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We stand to learn a lot from our ancestors. In their day, breastfeeding was the way to feed a baby. Unfortunately, things changed somewhere along the way. Canned milk and then formula were introduced and replaced the ultimate in infant nutrition - mother's milk. The ironic thing about this is that a lot of our unhealthy choices today are because of the advent of modern conveniences such as processed foods and transportation. Formula preparation is definitely not a convenience compared with that of breast milk. Unfortunately without the knowledge of all the benefits of breast milk, like always, it was thought that something new such as formula was the better choice. With all the information available today, we know "breast is best."

We stand to learn a lot from our ancestors. In their day, breastfeeding was the way to feed a baby. Unfortunately, things changed somewhere along the way. Canned milk and then formula were introduced and replaced the ultimate in infant nutrition - mother's milk.

The ironic thing about this is that a lot of our unhealthy choices today are because of the advent of modern conveniences such as processed foods and transportation. Formula preparation is definitely not a convenience compared with that of breast milk. Unfortunately without the knowledge of all the benefits of breast milk, like always, it was thought that something new such as formula was the better choice. With all the information available today, we know "breast is best."

There are so many benefits of breast milk. I will name just a few. It is the complete and perfect food for a baby. It protects them from infections and illnesses such as SIDS, Asthma, Diabetes, Crohn's Disease and breast cancer. Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and be obese. It is environmentally friendly and convenient. There are also benefits for the mom. It helps with weight loss, it's truly the most satisfying experience (just ask any mother who's done it) and saves money (good for the whole family). The World Health Organization advises breastfeeding exclusively until the baby is six-eight months old, then solids can be introduced with continuing to breastfeed up until two years or older.

So why is it our breast feeding statistics are still not as good as they should be? We all have a role to play in this and we stand to benefit. How's that, you ask? Healthier babies, healthier adults, healthier communities, it stands to reason! Support for breastfeeding moms, they need that. Breastfeeding should be the norm; it should be the acceptable thing to do. After all, it is the best for the baby. So if you have a family member who is breastfeeding or is planning to, encourage and support them. That would be the best thing to do. Breast is best!

For moms who are planning to breast feed, some advice to you to help promote a successful experience. Find out about the benefits of breastfeeding and educate those around you. Attend prenatal classes or talk to your Public Health Nurse about it. There's lots of literature available. Know what the signs of a good latch is, know what to do if you become engorged, learn about growth spurts, and on and on. Talk to other women who have had successful breastfeeding experiences. If they are still breastfeeding, visit and watch the beautiful experience take place.

Once you have the baby, utilize all resources available to you. Accept help from family and friends. The first six-eight weeks might be a trying time, be prepared, and rest when the baby is sleeping.

Remember you are doing the best you can do for your baby. Once established, you will be so happy you continued.

Your Public Health Nurse and Health Care Provider are available to support you. There are two Lactation Consultants employed by Central Health who can become involved when needed. One will visit you in the hospital. The more prepared you are the more likely you are to have a successful breastfeeding experience.

For more information, and if you are interested in attending prenatal classes, contact your local Public Health Nurse.

Joanne Lodge and Flo Boyd are Public Health Nurses working out of the Notre Dame Day Memorial Health Centre in Twillingate and the Medical Clinic at New World Island. Nurse Lodge can be reached at 884-5426 and Nurse Boyd at 629-7134.

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