Archive for July, 2010

Breastfeeding and Down syndrome…A Beautiful Combination

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Who ever thought breastfeeding a child with Down syndrome would be any different.  I didn’t.  Until I saw the look on the nurse’s face after my daughter was born.  She asked me if I had a preference on which kind of formula they gave her in the nursery.  After telling her I was going to nurse my daughter, she handed her to me and said “OK, give it a try, but keep in mind most babies with Down syndrome can’t latch on very well.”  Over the next few days I kept hearing that same comment and couldn’t understand why people weren’t more encouraging.

After doing research on breastfeeding a baby with Down syndrome since she was born, I can see why the nurses reacted this way.  For some babies it can be very difficult, due to low muscle tone.  But it is still possible.  A good support system is the key to any breastfeeding adventure.  Having the right resources in place before hand would be excellent, but if that’s not possible you can call a lactation consultant, preferably one with knowledge of special needs, while you’re in the hospital with your baby.  Other things such as nursing pillows and a hand express pump will help.  Stimulating your milk supply yourself or with a pump right before nursing will save your baby some work and utilize that energy to nurse longer.

Children with Down syndrome also have a tendency to have a lower immune system and respiratory issues.  Sticking with it is beneficial for baby to get all the extra immunities that breast milk has to offer.   I’m so thankful I could offer my daughter that extra boost.  And the bonding time we had together was great.  Turns out, she was easier to breastfeed than my typical child.  Down syndrome or not, breastfeeding each child is a different experience.  Don’t let the myths or negative comments sway your decision, I’m here to tell you it can be done and become a beautiful experience for both of you.

by Jodi Osmin, guest contributor

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