Breastfeeding: 7 Things You Might Not Know
By Jenny Sigler for SparkPeople
Breastfeeding is the perfect food for a growing baby, full of nutrients, antibodies, and a perfect balance of fat and calories. Nursing can also be a rewarding and healthy experience for mom too.
Preparing to breastfeed takes time, research and support. Although breastfeeding is a natural and healthy process, it doesn't come naturally (or easily) to everyone. Here are seven other facts that you may not have heard about breastfeeding, including its benefits, complications, and protective laws!
Fact #1: Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
Recent studies showed that pre-menopausal women who breastfed their children were 50 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to women who did not nurse their children. This research also supported a strong correlation between a woman's duration of breastfeeding and her risk reduction rate--especially for women who nursed longer than one year. Additional research has shown a correlation between women who were breastfed as infants and a lower risk of breast cancer later in life.
Fact #2: Your breast size has nothing to do with the amount of milk you can produce.
The size of your breasts is determined by the amount of fatty tissue they contain. There is no evidence to suggest that women with small breasts (or nipples for that matter) have more problems with low milk production. Milk is produced in the mammary glands that are present in all women's breasts. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of breast sizes, rest assured that their girth (or lack thereof) will have no impact on your ability to produce enough milk for your baby.
Fact #3: Nursing mothers are protected by U.S. Laws.
The Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, signed into effect by President Clinton in 1999, included language that protects a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere on federal property. Other examples of federal laws that protect a nursing mother's rights are:
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendment, which protects nursing women from being fired or discriminated against for expressing breast milk during their breaks.
- The Breastfeeding Promotion Employers' Tax Incentive Act, which provides tax breaks to companies who create nursing stations at the workplace.
- The Safe and Effective Breast Pumps Act, which developed federal-regulated standards for breast pumps.
Several states provide immediate jury duty exemptions for lactating mothers, and in almost every state, a woman's right to nurse in public is legal and exempt from indecency prosecution. State laws vary, so be sure to research your own. Know your rights and if you are comfortable nursing in public, exercise that right!
Fact #4: Breastfeeding can be difficult, even with the best intentions.
You may have preconceived notions that nursing will be an easy and natural transition for you and your baby. For some, breastfeeding comes easily and without complication. But for other women, it becomes a real struggle. Babies born to mothers who received pain relief (especially through the use of narcotics) often experience delayed success in nursing because they are sedated. Other contributing factors that can disrupt a nursing relationship are: a traumatic birth, pain from a C-section, early separation of infant and mother after delivery, improper latching, thrush, male circumcision, early introduction of bottles, and the use of pacifiers. If you are having difficulties breastfeeding, contact your local La Leche League or a lactation consultant. The ability to breastfeed your baby is well worth the fight!
More from BabyFit.com:
- What I Wish I Had Known about Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding: Evaluating Your Milk Supply
- Nutrition and Breastfeeding