Pregnancy is a daunting prospect for any woman, but this life-changing experience is particularly frightening for teen moms. Bringing a new person into the world is a big responsibility, and you're likely to have lots of questions about every aspect of pregnancy, including breastfeeding. When it comes to breastfeeding, it's important that you make the right choice for your lifestyle and circumstances, but you also need plenty of information to help you decide. Click here for info about or get the answers to some of the most common questions that you (and other teen moms) are asking about breastfeeding by reading more.
Does everyone breastfeed their baby?
In 2013, 76.5 percent of women breastfed their baby at birth, but this number decreased as the infant grew older. By the time the baby was 6 months old, 49 percent of women breastfed the infant, but only 16.4 percent did so exclusively. As such, you can see that a woman's experiences with breastfeeding will vary, and not all moms choose to breastfeed their babies.
Why choose to breastfeed?
Experts at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development say that both babies and mothers benefit from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding offers nutritionally balanced food for the baby, protects against illnesses and infections, and cuts the risk of certain diseases (such as type 1 diabetes). Moms who breastfeed get emotional benefits from the experience because they bond more closely with their baby. Research shows that breastfeeding also cuts the risk of some cancers, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
In some cases, doctors recommend against breastfeeding. If you have certain diseases, or you are using specific medications, breastfeeding could harm your baby. You should always consult your doctor for more advice.
Will breastfeeding harm my breasts?
It's normal to worry about the effect that breastfeeding will have on your breasts, but teen moms are more likely to consider this because they often feel under pressure to look a certain way. In fact, breastfeeding does not have an adverse effect on your breasts' appearance.
When your baby is growing inside you, your breasts will normally grow larger and heavier. This occurs because your breasts undergo a process called canalization, where more milk ducts develop in preparation for breastfeeding. Most of this change occurs during pregnancy, so it doesn't actually make any difference if you then decide to breastfeed. As such, you should remember that it's pregnancy that changes your breast shape, and not breastfeeding.
Can my body produce enough milk for breastfeeding?
Adolescent moms' bodies can certainly produce enough milk for breastfeeding. According to La Leche League, teenage moms produce the same quantity and quality of breast milk as older women. That aside, younger moms will normally need more calories, vitamins and proteins during pregnancy, as this will allow their bodies to lactate properly after the baby is born.
When your baby is born, your body will initially produce colostrum, which appears as small gold droplets of milk. You may worry that there isn't enough for the baby, but this is perfectly normal. As the baby nurses, your body will start to produce more milk.
Isn't breastfeeding painful?
Fewer than eighteen percent of adolescent moms say that they plan to breastfeed. A 2012 study found that many teen moms stopped breastfeeding because they found the experience painful and unpleasant, and they also lacked the right health care response to the problems they faced.
Breastfeeding can lead to some pain and discomfort, particularly when the baby first latches on. The discomfort will normally ease after a minute or so. Some moms also suffer from sore or cracked nipples, and persistent pain could point to another problem.
When you're breastfeeding for the first time, it's important to learn the right technique. Most new moms struggle with breastfeeding to start with, so you shouldn't worry about asking for help. You can ask for advice from your family or friends, or you can talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a lactation consultant, who can work with you and your baby to help you breastfeed comfortably.
Breastfeeding has health benefits for you and your new baby, but it's vital that you get the facts you need to deal with the experience. Don't allow myths and misconceptions to put you off, and take advice from experts with relevant medical experience.