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Six Misconceptions About ‘Extended’ Breastfeeding

In our culture extended breastfeeding is misunderstood in many ways.  I’ve been collecting these misconceptions about it in my head and thought I’d take this opportunity to address them here.

So, here six common misconceptions about extended breastfeeding:


Read Motherwear Breastfeeding blog

5 Breastfeeding Myths You Probably Believe Are True

There are so many barriers and roadblocks to successful breastfeeding that make it so hard for so many women who want and do try. Medical professionals often get in the way of breastfeeding — sometimes even lactation consultants can give bad advice.

No wonder our country’s breastfeeding rates are so low, eh?

The number one weapon we have against bad information and advice is to SQUASH IT LIKE A BUG! By perpetuating myths, we only continue to make things harder for women in the future. That’s why it’s so important to really listen when someone tries to explain to you where someone misled you if you’re discussing reasons why breastfeeding didn’t work out for you — even if it’s too late for you, any time you discuss your baby’s feedings, you can help quell the myths that were your downfall so maybe where you failed, someone else can succeed!

So, here we go — reasons people didn’t breastfeed and why they’re not true. Some of these I’m surprised anyone could even say with a straight face.

Read the myths-The Stir

Post in comments your own myths and why they are not true.

Recognizing Postpartum Depression in New Mothers

By Lorie Johnson
CBN News Medical Reporter
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More than 4 million babies are born in the United States each year. Doctors say the number one problem with new mothers following the birth of their child is postpartum depression. Unfortunately, many women try to keep this condition a secret and doing so could have devastating consequences.

Expect a Bumpy Emotional Ride After Giving Birth

Dr. Theresa Whibley has been delivering babies for decades and says she tries to warn new mothers to expect a bumpy ride after giving birth.

“I think many women are not prepared for some of the emotional effects of having a baby,” she said. “It’s obviously a very happy time usually for most families, but you forget that there are great hormonal changes. There are great changes in family dynamics, certainly there are huge changes in sleep and it’s really amazing to me that women do as well as they do in the post partum phase.”

The truth is, it’s normal to feel sad or scared after giving birth. It’s called the baby blues, and 80 percent of women get them. But if these feelings last longer than two weeks, it’s likely postpartum depression and should be treated professionally, for the sake of the mother and the baby.

Your Baby Is Also Affected for Years

“Children of depressed moms lag behind other children,” said Dr. Christine Truman, a psychiatrist who specializes in postpartum depression.

Dr. Truman says if mothers don’t get help for postpartum depression, it can cause problems for their children such as delayed language development, difficulty bonding with people, behavioral problems like increased crying, anger and difficulty regulating their emotions.

Dr. Truman explains these impairments could last for years.

“The interesting thing is that the degree of impairment in the children seems to be related to the duration of the mom’s depression,” she said. “So the longer a mother is depressed the more likely and the more serious the impairment would be in the child.”

Postpartum Depression and Psychosis Symptoms

About one in five mothers suffers from postpartum depression. Symptoms include sadness, guilt or fear, withdrawing from people, sleeping too much or too little, having trouble with their memory, concentration or making decision.

Although postpartum depression is a very serious condition, there is something worse known as postpartum psychosis. This is a very rare type of disorder that affects about one in a thousand mothers. It is said to have been what Andrea Yates was suffering from when she drowned her five children in Texas in 2001.

Dr. Truman says women and their families should take immediate action is symptoms of postpartum psychosis appear.

“A mother experiences extreme agitation, extreme mood swings confusion about what’s real, disorientation, disorganized thoughts or speak and often hallucinations and delusions. It’s really an emergency situation,” Truman said.

Family, Friends Must Be Vigilant of New Mother

Many new mothers don’t realize they have postpartum problems, so it’s often up to the people around them to recognize the warning signs and urge them to get help. Treatment usually involves talk therapy and anti-depressants that are safe for breastfeeding.

Amanda is doing both.

“Last month has been the happiest month I’ve had in quite a long time, just because I feel like I’m getting normal again,” she said.

Removing The Stigma

Dr. Truman is interested is removing the stigma attached to postpartum depression so more people come forward to get the treatment they need.

“Postpartum depression — it’s a biological illness. It’s a medical illness. It’s not caused by a weak personality. It’s not caused by a failure on the mother to do what she’s supposed to do. It’s a biological illness, so it’s not something a mom has any control over,” she said.

To illustrate that point, examine the change in hormones a woman experiences before, during and after pregnancy. The levels of progesterone and estrogen continue to rise steadily throughout the 40 weeks of gestation until reaching very high levels. Then within 24 hours of giving birth those levels go crashing down to pre-pregnancy levels.

Although hormones contribute to postpartum depression, so does the environment. For instance, women who live on military bases are at higher risk, because they’re separated from their extended family and often their husband. In fact, women in western cultures like the U.S. have higher rates of postpartum depression, because they are more likely to raise their children virtually alone, compared with other cultures where women share all the responsibilities of child birth and raising children with family and community. Therefore, a good support system is invaluable, and women can go a long way toward preventing postpartum depression by making connections to people in church, in their families or in their neighborhood. Building relationships and asking for help is good for mom and baby.

Reaching Out to Expectant or New Mothers

Likewise, people who reach out to expectant or new mothers can provide a meaningful service to them. Deanna Otto brings food to new moms who don’t have family nearby. She often does housework or watches the baby while mom gets the sleep she craves. Otto also spends time talking to new mothers and pays attention to how they are doing emotionally. This type of service is something she recommends to all Christians.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” she said. “I feel better as a person helping out somebody else. They really appreciate it — just those hours — it gives them a little reprieve so that they can feel like they can do it all themselves again.”

