Feeding a growing infant can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood. For new moms who choose to breastfeed, the process can be painful and exhausting. For mothers who are unable to breastfeed or choose not to, the pressure and guilt of using formula can be heartbreaking. This tension has sparked an ongoing debate surrounding breastfeeding and what is the best way to care for young children.
Ultimately, the way a mother feeds her child is up to her. August is celebrated across our city, state and country as National Breastfeeding Month, initially announced by the United States Breastfeeding Committee in 2011 — a time to address myths and unnecessary controversy and encourage healthy choices for mothers and children throughout the year. Doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic are always available to discuss any questions you have about healthy nutrition for children of any age.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits associated with breastfeeding, as reported by the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The antibodies found in breast milk help build immunity, working to fight viruses and bacteria that may make your child sick. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of developing asthma, leukemia, obesity and stomach bugs, among other conditions, at a young age. Breast milk changes composition as babies age — adapting to meet the needs of your child.
Additionally, breastfeeding may benefit the mother, helping her to heal after giving birth. In some cases, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer has been reduced after breastfeeding.
A chart comparing nutrition, costs, advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding with breastfeeding has been shared by the American Pregnancy Association. It is very important to research as much as possible when deciding how to feed your child.
Is choosing not to breastfeed is OK?
There are cases when formula feeding a child is necessary. In rare instances, a baby may have a metabolic disorder making human milk indigestible. These infants may be required to consume hypoallergenic, dairy-free or lactose-free food to prevent a reaction. There also may be a time when a mother is sick or unable to provide her own breast milk to her child.
Additionally, a mother may choose not to breastfeed for many reasons — family tradition, personal discomfort, or if the baby isn’t attaching. Whatever the reason, remember it is a personal decision. Doctors and nurses can only provide information to help make sure a mother makes the perfect decision for her child.
Where is it legal to breastfeed?
To eliminate any unnecessary controversy about whether or not it is appropriate to breastfeed in public, Oregon law, ORS 109.001 states, “A woman may breastfeed her child in a public place.”
There are no exceptions to this law. While many places, including offices spaces, local businesses, restaurants and even PDX International Airport, offer private nursing spaces, a woman is free to feed her child in public spaces.
The United States Breastfeeding Committee has proclaimed this year’s National Breastfeeding Month theme as “Every Step of the Way,” where “we envision a world in which every family is supported at every step along the infant feeding journey.” You can follow the conversation on Twitter with #NBM21.
If you any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call The Portland Clinic at 503-223-3113 or visit ThePortlandClinic.com. Please note, medical advice can only be delivered to current patients.