Friday, July 23, 2010

Breastfeeding: Why I Love It (continued)

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

While I was expecting, my mother gave me this book. Except it didn't quite look like this. Her copy was older, worn, and the pages were wrinkled and dog-eared; it was easy to see it had been an important reference for her during the years she breastfed her nine children. (Yes, that's right...all nine of us!)

I promised to give more reasons for why I love breastfeeding, so here they are! Some are personal, some are factual. But they're all true! :)

1) Breastmilk is perfect for newborns. Colostrum, or what some people call "liquid gold," is produced for the baby and contains priceless antibodies that protect their young immune systems. These antibodies fight illnesses and keep a newborn as healthy as possible.

2) If your baby is born premature, the breastmilk automatically adjusts to accommodate the baby's nutritional needs. The protein, fat, and calorie count is higher when the baby is younger. What infant formula does that?

3) Breastfeeding is linked with the hormone, prolactin, which is related to ovulation and fertility. Whenever the baby nurses, ovulation is suppressed. This is God's beautiful and natural way to let us enjoy our baby and let the mother's body be fully there for her child. As the nursings become less frequent and prolactin levels return to normal, fertility will return.

4) Breastfeeding is the most natural, effective, and safe way to lose that baby weight! When we're pregnant, areas of our bodies that we're always concerned about looking too big definitely become too big. But...they are too big for a reason! Once a woman begins breastfeeding, all the fat her body has stored for nine months starts being used. Breastmilk has a very high fat content, and guess where that fat comes from? Yep, our derrieres. :P Thanks to our little liposuction machines - I mean, our babies.

5) Since breastmilk is 88% water, there is no need to supplement with water, juice, or milk to prevent dehydration. As a matter of fact, it can be harmful to the baby to give water rather than breastmilk, as it deprives the baby of the nutrients, fat, and antibodies. In the summer months, as long as the baby is breastfeeding frequently enough, the only person needing to drink water is the mother. The body prioritizes for the baby, so us mothers need to take care of ourselves!

6) It protects your baby and reduces the risk of allergies, ear infections, obesity, diabetes, leukemia, and SIDS.

7) It works on a supply-and-demand system. The more you nurse, the more milk will be produced. During those vital growth spurts, as long as the baby nurses whenever she needs it, she will always have the right amount.

8) With breastfeeding, you learn the cues of your baby's hunger. There is no need of measuring or keeping track of ounces or making sure a bottle is finished. If your baby needs just one side of nursing, that's okay (as long as she's properly gaining weight). If she needs more, there's always the other side. It's very laid back. We like that chilled way of life. :)

9) It is easily digestible and therefore, very rarely does a baby become constipated while breastfeeding. (Of course, once table foods are introduced things may change.)

10) It's all right there. No fancy formula, no imitation trying to be as good as the real thing. Just the real thing!


Iluska Ikeda said...

I lost so much weight breastfeeding, seriously. My family was actually concerned that I lost too much (looking back at my pictures at the time I can see why, haha).

Let me add one more reason that I've found breastfeeding my toddler:

1) It's a fool proof way to calm (most) tantrums, boo boos, upsets, and a lot of the emotional upheaval that comes with being a toddler.

That being said, I have to say that I felt utterly inadequate when breastfeeding didn't come naturally to me and Naomi. I had been going to LLL's meetings, reading all I could, and I tried to be as prepared as I could. Still it was the most challenging part of being a new mom, because she wouldn't latch for the first few weeks. I had a good support system online (even LLL members kept telling me that it would come naturally!) and other moms who were also having problems but who kept encouraging each other. We all made it and eventually it became smooth sailing. But I really wish there was more discussion on how difficult it can be for some moms and babies. I feel like for moms who want to breastfeed but end up having all kinds of complications, there's this pressure, this expectation that it will come so naturally (because it IS the natural way to feed our babies), and when it doesn't it can be so damaging to our images as moms, our adequacy, and our confidence. Obviously, since N. and I are still going, these can be overcome. I just wish there was more discussion about it.

Iluska Ikeda said...

Wow, that turned into a long vent, sorry.

Maggie said...

That's a good point... I guess I've forgotten about those first awkward days where she wouldn't latch on right away. It was a little scary because everyone made it look so easy! You were very lucky to have the support and encouragement! :)

Natalie said...

Iluska, I lost so much weight after my second baby was born that my family was concerned, too (even though I felt great, ha ha)... I was just over 100lbs. I'm about 12 lbs more than that now, and pretty happy with the way I look after #3... though I wish those super-skinny jeans fit again. ;)
My first was so stubborn at nursing... he just wanted to lie there with his mouth open and expected the milk to come to him. It took us weeks and weeks to finally get him to latch on and stay on. My husband was in another state much of that time, with no email or phone contact, so that was tough. Thankfully I had my mom for a few days, and both her help and my MIL's help over the phone. Otherwise, I know I wouldn't have stuck it out. The other two never had any troubles at all.
If only breastfeeding meant a delay in fertility for me! ;) 2 months is too soon, but I am definitely in the minority there... a lot of moms I know go for a year or more before fertility returns... that's so cool!

DanandAmanda said...

I am so thankful that someone has commented on how hard breastfeeding can be. It's so true that there's a lot of expectations to succeed when everyone you are close with supports you and knows it's best for your baby. With my first, she was tongue-tied and, therefore, had trouble latching on until the frenulum stretched enough. ...And then we traveled every other weekend until she was 5 months, then moved only to move back home again when she was 10 months. The 5 months we lived in a hotel I spent pretty much shirt-less trying to get her to want to nurse. We stuck it out for a tough 11 months together before I finally had to supplement because she truly wasn't getting the nutrition she needed. I felt like a complete failure and was so ashamed at giving my daughter formula that I would hide in bedrooms at family's houses or dressing rooms in public to feed her the bottle. I wish I had had support then and people realize that I was doing what I had to for my daughter. This time around, with our lives stationary and much more relaxed, my second latched on easily and hasn't stopped since. Breastfeeding is, no doubt, the best choice, but we all have to remember to encourage and support those moms who have really done their best. And I know many who stop early are lazy or haven't had support, but that's not the case for all of us. (I'm sorry I went on and on, but I really feel strongly about this since it affected our family so much!)