Helping teen moms breastfeed
I have a teenager at home and I'm constantly having to remind myself that it's perfectly normal and natural for them to be mature and responsible one minute, then flaky and immature the next. What if you're a teen mom? What does that mean? Teen moms have many challenges despite what you think after seeing magazine covers and promotions for MTV's 16 and Pregnant. It's not an easy road and the risk of not completing education, under-employment and perpetual poverty is high. It also means that a person who is trying to grow up themselves and figure things out, now has the added responsibility of caring for a newborn 24/7.
Many of my patients who are college educated and in stable relationships with their baby's father feel overwhelmed. Imagine being a teen mom who probably can't count on the baby's father, may have a strained relationship with her own parents and is sleep deprived and overwhelmed. One of the issues is how to feed the baby. We want to promote exclusive breastfeeding in all moms and especially in teens. They have a higher risk of delivering prematurely which means their babies need the colostrum and breast milk to help with their development. It can be frustrating for health care providers who are working with teen moms, because they may not see the benefit of attending breastfeeding classes, learning how to pump and getting the baby to latch on every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The clinicians who have the most success, work with the teen mom where she is, and are flexible. An all or nothing, you must do it my way approach, hardly ever works. Teens feel overwhelmed, discouraged and decide to give up when they can't meet the expectations of perfection.
Encouraging teen moms to breastfeed as much as possible and utilize pumped milk or formula in between is helpful. Education, support and plugging them in to resources that they can drop in and use is essential as well as any phone support that's available.