In the debate over breast milk, a new study finds intent to breastfeed may mean healthier babies.
Nothing about Jessica Bates’ birth experience went as planned.
Her pregnancy wasn’t an easy one. After she delivered her first child, Henry, in March of this year via an emergency cesarean, he spent days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) due to a suspected infection.
As Bates, based in Washington D.C., recovered from the emergency surgery, she hadn’t produced any milk yet, so the nurses in the NICU fed Henry with formula.
Throughout her pregnancy, Bates had assumed she’d breastfeed her newborn.
However, breastfeeding proved to be a struggle, especially because Bates experienced PTSD from the emergency birth and struggled with postpartum depression.
“I was sort of in a fog… for maybe the first two months of motherhood,” Bates said. “I really struggled with pumping and breastfeeding and couldn’t latch. I wasn’t really getting him any food and I was so tired. And C-section recovery was so hard.”
For years, new parents have been told “breast is best.” But in some cases, new mothers or parents who want to do what’s best for their child face roadblocks — biologically, mentally, or physically.
And now there’s new research that simply the intent to breastfeed may be linked to better outcomes for babies.
New research published in the journal Population Health has found that a mother’s intent to breastfeed — even if she doesn’t end up actually breastfeeding — could be an important factor in her infant’s health.