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New Beginnings: Breast Practices

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that women breastfeed for a year.  The decision about how long to feed is influenced by culture, competing responsibilities such as work and personal preference.  

The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) estimates that 60 % of women do not breastfeed for as long as they initially planned.  Nearly 80 % of women attempt to breastfeed. However, less than half of all babies are breastfed at six months. Understanding reasons for the decline in numbers after 6 months can help to encourage increased rates of nursing.

There are many challenges to nursing even when moms know that breast is best.

Early challenges to breastfeeding include difficulty latching, having adequate supply and postpartum pain and mood changes.  It is important to have a team to support women through this time. Lactation consultants, pediatricians, midwives, family physicians, and nurses can all be helpful in supporting moms through this difficult time.  Seeing a lactation consultant early is ideal.

Later challenges are a bit more complex.  These may include the challenges of managing work, other siblings and even challenges in finding facilities in public places to allow for continued nursing.

It is very important to not stigmatize women who choose not to breastfeed for medical or psychological reasons.  However, for women who want to breastfeed, it is imperative that we encourage and assist women to be able to achieve their own desired length of time for nursing.  

These three strategies may help with achieving your own breastfeeding  goals:

  1. Plan ahead.  Meet with a lactation consultant and your primary care provider to ensure that you have a plan in place prior to delivery.
  2. Have a support system in place for the early stages of nursing.  Plan to see a lactation consultant in the hospital and soon after discharge.
  3. Be aware of what is breast friendly in your environment.  Shop at malls with dedicated nursing areas or with places that you can comfortably feed or pump.  

Breastfeeding is good for baby and good for mom.  It is also great for the “mother-baby dyad” as it creates a phenomenal bond between mom and baby.

Dr. Bhooma Bhayana is a family physician in London and the mother of two young men and grandmother of one lovely princess! She continues to find wonder and enjoyment in family practice despite more than 30 years on the job!


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