Breastfeeding mothers need support

Few moments were as bittersweet as when I breastfed my third (and last) baby for the last time.

The truth is that this beautiful bond between mother and child can also be one of the most demanding aspects of motherhood.

In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week, I spoke with Margaret Salopek, Clinical Nurse Educator for Covenant Health’s Baby Friendly Initiative

Krysta Smith: In recent years, social media has become a platform to promote breastfeeding; I see hashtags such as #normalizebreastfeeding. Are you finding that more women are choosing to breastfeed their babies in the hospital?

Margaret Salopek: Yes, initiation rates are in the [90th percentile]. This has slowly been [an upward] trend since the late 1990s. Initiation is good, but what I’d like to see go hand in hand with that is that people keep on breastfeeding.

Krysta Smith: What are some of the most common reasons women choose to not breastfeed or to give up breastfeeding?

Margaret Salopek: I think it’s often lack of support and education. When you don’t have that support it’s a really tough road. There are a lot of moms whose moms didn’t breastfeed because science and research once showed formula was best.

Now we know better. There are so many components of breast milk that you can’t manufacture into a formula.

Krysta Smith: What are some of the most important steps new mothers can take to set themselves up for breastfeeding?

Margaret Salopek: Get the baby on the breast immediately after delivery. That is when the baby’s senses are most heightened. That first feed and that first sense of mom is attuned in their brain; subsequent feedings become much easier. It sets up mom too—once you know your baby is fed, you feel more confident and relaxed.

Find yourself a breastfeeding buddy. It’s really important because you need support. If you find someone who has breastfeeding experience it’s nice to have [your experience] validated, to know that it’s normal and to know that it’s going to change again.

Krysta Smith: For myself, I always set goals for breastfeeding my babies, like at least six months, nine months, a year. Do you think that’s a good approach?

Margaret Salopek: It’s a good idea to have a goal, but the most important thing to realize is that sometimes you have to realign or readjust your goal according to your circumstances or your baby.

Instead of length of time, just focus on the fact that you’re breastfeeding your baby. Period. And take it one day at a time.

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