Canada is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week from October 1st to 7th. This year's theme highlights the importance of providing support to breastfeeding moms and their families. Our guest blogger, Melanie Foster shares her experience learning to breastfeed her daughter and how a support system helped.
Melanie is a policy analyst with the BC Ministry of Health, who works in early childhood population and public health. Her primary project for her Master's in Public Administration focused on breastfeeding policy.
Here’s Melanie's story.
When my daughter arrived, the midwife gave her to my partner and guided him to place her on my bare chest, skin-to-skin. She cried with all her might and looked into my eyes. I stroked her face and at that moment, started to think about breastfeeding.
My daughter led the way during that first feed. She bobbed her head and when she latched on that signified the beginning of motherhood for me.
It took my baby and me a couple of weeks to really get the hang of breastfeeding and to overcome some challenges. With support and time, it became easy and convenient. Some of the things that worked well for me included:
- Advice from a health care provider - My midwife guided me through some breastfeeding challenges. This included engorgement and a not-so-fun breast infection. (If you don’t have a midwife, support is also available through a public health nurse.)
- Support from family and friends - In the early weeks, family and friends helped with household chores and making healthy meals so I could rest and focus on breastfeeding.
- Connection with other new moms - I joined a mom and baby group. Women breastfed their babies and chatted about how they were coping with their new responsibilities. Connecting with other moms can encourage you to keep breastfeeding.
Getting through the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be challenging, but it’s worth it. You will have a ready-to-go food supply that is all the nourishment your baby needs for the first six months of life… and it's free! I'm so thankful for the strong bond that breastfeeding has helped me build with my little girl.
Remember! Having support from other breastfeeding moms can help you sustain breastfeeding. But why continue to breastfeed?
Here are some facts that you should know:
- Breast milk changes every day to meet the needs of your baby. It provides all the nutrition your baby needs for the first six months.
- Breastfeeding helps build a bond between you and your baby. Babies gaze at and connect with you during breastfeeding.
- Breast milk provides antibodies that help protect your baby from childhood illnesses.
- Breastfeeding is a powerful mothering tool. It soothes fussy babies and calms frustrated toddlers.
- All the experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond.