♥ I Love Breastfeeding ♥
Having had 3 Caesars, the third one 2 weeks ago I always felt a little robbed so being able to breastfeed gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
My oldest son is 8 years old and I was more than a little naive when it came to breastfeeding, being a first time Mom I listened to well meaning but uninformed individuals about what was best for my baby – “your baby is hungry”, “you don’t have enough milk” they said. I gave in and started offering him top up feeds, little did I know every bottle I gave my baby reduced my breast milk supply and after 4 months my baby refused the boob and preferred the bottle and well my milk supply diminished…
The second time around I did things differently – Firstly I met with a lactation consultant – one appointment was all it took for me. She showed me how to latch baby properly and gave me some great tips: The most important one being: Do not give any top up feeds! Equipped with this knowledge I successfully breastfed for two and a half years! No Bottles, no Formula and I’m proud to say that I have a very healthy, happy and bright 3 year old.
Third time around I am more at ease, we had no problems with latching and two weeks into breastfeeding my girl, we are enjoying our fourth trimester and looking forward to the next few years of breastfeeding.
Deciding how long to breastfeed for is a personal choice – only you and your baby can decide. But even if breastfeeding for just a few days your baby will receive invaluable protection.
The longer you breastfeed, the more benefits your baby will receive. Here is a timeline that might help you decide how long you will stay on this journey.
1. Nursing your baby in the first few days – he will receive the first milk called colostrum. Best described as “nature’s vaccine for the newborn”, colostrum has a high concentration of antibodies, some of which babies cannot get any other way. Through these antibodies, each mother provides her baby with protection from illnesses she has had as well as illnesses she is exposed to in their environment for as long as she is breastfeeding. Although formulas are continuously being modified to be “most like mother’s milk,” they will always fall short, because human milk is a living fluid and it is these living properties that enhance the functioning of a baby’s immune system. Colostrum is also easier to digest than the proteins in formula and is designed to meet baby’s nutritional needs. You will also benefit from these early breastfeeding days. Breastfeeding helps a mother’s body recover more quickly from childbirth by releasing hormones that contract the uterus and prevent excess bleeding. Breastfeeding is also a wonderful way to bring mother and baby closer while they’re getting to know each other.
2. Breastfeeding for four to six weeks – your milk will ease your baby through the most critical part of infancy. As a mother’s milk changes from colostrum to a thinner, more mature and plentiful milk, it continues to contain protective antibodies. That is why breastfed newborns are less likely to become sick when exposed to germs and illnesses and have fewer digestive and respiratory problems. Breastfed babies are rarely sick or hospitalized. Breastfed babies are also less likely to suffer from bronchitis and wheezing and less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding guarantees a lot of holding and cuddles. The “mothering hormone”, prolactin, is produced every time you nurse, relaxing you and helping you and your baby form a special bond. One study showed that at one month, breastfeeding mothers were less anxious and felt closer to their babies. Breastfeeding saves money! Formulas vary in price and depending on how much of each is used, breastfeeding for one month may save between R500 and R900, not counting bottles, sterilizing solution, and electricity used for bottle feeding. Special formulas for lactose intolerant and re flux babies cost at least two to three time more than regular formula.
3. If your baby nurses for three to four months – she will be much less likely to develop ear infections. One study found that babies exclusively breastfed for at least four months develop half the ear infections of formula fed babies. Breastfeeding makes it easier for mothers to shed the extra kilos gained during pregnancy, and naturally mobilizes fat stores, even fat accumulated before pregnancy. Breastfeeding simplifies life with a baby, no matter what his age. Time isn’t diverted to the preparation of formula, and you can leave home without bringing bottles. Human milk does not stain, is not constipating, and a breastfed baby’s bowel movements have less odour, making nappy changes more pleasant. Nighttime feedings are made easier. If your baby is kept close at night, you may not even have to get out of bed to feed her. Just tuck her in next to you and both of you can drift back to sleep while she nurses.
4. If your baby nurses for six months – she will be much less likely to suffer from allergies, especially if she has been exclusively breastfed. Components in human milk protect the digestive tract from foreign proteins, which could cause allergic reactions. At about six months, a baby’s system begins producing special antibodies that take over this function, reducing the possibility of food allergies. When there is a history of allergies in the family, it is recommended to wait until this time to introduce solids, so food allergies are less likely to develop. Human milk supplies all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of her life. Breastfeeding for at least six months also provides other long-term health benefits. Breastfeeding provides reliable protection against pregnancy during the first six months when there is no menstrual bleeding, even among women who give occasional supplements. However, when a baby is breastfed without supplements or solids and the mother has no menstrual bleeding, breastfeeding offers 98% protection against pregnancy during the first six months (I would still play it safe with this one).
5. Nursing your baby for nine months – you will see him through the fastest and most important development of his life on the most valuable of foods, your milk. A baby’s brain grows most rapidly from birth to nine months, and preliminary research has found that properties in human milk may be critical for babies to reach their full intellectual potential. This study followed children up to the age of eight and found that children who were breastfed had IQs on average eight points higher than those who received only formula. The more human milk received the greater the difference. Because the milk of each species varies according to its need and it is our intelligence that sets us apart from other mammals, this is not so surprising. Cow’s milk is high in calcium because baby cows need strong bones to stand and walk. So it makes perfect sense that something in human milk promotes brain growth and intelligence. Although the health benefits of breastfeeding continue as baby grows, the emotional benefits of nursing for comfort and security become more evident around this age. A practical advantage to you is that many babies this age can go directly to the cup without ever needing bottles.
6. If your baby nurses for a year – you will have saved enough money to buy a luxury item or even treat yourself to a spa day. Your baby is now ready to try a whole range of new foods. A year of nursing has given your child a stronger immune system and many more health benefits that will last a lifetime. Studies have shown that breastfeeding offers protection from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in adulthood, as well as Hodgkin’s disease and certain chronic liver diseases. Individuals who were breastfed were also less likely to develop insulin-dependent diabetes. Breastfeeding also encourages proper facial development and makes it less likely that speech therapy and orthodontia will be needed later on. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least a year to ensure the best possible nutrition and health for your baby.
7. If your baby breastfeeds for longer than a year – you will continue to provide the highest quality nutrition and superb protection against illness at a time when infections are common. One study found that the immunological components of human milk that protect a baby from illness during the first year continue to be present in the same concentrations throughout the second year of breastfeeding. Former Surgeon General Antonia Novello has said, “It is the lucky baby…who continues to nurse until he’s two.” You will enjoy health benefits from extended nursing, too. Studies have found that the longer a woman breastfeeds over her lifetime, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Mothers who breastfeed past a year often talk of the emotional benefits gained: the comfort and security it gives their little ones, the ease it brings to nap times and bedtimes, and the opportunities it offers to relax and tune into each other during a hectic day. At this point, you and your baby have formed a solid bond, a healthy starting point from which your baby can experiment with his growing independence. Together you can work on the weaning process, progress gradually at a pace that he can handle.
8. If your baby nurses until she outgrows the need – you can feel confident that you have met your baby’s physical and emotional needs in the healthiest and most natural way possible. As long as you nurse, your milk continues to provide antibodies and other protective substances that make illnesses milder and easier to handle. In fact, families of nursing toddlers often find that their Doctor’s bills are lower for years to come. The World Health Organization encourages breastfeeding through toddler hood. Children who were nursed long-term tend to be secure. Nursing can help you and your child through the tears, tantrums, and tumbles of toddler hood. Don’t worry that your child will nurse forever. All children eventually wean no matter what you do, and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess.
Whether you breastfeed for days, weeks, months, or years, both you and your baby will enjoy many benefits. Some mothers hesitate to begin breastfeeding if they know they will not be nursing for very long. But even one nursing at the breast is of value to you and your baby.
Post by Carmen Peters – Owner of Babarazzi