This last month has been hard with breastfeeding. ( I wrote about it here) I recently was at a point where I was having to choose between supplementing with formula or using natural techniques to regain my breast milk supply. I was starting to get pretty hard on myself. My husband is wonderful, and I felt like he let me off the hook. He said “you can supplement, you have made it 10 months!”
Believe me, I fully understand why women provide formula for their babies. I do not want to shame them, but I just believed in my heart that I was capable, willing, and enthused about the prospect of feeding my baby my milk a year (at least). I wanted to just throw out some of the factors that made me commit to re-establishing my supply when it was low and why I believe America (and many western countries) need to be proactive in making boobs and babies more normal in society.
- Many women continue this practice for many reasons. You would be surprised to know that the worldwide weaning age is a little over 4 years of age.
- Even when mothers are poorly nourished, the nutritional content of their milk remains surprisingly good.
- The most socially disadvantaged mothers in the United States are the least likely to breast-feed their babies. Because of the poor economic and sanitary conditions, these are often the babies who most need breast milk’s clean balanced nutrients.
- Breast-feeding is especially good for babies when they become ill. It is high in antibodies. When a baby is sick, the baby’s saliva stimulates the breast to make antibodies specific to the illness.
- Recent studies have shown that breast-fed babies are less likely to develop diabetes.
- Breast milk is nutritionally ideal for babies. Breastfeeding is the most natural source of nourishment for babies. Mother’s milk will supply all the nutritional needs for her baby for the first 6 months after birth. Breast-feeding has been proven to be far superior to any other type of nourishment for infants. Breast milk changes as the baby grows. As the baby grows and nutritional needs change, the milk also changes to meet those needs.
- Breast feeding is economical. It is free! Formula is a major expense.
- Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed. This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial.
- Breastfeeding mamas sleep on average 45 minutes more a night, compared to those who formula feed.
- Breastfeeding reduces mama’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis. The longer she breastfeeds, the higher the benefit. In fact, a woman who breastfeeds for 8 years has nearly a 0% risk of breast cancer.
- Human milk boosts a baby’s immune system big time—helping baby fight viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, including:
- Respiratory tract infections
- Ear infections
- Bacterial meningitis
- Urinary tract infections
- Infant diarrhea
- Common colds and flus
12. Breastfeeding can actually reduce baby’s risk of disease later in life, including:
- Type I and II diabetes
- Hodgkin’s disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
To be fair, I see the many difficulties:
- social influences
- Cultural norms
- Difficulty maintaining supply
- Fear that it is not enough
- It can be a pain, literally
I never felt that attachment thing, like “I love feeding my baby, I feel so close to her when I do it!” In fact, I stopped feeding her directly when she started to bite so bad my milk was red. But, taking a close look at data, these factors were literally why I made the choice I did. Honestly, I cannot wait for a symmetrical chest and a full night’s sleep, but I love that this list gives me more peace than sleep can.