Chapter 1 Choosing to Breastfeed "Nursing my daughter was a decision I made even before she was conceived. I was not breastfed as a child but had seen with other parents the bond that breastfeeding brings to the motherchild relationship. I also understood the nutritional and immunologic benefits that mother's milk provides the infant and wanted the very best for my child." --Stacy, 31, mother of Adam With three weeks remaining until her baby's due date, Vicki could hardly wait for the day to arrive. She and her husband had completed their natural-childbirth course and toured the hospital where their baby would be born. They had baby clothes ready and had even bought their first supply of diapers. Yet as Vicki focused on tying up loose ends at work prior to her maternity leave, she couldn't help feeling nervous about some aspects of new motherhood. Will I be able to breastfeed? she wondered. My cousin tried, but she quit after a week. And what about when I start working again? she asked herself as she packed a box of papers to take home. The baby will have to use a bottle then. Should I start him on formula so he doesn't have to switch later on? Suddenly weary, Vicki sat down and rested a hand on her stomach. Feeling a slow, rolling movement beneath her hand, she looked down with a wan smile. "I want the best for you," she said to her baby. "I just wish I had someone to teach me about this. What's really important for your health, and how can I make sure you get it?" Does Breastfeeding Make Sense for Me? If you, too, are about to give birth, you may share Vicki's concerns or have other urgent questions about how, when, and even whether you should breastfeed your child. The act of nursing--one of nature's most rewarding and beneficial processes--can sometimes seem intimidating when you face a host of other commitments and hear a great deal of conflicting advice. In the following chapters, you will find clear answers to many of these questions, solutions to your problems, and information about the array of breastfeeding support services--hospital nurses, pediatricians, obstetricians, family physicians, lactation specialists, and breastfeeding support groups--that are in place to help mothers breastfeed their children successfully. Such efforts have been made because an enormous amount of research demonstrates how beneficial breastfeeding is for babies. We now know that nursing your child not only strengthens the quality of your relationship with her but improves her health, enhances her brain development, and provides her with precisely the type of nourishment she needs at each critical stage of her development. The benefits of human breastmilk so greatly exceed that of any alternative method of infant feeding, in fact, that health organizations around the globe have united to promote this natural source of nutritional and emotional sustenance for babies. The World Health Organization (WHO), for example, encourages women to breastfeed exclusively for six months and to continue to breastfeed for at least two years to take advantage of human milk's ability to provide the best nutrition and protect against infection. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding (no water, formula, other liquids, or solids) for about the first six months of life, followed by breastfeeding with the introduction of solid foods for the next six months, and continued breastfeeding thereafter as long as mutually desired by mother and baby. As you prepare for motherhood, you will want answers to all of your questions about breastfeeding. You will want to consider how it is possible to combine breastfeeding with work outside the home, how you can fully involve your partner* in parenting a breaMeek, Joan Younger is the author of 'American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding ', published 2005 under ISBN 9780553588705 and ISBN 0553588702.