The 10 Commandments of Breastfeeding

(with apologies to Scripture)

I am the milk of your breasts, you shall have no other form of infant nutrition in your house. Free formula samples are very tempting, especially when that 2 week growth spurt hits. But they have a price tag - for every bottle of formula your child drinks, your milk supply will dwindle. When the case of formula arrives, ship it off to the nearest food pantry. Don't let it remain in your house.

You will have no artificial versions of my shape, not in latex orsilicone, not attached to a plastic disc or a bottle. No pacifiers, no bottles of water, and no bottles of formula. If baby wants to suck, offer your breast. S/he is quite possibly going through a growth spurt and is trying to increase your supply.

You will contact La Leche League in your third trimester and attend meetings, especially if you have never seen other women nurse their children. Watch other women who are nursing their children with great interest, and ask questions, even if they sound silly and dumb. Most moms today were not lucky to see their mothers nurse - if you haven't seen women actually breastfeed, make sure you go to a LLL meeting. Nursing is an art, and you can't always pick it up by just reading a book.

You will surround yourself with professionals who are knowledgeable about human lactation, from the moment you give birth. If you are giving birth in a hospital, see what their policies about artificial nipples/pacifiers are before you go. There are still nurses out there who think nipple confusion is a myth. The best cure for this is rooming-in. Or not going to the hospital at all. :-) Also, make sure your child's doctor is well-informed about breastfeeding.

You shall not give up. Not in two days, not in two weeks, not in two months. If your nipples are sore, find some help before they start bleeding and cracking. If you don't think the baby is getting enough, count wet and soiled diapers. If your baby is nursing and nursing and nursing with no end in sight, find something good on the television and let that baby nurse! Feeding a baby formula is NOT easier!

You shall not listen to those who say you cannot breastfeed, or that you are breastfeeding too long, or too often, or too much. Ignore your well-meaning but ignorant mother-in-law who tells you that the baby would be sleeping through the night by now if s/he was on formula. Don't pay attention to your mother who says that if you breastfeed no one else will be able to feed the baby, so you should feed formula. And ignore ANYTHING from Gary Ezzo!

You shall not wean your children for the sake of convenience. Research has shown that children are biologically meant to be weaned somewhere between the ages of 3 1/2 and 7.

You shall not allow others to pass on misinformation about breastfeeding, human lactation, the needs of babies, and extended nursing. This includes doctors, books at the bookstore, your relatives, people on the Internet, and anyone else who doesn't have the facts straight.

You shall not remain silent. Support nursing mothers whenever and wherever you see them, even if it is only with a kind word and a knowing smile. If you see an expecting mother, strike up a casual conversation. Make sure she knows the facts, or at least that there's a LLL group in your area. If you're nursing your child in public and someone comments, use that as an opportunity to educate that person. Other children are fascinated by nursing babies - and are at the best age to make a lasting positive impression. If you can't help with this generation, you can help with the next.

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