The first week of October is World Breastfeeding Week in Canada. All across the country people will be celebrating all that breastfeeding offers to babies, mothers, families, communities, and our planet.
What Mother Nature has always known — that breast is best — we now know from the enormous amount of research that is being conducted world wide. As we learn more about breast milk and breastfeeding we continue to be astounded by this amazing food that nature has designed for our babies.
When our babies are born we want to provide them with the best nutrition we can. Breast milk is the perfect food for babies, providing every nutrient they need for the first six months of life. Breast milk also provides living immunities to babies thereby preventing a wide range of illnesses and health problems.
Most moms want to provide their babies with the very best nutrition but sometimes breastfeeding can be challenging. Although it is natural it is not instinctive. Both mothers and babies need to learn to breastfeed.
Up until the middle of the 20th century everyone breastfed, and girls learned all about it long before they became mothers. If they had breastfeeding challenges there were always lots of women who knew what to do. With the aggressive marketing of formula starting in the 40s, we became, very quickly, a bottle feeding culture, and the breastfeeding wisdom of timeless generations was lost. Mothers learn to breast feed in relative isolation and depending on where they live, when they have problems there may be few resources to turn to.
The reality is that mothers need support when they are breastfeeding. Sometimes they just need some solid information and good technical know how to help them solve their difficulties. Most moms, whether they are having specific problems or not, just need a good dose of encouragement, appreciation, love and acknowledgement (plus a few meals in the freezer).
The research is very clear that the biggest determining factor in moms’ breastfeeding experience is the whole hearted support of their partners, their families, and their friends. You can be a breast feeding mom’s biggest booster by providing encouragement, praise, love and acknowledgement for all she is doing for her baby. If she is having problems, encourage her to get help, support her in any success she has, whether she is feeding full time at the breast, pumping, or needing to supplement.
We are all committed to providing the very best nutrition we can for babies. If we “nourish” breastfeeding moms, they will in turn nourish their babies.
So think of yourself as an advocate for healthy, well nourished babies. Smile at moms when you see them nursing their babies and give a hug to every breastfeeding mom you know! And if you are a breastfeeding mom, give yourself a big hug, and a nice, relaxing, hot bath!
Happy Breastfeeding Week!