RD, CD, CBS
Colleen loves to help empower parents and build their confidence through providing support and evidenced based information. This is important to her because she has a heartfelt appreciation for support she has received, as a parent and as a breastfeeding mom. Colleen is a mom to two boys, ages 5 years old and 1 years old.
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. But there’s a ton of reasons to support your wife through the process. Here’s why the benefits to your baby are so worth the effort.
The first 1000 days of your baby’s life, from the first day of pregnancy up to 2 years of life, represent a critical period of growth and development and gives parents an opportunity to provide an environment that will help support life-long health. This includes the nutrition a baby receives during this period which can have a resounding impact. The most complete form of nutrition for infants, breast milk, offers a range of benefits for health, growth, immunity, and development. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months (and even up to two years and beyond) because of the long-lasting benefits of breastfeeding for both your wife and your baby. Many studies — whether focusing on the properties of the milk itself or its effects on babies’ short and long-term health, confirm the significance of these recommendations.
Breast not only is the “best” for baby, but it’s also the norm — it’s how babies have been fed since the beginning. One of the most important decisions parents can make during these first 1000 days of your baby’s life is to choose to breastfeed your baby.
It’s a unique nutritional source that is easy to digest and provides the perfect balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and nutrients to promote the growth and development of your baby. Breastmilk contains hundreds of invaluable substances in human milk — probably more that have yet to be identified — including:
Breastfeeding not only provides your baby with tailored nutrition, but it’s available on demand, day or night, and it’s free of charge. The health benefits go well beyond convenience and cost, however, and will have a far-reaching impact on both your partner and your baby long after the breastfeeding journey has ended.
And if this wasn’t enough, breastfeeding also exposes your baby to the varying tastes and flavor profiles of the foods your partner eats, which can influence food acceptance and preferences when she herself begins to eat food, and throughout her lifetime as well.
If you are expecting, it’s never too early to learn about breastfeeding to help you and your partner make informed decisions about how you’d like to feed your baby.
Before giving birth, familiarize yourself with breastfeeding, latching and what to expect in the first few weeks of nursing. You’ll both be swept up in lots of excitement when your baby is born, so having some initial familiarity with these concepts will help with the transition.
Familiarize yourself with your hospital or birth center’s onsite breastfeeding support as well as support you can access once you’re back home. Support can include lactation counselors or consultants and breastfeeding hotlines. If you are delivering in a hospital, find out if the hospital supports The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).
Breastfeeding is a new skill for both you and your baby, whether it’s your first or your fourth. While you’ll learn and find your way together, you still may need or simply want additional support, or a home visit. It’s best to locate these helpful individuals in advance! Chat live with a Happy Mama Mentor (our team of registered dietitians and lactation specialists) if you need additional help the Happy Mama Mentors can help you locate a local lactation counselor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
At approximately 6 months, you can begin to introduce solid foods as a complementary feeding method while continuing to breastfeed as the benefits continue well through the first and second years.
Keep in mind the hierarchy of infant feeding choices for a full term baby according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:(1) breastfeeding; (2) mother’s own milk expressed and given to her child in some other way; (3) milk from Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) or state licensed milk bank (4) cow-based milk formula; and (5) soy-based formula.