Breastfeeding and Breast Health
 
Do I plan to breastfeed?  Absolutely.  I can't fathom giving my newborn anything but the breast.  It is a very special bonding experience between a mother and child...one that can never be duplicated.  It is every woman's choice to breastfeed or not...however if you are considering your options I urge you to try it.  Give it at least two weeks. 
 
I have never heard anyone say that breast feeding is not the best thing for your baby.  In fact all the junk mail I get from formula companies clearly state 'Breast milk is best.'  Honestly...that's what breasts are there for.  In the first few days after your delivery/c-section you will produce a clearish-yellowish substance called colostrum.  This is loaded with natural anti-bodies and protects your baby from all the nasty diseases you are protected from.  There is no guessing what is in colostrum either.  It has the perfect balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and calories for your baby's needs.  It only lasts for about three days.  Then your milk comes in.
 
When my milk first came in with my son I had woke up with humungous breasts.  I turned to my mother and said "Mom! I look like a porn star!"  She laughed and said my milk had come in.  I was amazed.  So was my son. 
 
As babies grow their needs change.  They need more milk and so they will nurse very frequently for a few days to build up your milk supply.  This is when most women quit.  "I guess I don't make enough milk" or "He/She must not be getting all the nutrients he/she needs" are commonly said as the reason for quitting during this time.  That is an uneducated statement or a cop out.  Your baby will be fine with your breast...let him/her guide you.  Most people call this nurse on demand.  If you really get worried call the LaLeche league representative in your area (US...I am not sure if they are over seas.  I will post a link in the links section.  If they are not over seas I will find out who is).  They are there 24-7 to assist you with any question and will not make you feel stupid for calling at 2 am - I did.  You will have to remind them that you are vegan if they recommend products for you, but I will get to that.  They also hold breast feeding classes and meetings for free.
 
Got pesky relatives or friends that will not leave you alone?  Try this..."I am so sorry but the baby needs to feed and my milk will only drop in private.  Thanks for coming by though."  Works like a charm every time.
 
Little known breastfeeding facts...
    Breastfeeding right after delivery helps contract the uterus and expel the placenta (your third stage of labor).
    Breastfeeding produces Oxytocin, the same hormone that contracts the uterus, which is associated with bonding, falling in love, and attachment.
    Even women that adopt can breastfeed with no help from a doctor.  If you pump your breasts long enough (the time varies from woman to woman) you will produce milk.
    Breastfeeding mothers and supporters have some of the largest communities on the Internet.
    Breastfed babies develop faster than formula fed babies...brains included.
 
Common problems with breastfeeding
 
Dry cracked nipples.  Ouch!  I think this happens to every new breastfeeding mom.  Don't fear...the solution is easy.  The LaLeche league recommends lanolin.  That is unacceptable for vegans.  Lanolin is made from sheep wool and oils in the skin.  Why should any animal suffer for humans comfort?  Something that works just as well is pure olive oil (do not get silly and buy the flavor infused).  Rub it on your sore cracked nipples and allow yourself some bra free time. Never use soap on your breasts either.  The soap from your upper parts will run down your breasts when you shower and that is plenty.  Allow to air dry after your shower.  If you are a bath person only put natural bath products in your tub if you must use anything other than water.  No spearmint or anything with honey (but if you are vegan you wouldn't have any products containing honey anyway).  Try dried flowers (I love lavender).  No commercial bubble baths or soaks (besides they are bad for animals and bad for the environment). 
    If running around top less for a while is not practical for you there are nipple shields.  These are plastic domes that fit in your bra over your nipples and provide air flow and ventilation at all times.  These are available at most maternity stores and on E-bay.
 
Leaking breasts.  Pretty common.  Most women can control when their milk comes out.  I was not one of these women.  I swear the wind would blow and I would turn into a fountain.  What to do?  Buy breast pads.  They have disposable ones that are sold at pharmacies and grocery stores.  Problem with these is you are contributing to landfills and some companies that make them are notorious for testing on animals.  I suggest getting washable hemp breast pads.  Hemp is known for its durability, anti bacterial properties, and gentleness on the earth (after all the earth is our mother).  I bought mine on E-bay for cheap.  You can also make your own.  I did with my first pregnancy.  You can even line the back of the with plastic if you need to.
 
Mastitis the big OUCH...but easily dealt with.  I am speaking from experience.  I had the worst case my doctor had ever witnessed.  What causes this?  Stress, fatigue, under-wire bras, an abrupt change in feeding (like quitting).  It starts with a red patch on your breast.  Then you get the worst flu symptoms you have ever had - minus the vomiting.  Your breast can turn black and blue.  What to do?  Go get evaluated by your doctor.  My doctor was skilled in eastern and western medicine practices but we decided to try a course of antibiotics and bed rest.  You also must nurse from the affected side during this time.  Your milk provides the antibodies that will protect your baby from infection.  Draining the breast is crucial.  You will survive this.  My mastitis was caused from stress and fatigue.  My father, whom I was very close with, was diagnosed with Small Cell (oat cell) cancer.  He was given two weeks to live by the second most cancer expert in the US.  I was devastated.  If I can nurse through mastitis and all the stress (I appointed myself my Dad's caregiver) then you can do it.
 
Working and nursing. After my father passed away Jake was still nursing (he did live longer than expected) I decided to go back to work in a tattoo studio (one of my passions...giving ink).  I bought a breast pump and had no problems there.  I didn't last long because I couldn't stand being away from my little guy.  Your work is required to give you ample time to express or pump milk...several times a day.  My pump is very nice, it came with a built in cooler for proper storage.  If buying a breast pump is not an option for you hospitals and clinics rent them for free/cheap.  It is easy to do and you are still providing the best food for your baby.
 
Inverted nipples.  Buy special breast shields for this.  They will extract your nipple so your baby can latch on.
 
OK I think this covers it.  I hope you find this useful and helpful.  I would like to thank Tom Petty for providing the music to comfort me while I sit here working thru contractions.  Not that he will ever read this, but if he does...many thanks:)