The decision of whether to breastfeed your child or to use formula is a very personal one. Before your child is born, you may have a plan to breastfeed or not. When your child is born, that plan may totally change—and that’s OK, too! Here are some things to think about as you decide what is best for you and your baby.
Reasons to breastfeed:
- Breastfeeding is an inexpensive way to give a baby rich nutrients while also serving as an opportunity for bonding between mother and child.
- Breastmilk has fewer out-of-pocket expenses. The only cost that comes from breast milk are the pumps and bottles, if they are necessary for you due to work or school.
- Breastmilk is made exactly for your child and gives him or her a healthy start in the growing process. The first milk that your baby gets from you after birth is full of nutrients and antibodies that protect him or her from infections.
- Breastfeeding helps the mother heal after childbirth and is said to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and certain types of breast cancer, including ovarian cancer.
- Within the first hour after birth, if possible, allow the baby to latch, and breastfeeding will be easier for both mother and child.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding newborns for at least six months.
Women’sHealth.gov is one of many resources for you to learn about the benefits of breastfeeding for you, your baby, and society. Information that you can obtain from Women’s Health includes:
- Why breastfeeding is important.
- Learning to breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding challenges.
- Pumping and storing breastmilk.
- Breastfeeding and everyday life.
What is a lactation consultant?
Like many “natural” elements of childbirth, breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily for many mothers OR babies! Don’t be discouraged! With a little practice and some help, you and your baby can learn how to make this work for you. Many women experience difficulties in the first weeks of nursing and as they navigate how to work pumping into a school and work routine. La Leche League is dedicated to helping mothers breastfeed and has many resources you may find helpful. Lactation consultants are professional experts who can help you with all of these issues, including painful nursing, low milk flow, and any issues your child may have. Rest assured these issues are very normal and there are solutions! Nurses,obstetricians, and pediatricians usually know experienced lactation consultants and can help you find the support you need. The International Lactation Consultant Association also has an online directory that may be useful. Be sure to check with your insurance company to understand any costs.
What about pumping?
No matter what your personal situation will be, there will be times when you will need to want to be away from your nursing baby. Breast pumps are wonderful tools that allow your child to have the benefits of breastfeeding while you are able to do what you need to do for work or school.
- Breast pumps can be expensive to purchase, but many times, a woman’s insurance will offer a breast pump as a benefit or at a reduced cost. Contact your insurance company to see if this is available to you. Additionally you may be eligible to receive grants for free or low-cost pump rental from a hospital, lactation center, or pharmacy. Contact your state health department or WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) office. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that only FDA-cleared, hospital-grade pumps, sterilized between uses, should be used by more than one person.)
Know your rights:
- If you have chosen to breastfeed, it is important for you to voice your decision clearly to the hospital staff so they do not give the newborn formula or a pacifier, without your permission.
- Oftentimes, mothers don’t feel supported by family or work when faced with the choice to breastfeed. Don’t give up!
- If you feel that you are being discriminated against at work or school while trying to breastfeed, you have rights.
- Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (PL111-148) Section 4207, employers are required to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk until the child is 1 year old. Employers are also required to provide a room other than a bathroom that is shielded from the public and other employees that is private for the mother.
- Twenty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. (The states are: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.)
- This site provides you with a summary and links to each states breastfeeding rights for both the public and workplace.
Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. (The states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.