Breast-Feeding: Nature's Formula for Success
The Decision continued...
Breast-feeding definitely wasn't the easy choice for Powers. Alexa stopped
breast-feeding as soon as they left the hospital, and it took a month of
frustration and sleepless nights before Powers realized that Alexa had poor
sucking skills. After another month working with Best-Macia, however, Alexa
finally got the hang of things.
There have been some personal trade-offs, too. For instance, hanging on to
those last 10 pounds has bothered Powers, who is a personal trainer,
"probably more than the average woman," she concedes. "But I'm
still choosing to do it -- it's that important. I have to put my feelings about
my body aside and do this for my daughter."
Many couples also may worry that if dads can't give a baby a bottle, they'll
feel left out of the bonding process. But there are other ways they can enjoy
some one-on-one time with their babies, such as being the one who regularly
bathes the baby, Best-Macia says.
"I think we really underestimate the role of the father if we think that
all he can do is imitate the role of the mother by feeding the baby," she
says. "Bathing, especially if babies are in the bathtub with the father,
can be a very fun and happy time. ... It's similar to a breast-feeding
counterpart because fathers have skin-to-skin contact with their
Technique Is Everything
Despite the benefits of breast-feeding, only a relative few mothers stick
with it for the time recommended by experts. About 60% of women start
breast-feeding in the hospital, but the number drops to 20% by the time the
baby is 6 months old.
One of the biggest reasons women abandon nursing is the gamut of
difficulties they may experience getting started, such as inadequate milk
supply or sore nipples. But many of these difficulties, often the result of
improper positioning and latching technique, could be avoided if women had the
support and instruction they need to get off to the right start.
"I think mothers should be patient with themselves. They're learning a
new skill," says Best-Macia. "A baby that's positioned and latched well
right from the beginning will avoid a lot of the difficulties you hear
about," she says.