So from all these heavy breastfeeding posts on my blog, like here, here, here and here, whilst Im keeping it very very real, you may start to wonder whether I truly am pro- breastfeeding. I mean it all sounds so… so negative. So I decided to focus on some positivity today. Because gosh darnit, there’s so many positives about breastfeeding, it certainly needs the spotlight.
Now, before we get started, lets be clear on something, this post is not, in anyway trying to sideline formula feeding moms. ( #fedisbest ) It is instead to help highlight the incredible abilities of our breasts and of breastmilk.
Yes, yes, I still believe it’s very necessary to share one’s experiences even the darker ones, so as to kind of throw that proverbial lifeline out, to give that extra bit of tether, or to add some fuel to the flame of hope of any mother out there who has been left shell shocked and isolated because of the harsh reality that not everything is rainbows and butterflies like it is in magazines. So yes, I believe breastfeeding here in S.A still needs a lot more awareness and proper support. However,I think its time for the pendulum to swing back the other way and lets look at some of those rainbows and butterflies, shall we?
So enough jibber-jabber, lets go:
1. Make it burn, baby – Wanna burn off those extra stores your body made during pregnancy? Breastfeed! The metabolic energy it takes to make breastmilk is averagely the equivalent to walking about 11.26 km. Results, of course, do vary depending how much baby drinks and how well you empty the breast. So, remember, the more regularly and how well you empty the breast, the faster and the more milk you make. The more milk you make, the greater the energy requirement by your body.
You like the sound of that? I thought you might! Well…
2. To give you even more perspective on that energy consumption bit, milk making takes up 25% of your body’s energy output, in comparison to your brain which is only 20 %.
Who’da thunk, eh?
3. Reduce postpartum recovery and suck it all in – breastfeeding mama’s heal faster in the postpartum, as breastfeeding promotes the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy size quicker, thus lowering overall postpartum blood loss as well.
4. Basic Instincts – yes, of course this can be quite a skill to master for both you and baby. (that’s stating it mildly) However, straight after birth, with all the hormones pumping through both your’s and baby’s bodies, newborns that are held skin to skin within the first hour of birth, tend to have the knack of breastfeeding right there then – driven by pure instinct. However, as hormones decrease, the knack doesn’t always stick. (Also keep in mind, any interventions during birth may affect the hormone levels of mother and babe, which in turn may affect the instinct)
Mother nature is a genius!
5. Boobs of disproportions: So whether you’re a lefty or a righty, apparently your right boob will be bigger. Why? I don’t know! It just is. (I wonder if it has anything to do with the placement of the heart?)
She’s genius, but, yes, a little odd.
6. Liquid gold– colostrum is not referred to as such a precious substance for nothing! Its chock full of antibodies, high in protein, as well as leukocytes that help build newborns’ immunity, helps pass the first tar-like first stools (meconium), helps expel bilirubin thereby reducing chances of jaundice, and is often crucial to survival in some premature babies. That’s just to name but a few of its glorious abilities.
7. Birth crawl – once more thanks to hormones surging through your’s and baby’s bodies, immediately after birth, if baby is left in mom’s tummy, baby does what they call the birth crawl. As in actually freakin’ crawl! (Result do vary, depending on the amount of interventions used during birth). Unknowing, I left Morgan-Lee on my tummy, and she freakin crawled to my breasts. And even whilst skin to skinning with dad, I watched how she, this supposedly pap newborn not even 30 minutes old, crawled up his chest, almost over his shoulder!
Mind blown yet?
8. I smell mommy – you’re baby could literally pick you out from a lineup. She knows your scent. That’s why you’ll often hear someone tell you as a new mom, “she can smell your milk”.
9. Sprinkler system – All those little bumps on your nipple, are in fact not braille for your man…it is fact, from when the milk shall spout. Not just one little spount, but a whole bunch of them!
10. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better – bigger boobs do not mean more milk. Size does not determine whether or not a woman can or cannot breastfeed, or how well she will feed.
11. Get high- release of oxytocin – During feeding, the love hormone that tends to leave both mom and baby feeling relaxed and happy is released. Of course, as a side note, I can see a lot of newborn moms raising an eyebrow at that statement like Im talking through my bum. Yeah, those early days can often be stressful. Ive been there. But I think they mean when all the issues are sorted, ladies. Then its all happy days.
12. Our breasts are actually one Intelligent cooling system – Our breasts can detect even one degree of fluctuation or deflation in the temperature of baby, and will adjust appropriately to bring baby’s temperature to the desired temp.
What’s even cooler is that a mom could have twins on her chest, with one kid on the left breast who’s getting cold and the other kid on the right breast who’s getting feverish, and each breast will adjust to the correct specific temperature independent from each other.
Mind officially blown!
13. Breastfed babies are at lower risk of SIDS.
14.Cavities: – Despite the myth, breast milk actually protects your baby’s teeth against cavity causing bacteria. So go on, mama, baby can fall asleep on the boob safe from cavities. For more on how breastmilk protects your babies teeth, read here.
15. Sleep dust: Breastmilk releases CCG’s, often why babies nod off whilst sleeping. They however only last for about 20 minutes in the body, so all those cat napper babies out there may just wake up at around this point for yet another feeding.
16. The only perfectly balanced meal ever- Breastmilk has everything that baby in it that baby needs to thrive on, and changes throughout the day. Thus providing custom-designed meals, on demand.
17. Communicating those special orders– did you know, that your baby’s sputum communicates with the receptors in your nipple to tell your breasts exactly what nutrients it needs! So baby’s needs are always tended to no matter what. (one of good reasons to try and toss your nipple shield, momma!)
18. Calling 911 –No. 17 above, includes any special orders for antibodies. If there are antibodies that baby does not yet have or able to produce yet, the nipples pick this up and tell the body to produce them, which are then given to baby through the milk.
I know right, boobs are freaking awesome!?
19. Your breasts are never actually empty – even after you thought you pumped out that last drop, your breasts are actually constantly producing milk, and thus are ready for action whenever baby wants it. And you thought you as a mom worked 24/7! : )
20. Reduces mama’s risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. And get this, the longer momma feeds, the higher the benefit. In fact, as reported in articles, a woman who breastfeeds for 8 years has nearly zero percent chance of breast cancer!
21. And to top it off, if you’re not too fussed about your future health momma, what about your baby girl’s? Breastfeeding can actually reduce her lifetime risk of breast cancer by 25%!!
22. It also reduces baby’s risks of developing certain diseases later in life:
Type I diabetes, Celiac disease, Leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes and Crohn’s disease
23. Healing factor almost like Wolverine: It’s like a cure all to everything! ear infection, eye infections, pneumonia, cuts, you name it!
24. Breastmilk boosts a baby’s immune system in a big way: Helps baby fight off viral, bacterial and parasitic infections including: stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, and meningitis
25. The protection of just one drop: In just one drop of breastmilk, there one million white blood cells (called macrophages). Thus, providing immunity to general sickness like the common cold and flu, and other viral and bacterial infections. Slight caveat: yes, in a few cases baby could still get sick (depending on multiple reasons) but even then, one thing’s guaranteed; the impact of baby’s illness is greatly reduced in a baby that is breastfed.
26. