Breastmilk: Every little bit helps

Why would moms need professional help with something so totally natural? In a way, the pros take the place of the support women used to get from their own mothers and aunts, according to Candace Sibly- Macken, manager of Good Samaritan's lactation center. "Baby boomers' mothers more than likely didn't breastfeed," she said. "And ours is a transient society. The support, particularly from extended families, isn't as available."

Given all the benefits of breastmilk to the human baby, which even extend to later in life, consultants like Sibly-Macken take the approach that every little bit helps. The quality of the milk doesn't change even if the quantity changes, she said. She would rather have a mother use a combination of breast and bottle than have her abandon breastfeeding altogether.

"We know many moms are career women. We tell mothers, 'What you give your baby is unique.' But we also don't want them to feel totally negative about using bottles," Sibly-Macken said. "She's the one that's going to provide the milk. The most important thing is the bond between mother and baby. If breastfeeding becomes a divide between them, we're very supportive of a plan that best meets the needs of a mother and a baby."

Even if a woman chooses to breastfeed her baby for a year, sound nutrition principles come into play, she said. "These babies do not get only breastmilk. At around five months, or when the baby shows interest, we introduce cereals and other foods. We try to get away from the misconception that these babies are breastfed every three hours," Sibly-Macken said.

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