Breastfeeding 101

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Ok ladies, it's time to tackle the big one...breastfeeding. While I have done extensive research on breastfeeding gear, I am by no means the leading expert. So I asked my friend Tanya, Editor of The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog to lend a hand. This blog is teeming with advice and articles for breastfeeding moms. I caught up with Tanya to learn more:

How did the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog get started?

Motherwear International, Inc., the sponsor of the blog, wanted to provide more information and support for breastfeeding moms through their website. I'm a lactation consultant based in the area where Motherwear is located, and was lucky enough to be chosen to write and manage the blog for them. From its founding more than 25 years ago, Motherwear has done many things to support breastfeeding moms, from creating how-to guides, to publishing a magazine of breastfeeding moms' stories, to supporting organizations that promote breastfeeding. So it was a natural evolution to start a blog on breastfeeding.

Who are your readers?

My readers are breastfeeding moms, pregnant women, breastfeeding support people like La Leche League leaders and lactation consultants, activists, and some dads, too! They're all over the country and all over the world, which makes it even more fun. The first year I wrote the blog I did a post about nursing in public around the world, which was fascinating and fun. I also love it when readers write guest posts for my blog.

What inspires you to write?

That's an easy one! Breastfeeding is such an inspiration in itself. I'm captivated by our bodies' ability to provide immune protection, nutritious food, and comfort in one (free!) package. As a lactation consultant who works with nursing moms, mothers are also a constant source of inspiration. I've met so many mothers who struggle against everything from pain to bad advice, to unsupportive family or employers to make breastfeeding work. Sometimes I think mothers surprise even themselves at how hard they'll fight to make it work.

What's the best thing about breastfeeding?

For me, it's the incredible system in a mother's body that knows how to create food that will protect her baby from disease. Did you know that if I have a cold and expose you and your baby to the virus I have, you will inhale the virus through your nose, into your lungs, and your lungs will send a message through your lymphatic system to your breasts, which will make milk with antibodies that fight against the specific virus that I exposed you to? Or that a component of breastmilk, called human alpha lactalbumin, will kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone? These and other facts always amaze me, and I wish that we all had the respect I do for the power of breastfeeding!

What is a common misconception about breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, there are many. I think that a common one for first time moms is the notion that, because breastfeeding natural, it'll be easy. The first part of that is right - it's natural - but the second part isn't always true, and I wish that we did a better job of preparing expecting moms, and providing support once the baby arrives. I remember one thing my doula told me about breastfeeding, and I repeat it to every expecting mom as often as I can: get help early. If I were expecting my son again, I'd seek out all the resources for help in my community and post them on my refrigerator. Mothers often ask me how women used to do it before breastfeeding clinics and lactation consultants, and I tell them that breastfeeding has always required the support of other mothers. We lost much of that mom-to-mom support when our culture moved away from breastfeeding, and now you may have to make an effort to seek it out. But it's worth it!

My advice? Read Tanya's blog and fire away with questions and comments!

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