Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility – Breastfeeding When There Are Special Needs

Breastfeeding when there are special needs

When a mother has a disability, or gives birth to a child with special needs, they may think that breastfeeding is a goal they can’t reach. Although more support may be needed, breastfeeding is usually possible, and can be even more important.

Mothers who are experiencing a physical disability may need more support to find a position that can work for them. With time and patience, most babies will achieve a good latch. Because breastfeeding is an art, as well as a science, with time and patience and skilled help, it can work.

Some babies are born with a disability that can affect feeding. Babies born with Down’s syndrome that are breastfed, go on to have better speech and language abilities later on. Babies born with a cleft lip or palate who receive breastmilk, either at the breast or by a special feeder, will have fewer colds and breathing problems. In addition, if they have corrective surgery, breastmilk will help keep the wound from getting infected so it can heal well.

Babies who are born premature will grow better and be healthier while in the hospital and in their early months and years if they receive breastmilk while in the hospital and in the early years. Breastmilk is also especially important for brain development for premature babies.

If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding, contact your doctor, midwife, family, friends, and/or your local Public Health Unit to speak with a Public Health Nurse or Lactation Consultant to learn techniques to ease breastfeeding struggles.

Breastfeeding is a shared responsibility; you are not alone!

For more information or to contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant call the Health Unit at 519-352-7270 ext. 2903.