So while motherhood is a blessing, it’s not always easy. Paying attention to how a new mother is feeling can avoid heartache for her and her baby.

New mothers are often disappointed and even ashamed when the joy they expected to feel after having a baby turns into sadness or fear or both.

One woman whom we will call Amanda described her experience.

“I felt scared, panicked, doomsday, like trapped, just overwhelmed, a feeling of kind of helplessness, you know, like everything is on you,” she explained.


Breastfeeding Helps Babies Sleep at Night

New research from the University of Extremadura in Badajoz, Spain, has shown that the composition of breast milk changes over the course of the day to help babies sleep at night. Naturally occurring chemicals called nucleotides, which have previously been linked to sleepiness, were found to be at their highest levels at night-time.

Researchers tested the breast milk of 30 mothers who had been breast-feeding for at least three months. Samples of milk were collected
before each feed over a 24-hour period, with between six and eight samples collected per mother.

The scientists also noted that this may have an impact on when mothers express their breast milk and feed it to their baby, as milk expressed
in the morning may not help a baby to sleep as well as milk expressed in the evening.

Read more about this research at New Scientist


Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) and Feeding your Baby: What Parents Should Know


This document updates previously posted information for parents about infant feeding and novel H1N1 flu (swine flu).  It now more clearly addresses parents who are formula feeding as well as breastfeeding, suggests that parents sick with novel H1N1 flu (swine flu) find someone who is not sick to feed the baby, and provides more detailed strategies for breastfeeding mothers to maintain breastfeeding throughout the course of infection. This document is based on current knowledge of the novel H1N1 flu outbreak in the United States, and may be revised as more information becomes available.

What is this new flu virus?

Photo of mother and babyThis novel H1N1 flu virus (sometimes called “swine flu”) was first detected in people in April 2009 in the United States. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.

What can I do to protect my baby?

Take everyday precautions such as washing your hands with plain soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub before feeding your baby.  More tips on good health habits for preventing sickness from the flu virus can be found at this website:  http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm.  In addition, try not to cough or sneeze in the baby’s face while feeding your baby, or any other time you and your baby are close. If possible, only family members who are not sick should care for infants.  If you are sick and there is no one else to care for your baby, wear a facemask, if available and tolerable, and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.  For more information, see the Interim Recommendations for Facemask and Respirator Use.

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Is it ok to for me to feed my baby if I am sick?

Infants are thought to be at higher risk for severe illness from novel influenza A (H1N1) infection and very little is known about prevention of novel H1N1 flu infection in infants. If you are breastfeeding or giving your baby infant formula, a cautious approach would be to protect your baby from exposure to the flu virus in the following ways:

  • Ask for help from someone who is not sick to feed and care for your baby, if possible.
  • If there is no one else who can take care of your baby while you are sick, try to wear a face mask at all times when you are feeding or caring for your baby.  You should also be very careful about washing your hands and taking everyday precautions to prevent your baby from getting flu (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm).  Using a cloth blanket between you and your baby during feedings might also help.
  • If you are breastfeeding, someone who is not sick can give your baby your expressed milk.  Ideally babies less than about 6 months of age should get their feedings from breast milk.  It is OK to take medicines to treat the flu while you are breastfeeding.

Does breastfeeding protect babies from this new flu virus?

There are many ways that breastfeeding and breast milk protect babies’ health.  Flu can be very serious in young babies.  Babies who are not breastfed get sick from infections like the flu more often and more severely than babies who are breastfed.

Since this is a new virus, we don’t know yet about specific protection against it. Mothers pass on protective antibodies to their baby during breastfeeding.  Antibodies are a type of protein made by the immune system in the body.  Antibodies help fight off infection.

If you are sick with flu and are breastfeeding, someone who is not sick can give your baby your expressed milk.

Should I stop breastfeeding my baby if I think I have come in contact with the flu?

No.  Because mothers make antibodies to fight diseases they come in contact with, their milk is custom-made to fight the diseases their babies are exposed to as well.  This is really important in young babies when their immune system is still developing.  It is OK to take medicines to prevent the flu while you are breastfeeding.  You should make sure you wash your hands often and take everyday precautions (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm).  However, if you develop symptoms of the flu such as fever, cough, or sore throat, you should ask someone who is not sick to care for your baby.  If you become sick, someone who is not sick can give your baby your expressed milk.

Is it okay to take medicine to treat or prevent novel H1N1 flu while breastfeeding?

Yes.  Mothers who are breastfeeding and taking medicine to treat flu because they are sick should express their breast milk for bottle feedings, which can be given to your baby by someone who is not sick.  Mothers who are breastfeeding and are taking medicines to prevent the flu because they have been exposed to the virus should continue to feed their baby at the breast as long as they do not have symptoms of the flu such as fever, cough, or sore throat.

If my baby is sick, is it okay to breastfeed?

Photo baby with temperatureYes. One of the best things you can do for your sick baby is keep breastfeeding.

  • Do not stop breastfeeding if your baby is sick. Give your baby many chances to breastfeed throughout the illness.  Babies who are sick need more fluids than when they are well.  The fluid babies get from breast milk is better than anything else, even better than water, juice, or Pedialyte® because it also helps protect your baby’s immune system.
  • If your baby is too sick to breastfeed, he or she can drink your milk from a cup, bottle, syringe, or eye-dropper.