Next week is World Breast-feeding Week. “Breast-feeding Support: Close to Mothers” is the focus for the week, which highlights the importance of providing support to breast-feeding families.
This year’s theme features all aspects of support including utilization of breast-feeding peer counselors, mother-to-mother support groups and international board-certified lactation consultants. Support can also be expressed in many forms by family and friends, employers, health care providers, childcare providers and the community at large.
The Centers for Disease Control released the results of study a few months ago regarding women’s breast-feeding goals. The article revealed that out of 1,500 pregnant women, 85 percent planned to breast-feed for at least three months. But of those 1,275 women, only a third reached that goal. Why is that and what happened?
Maybe the better question for those who plan to breast-feed is “What can you do to be among those to reach your breast-feeding goal?”
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Two important steps for meeting your breast-feeding goal are to have realistic expectations of breast-feeding and to do your research. Most of us have grown up in a bottle-feeding culture. How many of us as young children pretended to feed our baby dolls with a bottle of milk? Or better yet, a baby bottle of juice? At a young age, we learned about bottle-feeding behaviors such as scheduled feedings and pre-measured amounts of formula.
However, babies who breast-feed eat more often and consume varying amounts when compared to bottle-fed babies. They eat on their own schedule, sometimes as frequently as every hour. They might nurse on only one side for one feeding and then at both the next. They might nurse for five minutes or lounge around nursing for 20 minutes. Breast-feeding babies are not exact and should not be scheduled. They don’t drink the same amount for the same period of time at the same time each day. Do you?
In order to increase your confidence as a breast-feeding mother, it is important to know what normal behavior is, what the normal ranges are and when to seek help. When in doubt, turn to others who are supportive and knowledgeable about breast-feeding.
It is also important to know what help is out there. There are great resources for breast-feeding in Centre County.
International board certified lactation consultants are health professionals with an expertise in lactation and breast-feeding management. IBCLCs are required to pass a stringent exam that assesses their knowledge and ability to provide evidenced-based breast-feeding support. You can find one locally with the “Find a Lactation Consultant” directory at www.ILCA.org. The La Leche League provides mother-to-mother support at their semimonthly meetings, and accredited leaders provide breast-feeding support between meetings.
Another local resource for the Centre County area is the Penn State Breast-feeding Support Program which provides breast-feeding classes, equipment, and support to Penn State faculty, staff, students and their spouses/partners.
Breast-feeding support is here in Centre County. We all want to help you reach your breast-feeding goal.