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Notes from the Passion Professor: Things You May Not Know About Breast Feeding

Patricia Mooneyham

We have all heard multiple benefits to lactation and breastfeeding for both mother and child. The primary function of the breast is for milk production for the purpose of consumption.

The benefits of just the milk that is produced are so well known that there is even a market for the milk for non-infants with some athletes saying it has performance boosting benefits.  The thing that some people may not know is that anyone who has their breast intact is a candidate for lactation (even men).  Now this is not to say that there is not work and time to be invested and in some cases individuals may look for assistance in the form of hormones and/or medication.  One of the keys to preparing for this time if you are an adoptive mother or are using a surrogate is using a breast pump on a regular basis for what is called “pumping.”  Keeping in mind this step is about creating the chemical reactions in the body that a baby does when it is nursing and may be started 3 -4 months before the baby is born if possible. There are hormone supplements which will assist in the process; as well as medications to both facilitate starting the milk production as well as increasing.

It is important to keep expectations about the amount of milk someone will produce reasonable.  Stress and negative emotions actually can interfere with milk flow. The goal does not have to be that breast milk will be the only food source, but instead the mother and child will receive the benefits of bonding. The child will receive the emotional and nutritional benefits even if supplementation is required.  It is important to communicate your desire to nurse especially in an adoption/surrogate situation.  You want as much skin to skin contact between mother and baby as possible early on. A breast pump does not replace the stimulation of a nursing infant; just as a mother in the process of helping a baby “latch-on” will not provide the flow of an artificial nipple.  It is important to not get frustrated with the process.  If you are adopting or using a surrogate, you may want to consider looking for a lactation coach. If you are not sure where to start check with your doctor for recommendations.

Breast feeding is one of the most natural forms of bonding between a mother and child.  Yet, many women are embarrassed or even worse in some cases shamed for public feeding of their children. In a society where we sexualize women’s breast numerous women have reported being harassed for breast feeding in public. Many women even feel forced to cover their child’s head making feeding uncomfortable for the child.  Many companies and retailors have responded to this by creating lactation rooms for mothers to provide a clean private place where they can breast feed without fear of harassment or observation from strangers. This is not to say that if there is no such place available that you should feel uncomfortable with your choice. If you are considering breast feeding and returning to work be sure to check with your human resources department as many states have laws regarding accommodating mothers who may need to “pump” during their workday.  If they don’t already have a designated space, most companies are happy to create one even in states where it is not required.

Patricia Mooneyham coaches and educates women on personal confidence, sexual wellness and
empowerment. You can find other helpful information at her website


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