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Benefits of Breastfeeding

POSTED BY Ann Cunillera, RN, Lactation Consultant
August 15, 2019  
“Support Changes Everything” is theme for Breastfeeding Awareness Month 2019.

Feeding baby human milk from the breast is the healthiest option for both mom and baby, and the support women get from family (especially their own mothers), friends, significant others, support groups and co-workers and bosses is key indicator of whether she will be successful at breastfeeding or not.

There are so many benefits of breastfeeding, but perhaps the biggest ones, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, are:

  • Essential nutrition – everything a baby needs to grow and develop optimally
  • Protection against common childhood infections and better survival during a baby’s first year of life including a lower risk of SIDS
  • Reducing risk of asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes
  • Potentially improving cognitive development
Breastfeeding isn’t a one-size-fits-all designation. There are mothers who feed their babies exclusively and directly from the breast, and there are those who both nurse and use a breast pump to acquire breast milk for their babies. There are also those who breastfeed and supplement with formula occasionally.

There is also another group of breastfeeding mothers that need to be included in all breastfeeding conversations and categories: the “exclusive pumpers.” This group comprises the 5 to 7 percent of breastfeeding mothers who, for whatever reason, cannot nurse their babies the traditional, and largely preferred, way.

About 70 percent of exclusive pumpers cannot breastfeed directly because the baby refuses to latch, and a quarter experience other feeding problems (the baby was in the NICU, low milk supply, etc.), according to research done by lactation consultant and PhD candidate Fiona Jardine, based on data from over 2,000 exclusive pumpers. Only a small percentage of all exclusive pumpers are doing so simply because they want to.

One way to support exclusive pumpers is to acknowledge some of their most common feelings, both positive and negative:

- Glad to be able to still feed human milk
- Grief/sadness/failure/guilt/sadness/feeling cheated (that they couldn’t direct nurse)
- Controlled by/tied to the pump
- Time efficient and organized
- Pride and determination
- Envious

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month. It’s important to support all breastfeeding mothers, regardless of the method they choose.

The lactation team at White Plains Hospital offers support for all types of breastfeeding moms, including exclusive pumpers. For information about our weekly breastfeeding support group for new moms, staffed by Board of Certified Lactation Consultants, call (914) 681-2214. You can sign up for a breastfeeding class by calling (914) 681-1234.

Tags: breastfeeding, breastfeeding awareness month, certified lactation consultant, exclusive pumping, nursing
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