Breast is Best… as long as it’s best!

We have all heard about the ‘Breast Is Best’ campaign, and I agree with it. The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous. Breast milk is the perfect nutrition for your child; even the best formulas are only imitations of breast milk. There are also proven health benefits from both mother and baby; and obvious cost savings. Additionally, breast-feeding is one of the most joyful and special bonding experiences you can have with your baby.

I always recommend the families I work with to try to exclusively breast-feed during the first six months of life of the baby.  I recommend using breast milk over formula, even in special cases when babies can’t breastfeed (i.e. premature babies). The mother can pump breast milk and offer it to the baby fresh and even keep a frozen milk supply for later on.

I, in fact, ‘breast-feed’ my twins until they were almost 8 months old (6 months adjusted age); however, those feedings weren’t at my breast. After being born at 29 weeks, they had to spend over two months in the hospital. Despite many trials, many consults with lactation consultants, they were never able to properly feed at the breast. At some point, they could latch on and suck, but they were so weak that they got exhausted and didn’t get enough milk. In addition, they both had severe gastrointestinal reflux (GERD), and would spit up often.

We were so concerned about their weight and development that I made the decision to avoid them the struggle of trying to breastfeed and burn all their energy trying, and continue pumping milk and offer it to them in a bottle. Was it easy for me? No, it wasn’t. I had always wanted to breastfeed, and letting that go, was not easy for me. Furthermore, pumping every 3 hours, day and night, to maintain my milk supply to feed both babies wasn’t easy or fun; but I am so glad I did it. My daughters weight gain during their first year of life was fantastic, they were healthy and strong, and I am glad I was able to do that for them.

Having said this, I understand that breastfeeding is not the right solution for everyone. Society has somehow stigmatized those who choose not to breastfeed. Do you remember the public health campaign comparing not breastfeeding with riding a mechanical bull while pregnant? It feels like women who choose not to breastfeed are egotistical, ignorant or abusive. I think these types of messages are plain wrong and damaging, adding onto the self-imposed guilt and inadequacy most first time moms already feel.

There’s not doubt in my mind that breast milk is better than formula, no doubt! But there’s also no doubt my mind about the fact that breastfeeding is not for everyone. There are some medical conditions, such as HIV, AIDS, active untreated tuberculosis, maternal varicella virus contracted two to four days prior to delivery or within six days of delivery, neonatal galactosemia, and human T-cell leukemia virus, might make breastfeeding an undesirable option. Additionally, there are certain medications that nursing women might not take, and if they must, lactation might not take place. Always check with your health care provider before breastfeeding, if you have any of these medical conditions, or if you are taking any medication.

Some women have jobs that are incompatible with nursing or pumping; and many of those can’t afford or do not want to take longer maternity leaves (if any) or quit their jobs and stay home with their child. Finally, “Breastfeeding is not always easy” I hear this every week from the women at the support groups for new moms I attend every week. Many of them struggle with breastfeeding at first; they suffer from engorgement, sore and bleeding, plugged breast ducks, or mastitis; and their babies have trouble latching on, or sucking and keep losing weight. All these challenges add on to the current stress and anxieties moms already feel. The moms who successfully breastfeed, encourage those having trouble to try yet another lactation consultant, another nipple cream, another breast shield, another feeding routine, another nursing pillow, another nursing position… and to keep at it until they are successful. I agree, as long as the ‘keeping at it’ doesn’t interfere with their happiness and the way they parent their children.

I believe that happy babies come from happy moms, and I’ve seen so many moms absolutely miserable because breastfeeding was a struggle. I don’t think that’s good for the mom or the baby. If breastfeeding becomes a terribly painful experience or filled with anguish and resentment (towards your body, yourself, or your child), then I would argue that bottle-feeding, is the best option.

A lot has been said about the unique bond you develop with your child while breastfeeding. But that’s only true when breastfeeding goes according to plan. If breastfeeding becomes a struggle, week after week after week, the mother will resent herself and her baby and that will undoubtedly affect their bond. Additionally, I do believe that fathers can have a bond as special as the one mothers have with their babies, even though they do not breastfeed; as so can adoptive parents; and mothers who can’t or choose not to breastfeed.

To sum up, I do believe that breast milk is a much better option than formula, I do believe that breastfeeding when going well, helps create a unique bond between mother and child. Having said that, I do believe breastfeeding is not for everyone, and I do believe that mothers who can’t or choose not to breastfeed can be just as good mothers or better than some who chose to breastfeed.

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Diana G. Blanco, B.B.A., M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; a Baby and Toddler Sleep Expert; and founder of Smooth Parenting. Smooth Parenting is a baby & toddler sleep training consultancy and parenting coaching firm, that helps families around the world get a good night sleep and a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Diana has an impressive track record of helping families teach their babies to sleep. Her approach to sleep training and parenting is gentle, progressive, effective, holds the wellbeing of the child first, and follows the guidelines provided by the American Association of Pediatrics.

For more baby sleep and parenting tips, sign up for Smooth Parenting’s FREE newsletter at http://www.SmoothParenting.com; and follow them on Facebook athttp://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting


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Parenting: The Importance of Bonding with Your Baby

We spend nine months (some less than that) physically connected to our mothers via the umbilical cord. Without this connection we wouldn’t even be here. When we are born and that connection disappears, a new, more meaningful one emerges. It is an emotional and psychological connection.

How important is that connection, that bonding?

