Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Breastfeeding is Affected by Birth

To close out Breastfeeding week, and also to address an issue that I just discussed with my trainer in my Childbirth Educator Certification Training, I found an excerpt from "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by LLLI that is the tip of the iceberg on this issue. I hope that it will begin some conversation and thought about the fact that birth *absolutely does* affect breastfeeding. I saw it with my own two kiddos...the difference in their births and the way they nursed (among many other things) were both very different.

Anyway, here is the excerpt, and I will plan to get some more information posted on this issue...

We learned early in La Leche League's existence that a woman's experience in giving birth affects the beginning of breastfeeding and many of her attitudes about being a mother. Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.

Childbirth can be a rich, joyful, and maturing experience. Those of us who have given birth without drugs or medical intervention know that helping a baby to be born and hearing his first cry can be a crowning moment of achievement in the life of a woman. After doing a survey of women's long-term memories of their birth experiences, childbirth educator Penny Simkin reports that the women who felt the most satisfaction about their childbirth experiences "described feelings of accomplishment, control, increased self-esteem, and/or confirmation of worth. Most of those with low satisfaction expressed disappointment or anger that they were not in control." And she concludes, "a sense of maternal fulfillment and personal self-worth are hallmarks of a healthy outcome" of the birth experience.

Having a baby is a natural, normal function for which a woman's body is superbly designed. The healthiest birth situation for both mother and baby is one that is completely drug-free. Almost all mothers are physically able to deliver their babies without medical intervention. You do need a doctor or trained midwife attending the birth of your baby but this is similar to having a lifeguard on duty in case there are complications. In the natural, normal birth, it is not the doctor who delivers the baby; it is the mother.

Recent studies have shown that pain relievers and anesthesia used during labor or delivery may contribute to breastfeeding problems. In one study, babies whose mothers had received an epidural were less alert, less able to orient themselves, and had less organized movements than babies whose mothers had given birth without medication. Furthermore, these differences in behavior were measurable during the entire first month. Other medications commonly used during labor have also been found to affect baby's sucking behavior after birth.

Being prepared for childbirth is of the utmost importance when planning to breastfeed your baby!