Making a "decision" to breastfeed is really very new. Since long before recorded history, breastfeeding was a woman's only choice. If a mother was unable to nurse her child, family or friends who were lactating would nurse the baby for her. Wet nurses, lactating women who were paid to nurse and care for another's child, were employed by the wealthy in some cases. The wet nurse often nursed her young charges in addition to her own children.
This year, over three million women in the United States will breastfeed their newborns. That's approximately 71 percent of all new mothers. The practice of breastfeeding instead of feeding an infant formula from a bottle is slowly gaining ground, and it's a trend that health care professionals enthusiastically welcome because they know that “breast is best.” Your breastfeeding relationship with your child will have far-reaching rewards for both you and your baby, as well as your entire family.
Nursing your child is a relaxing and enjoyable experience that just might be one of the most satisfying relationships you've ever had. There's nothing else that compares with the emotional closeness of breastfeeding. When your baby looks up at you adoringly and smiles, you'll know you've made the right choice.
Breastfed children have fewer infections, fewer digestive problems, and better brain development than formula-fed babies, and that's just the beginning. Breastfeeding also helps your body recover from labor and birth, and decreases your risk of breast cancer. There are even financial and environmental advantages. Simply put, breastfeeding your child is a responsible, loving, and natural choice.
Although breastfeeding is natural, learning this new skill doesn't come naturally to everyone. Some women are lucky enough to experience only a few problems, but many need a little help at first. In the past, women grew up surrounded by breastfeeding friends and family members, and so girls had the opportunity to learn the “womanly art” from their female role models. By the time these girls grew up and had children, they had seen and perhaps assisted with breastfeeding on many occasions. If they had a problem, they could consult with their mothers, female friends, or a midwife.
But things changed in the twentieth century. Bottle feeding of infant formulas became much more common than breastfeeding. Women were persuaded by both advertisers and the medical community that infant formula was at least as good as breastmilk, and certainly more convenient. Today, we know that nothing comes close to breastmilk. Unfortunately, decades of bottle feeding have left most women without the social support and knowledge necessary for breastfeeding success. Now we have to rely on a more formal method of breastfeeding education.
This book will provide you with techniques, tips, and insights that will enhance your breastfeeding experience. The information provided is based on current research and recommended best practices in the field of breastfeeding education.
You can breastfeed. There is no better nourishment for your baby than your own milk. Your milk is specially designed for your child at all stages of development. With a little preparation, practice, confidence, and patience, you'll be well on your way toward breastfeeding success.