for me and my daughter.

Is Breastfeeding for you?

Whether breastfeeding is for you or not is entirely up to the you. The answer to that question is do what best for you. Becoming a mom is already a stressful life changing event that creates a lot of life changing emotions. Whether it is your first child or your last, a new baby is a joyous experience that should be celebrated without any added stress. Postpartum depression and anxiety are real occurrences that many moms struggle with and the stigmas associated with breastfeeding can add to those stressful emotions. Whether a mom chooses to breastfeed of not is entirely up to her but does not equivalate with the stigma the “I am a bad mom”. Yes, breast milk provides many health benefits, but every situation is different, every mother is different, and every baby is different. It is crucial for any mom to be aware and confident with their own personal decisions when it comes to themselves and their babies.

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