‘Essential’. The bond that babies have with their mothers and fathers impacts and reflects in their whole life. This idea is so vast that most of us can’t wrap our minds around the fact that the way we connect with our children during those first years has a tremendous impact in their happiness, character, health, self-esteem, academic performance, relationships and growth.

Healthy bonding helps the parts of your baby’s brain responsible for interaction, communication and relationships to grow and develop. Babies who have a deep and loving bond with their mothers have a much better foundation in life than those who don’t. It has been found that the lack of bonding in infants can have a life-lasting effect on a child. Infants who don’t bond are more likely to become anxious and insecure. Bonding creates trust, love, self-confidence and a sense of belonging.

Children with positive and strong bonding with their parents tend to:

  • be more independent (not less),
  • have higher self-esteem,
  • develop better relationships,
  • be more emotionally balanced,
  • enjoy being with others,
  • rebound from disappointment, loss and failure, and
  • communicate more effectively

Contrary to popular belief, the more responsive you are to a baby’s needs, the less ‘spoiled’ he will be growing up. Being responsive does not mean picking up your baby every time he fusses; holding him all day long; or becoming someone you are not or doing things you don’t want to do. It just means understanding your baby’s needs, your baby’s cues and respond to those.

You can develop a healthy, positive bond with your baby even if you decide to go back to work, to hire a nanny, to take some ‘me time’, not to breastfeed, not to co-sleep, not to carry your baby… There are no set rules!

Here are some ideas on how you can develop a positive, loving and healthy bond with your child:

  • Love your baby, unconditionally. Accept your child completely and without restrictions, conditions or stipulations. Make sure that there is no spoken (or unspoken) message making your child feel or think that he has to be something other than what he is in order to be loved. Without unconditional love there can’t be healthy and positive bonding.
  • Know your baby. Each baby is different and the more you know your baby, the better you are going to meet his needs and the easier that bond will be established. Keep a journal and make notes on how your baby communicates with you, and how he responds when you communicate with him. You will soon know how to respond to your baby’s needs.
  • Touch your baby. This can mean kangaroo care when he’s a newborn; daily massages after bath time; cuddling while reading a book; or hugging him. The goal would be for your baby to grow, knowing that your arms are a safe place to fall back on and that they will always be there for him, to support him, but not constrict him.
  • Be present. Whatever you do, make sure you are present in the moment with your child, take time to connect with him, sense his love and let him feel your love.  You don’t need to do anything extravagant to show your baby you love him and you care. Get on the ground and play with him, make silly faces, dance, have fun with him, talk and listen to him… Let go the idea of being ridiculous, embarrassed, or perfect and just enjoy every second you spend with your child.

Every moment you spend with your baby can help create a strong, positive and healthy bond that will last a lifetime.

__________________________

Diana Gonzalez Blanco, B.B.A., M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; a Baby and Toddler Sleep Expert; and founder of Smooth Parenting. Smooth Parenting is a baby & toddler sleep training consultancy and parenting coaching firm, that helps families around the world get a good night sleep and a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Diana has an impressive track record of helping families teach their babies to sleep. Her approach to sleep training and parenting is gentle, progressive, effective, holds the wellbeing of the child first, and follows the guidelines provided by the American Association of Pediatrics.

For more baby sleep and parenting tips, sign up for Smooth Parenting’s FREE newsletter at http://www.SmoothParenting.com; and follow them on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/SmoothParenting

Reading to your Kids

I found what this father (and his daughter) did was fantastic! They read and read together, every day, for the past 8+ years! Inspiring story!

Dad Reads to Daughter 3,218 Nights in a Row

When his daughter was in the fourth grade, Jim Brozina offered her a challenge: He wanted to see if the two of them could read together every night for 100 nights in a row. She accepted. When they reached their goal, she said to him quietly, “I think we should try for 1,000 nights.” And that’s how The Streak was born. According to the New York Times, the Brozinas read a total of 3,218 nights in a row, right up until Kristen’s first day of college.

It’s an amazing feat, especially considering that they both had busy social lives, but the Brozinas say it was more than a personal challenge: It was part of the glue that held them together. The Brozinas had been through a difficult year that included losing both grandparents, sending Kristen’s sister off to college and Kristen’s mother leaving her father.

“It was just the two of us,” Kristen told the New York Times. “The Streak was stability when everything else was unstable. It was something I knew would always be there.”

Reading a book together requires coziness and intimacy — and it’s the perfect way to unplug from your busy life and take some time to bond with your child. Here are some tips for getting the most out of reading with your child:

• Find a comfortable spot in the house and make it your own. When one of my kids asks me to read, she heads right for the softest couch in the house, ready to cuddle in. But don’t be afraid to read on the go. We keep books in the car for long waits, and I’ve even been known to share a book over breakfast.

• Make reading together part of your daily routine. Even when kids are old enough to read on their own, parents can read books that are above a child’s reading level to broaden their vocabulary and imagination. I often read chapter books at bedtime, just for this purpose.

• Choose books that are interesting. Those early-reader books are great for reading practice, but it’s the story books that really grab kids’ attention. The more engaged children are at reading time, the more they’ll look forward to it every day.

• Read books that you once loved. My kids are finally ready to hear books like “Beezus and Ramona,” and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just nothing like passing on a great story to the next generation. On the flip side, be sure to let your kids choose, too. The books that they feel connected to might surprise you.

• Have fun with it. Make up funny voices, be dramatic, add your commentary and, whenever possible, end the session on a cliffhanger.

Source: http://www.momlogic.com/2010/03/dad_reads_to_his_daughter_3218_nights_in_a_row_the_streak.php#ixzz0j43tkphU