Breastfeeding your baby is supposed to be one of the most natural acts in the world. You give birth, your new baby gets hungry, and you instinctively feed him with the food your body provides.
Except, of course, for the fact that for a lot of women, breastfeeding is rarely this easy.
Why Can Breastfeeding Be Difficult?
Women find breastfeeding to be difficult for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a difficult birth experience can cause trouble initiating breastfeeding. In other situations, a lack of help and support can keep women from breastfeeding successfully. And all too often, it is the lack of accurate and information and reliable resources that prevents mothers from achieving their breastfeeding goals.
Misinformation about breastfeeding is everywhere. It comes from well-meaning family and friends. In some cases, it can come from obstetricians and pediatricians.
And it can also come in subtle ways from formula companies.
Similac Is Not A Breastfeeding Resource
For example, Similac — a formula company — has a Feeding Hotline that offers breastfeeding support. They've also recently introduced a Similac iPhone app, which allows new moms to track baby's eating, sleeping, and diapers, and even predict the next feeding time. The app is supposedly designed for use by either breastfeeding or formula-feeding moms, but the information it provides is not exactly breastfeeding-friendly.
I'm not sure why a formula company offers breastfeeding support, but according to Best For Babes, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping women reach their personal breastfeeding goals:
"No formula company truly wants to see you breastfeed. It's in their best interests for you to fail and start buying their products. Period."
I'm not bashing formula here, or passing any kind of judgment about parents who use it by either choice or necessity. What I am saying, though, is that it seems a little far-fetched to think that women who want to breastfeed should turn to a formula company for advice. Neither Similac nor any other formula company should be considered a reliable resource when it comes to providing mothers with breastfeeding support and information.
Fortunately, there are lots of really great alternatives available to women who are looking for answers to their breastfeeding questions.
Got Breastfeeding Questions? THESE Are the Resources You Need
1. La Leche League International
La Leche League International has been providing mother-to-mother breastfeeding support through telephone help, monthly meetings, and the publication of the most up-to-date breastfeeding research and information since 1956. You can access information from La Leche League by visiting their website, by picking up a copy of their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (be sure to get the newly-revised eighth edition), or by contacting your local La Leche League Leader.
La Leche League Leaders are experienced breastfeeding mothers who have completed a rigorous accreditation process and can provide free breastfeeding information and support by phone, email, and in person. Click here to find La Leche League in your area.
2. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants
Lactation consultants and counselors are not all created equal. They have varying levels of knowledge and experience, and some may be less knowledgeable than you might expect. For example, the lactation consultants who answer questions for the Similac hotline have some degree of breastfeeding training, but they are NOT International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (otherwise known as IBCLCs).
The IBCLC credential is considered the gold standard for lactation consultants, as it indicates extensive training and clinical experience in the area of human lactation. If you are experiencing serious breastfeeding difficulties, you may need to make an appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
3. Breastfeeding Made Simple
Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws For Nursing Mothers is an excellent breastfeeding resource, and my personal favorite for new and expectant mothers. In the book, co-authors Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett carefully explain the fundamentals of how breastfeeding works, and share what every woman needs to know in the early days after birth.
Breastfeeding Made Simple is easy to read, and incredibly helpful for any mother who is feeling overwhelmed and just wants to learn the breastfeeding basics. The authors explain the simple facts in a straightforward and non-judgmental way, providing every mother with the information she needs in order to make informed decisions for herself and her baby.
4. Dr. Sears
While he may be best known for coining the term "attachment parenting," pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears (along with his wife Martha), speaks and writes extensively on a variety of parenting topics, including breastfeeding.
The Sears are co-authors of The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need To Know About Nursing Your Child From Birth Through Weaning, a comprehensive resource with information on just about every aspect of breastfeeding. Accurate breastfeeding information can also be found on their popular website, Ask Dr. Sears, and in many of the other parenting books that they have written, including The Baby Book and The Attachment Parenting Book.
KellyMom is one of the most popular breastfeeding resources on the web. The website, which is run by an IBCLC, is devoted to providing information on a large variety of breastfeeding-related topics. You'll find articles about breastfeeding basics like positioning and latch, but also about various other breastfeeding-related issues that mothers may face as baby gets older.
You can also find KellyMom on Facebook, where links to current breastfeeding-related stories and research are shared daily, and there is a large community of support from other breastfeeding moms.
6. Dr. Jack Newman
Dr. Jack Newman is a Canadian physician with extensive breastfeeding expertise. He is the co-author of The Ultimate Book of Breastfeeding Answers, and has created several handouts and videos to help breastfeeding mothers.
If you're looking for short, easy-to-follow articles about common breastfeeding issues like plugged ducts, jaundice, or slow weight gain, Dr. Newman is a great resource. He has also created several videos depicting proper latch techniques, which can be a lot more helpful to new moms than wordy book descriptions that are difficult to visualize. Access Dr. Newman's articles and videos by visiting Breastfeeding Online.
Forget the Formula Company
Not every woman will choose to breastfeed. Mothers use formula for a variety of reasons, and those reasons are not yours or mine to judge. But when women want to breastfeed, they deserve to receive the best support and information that will help them do so.
A formula company CANNOT provide that.
Fortunately, the resources listed above just might.
Note: These are just a few of the many great breastfeeding resources that are available to breastfeeding moms. If you have a favorite that wasn't listed, please share.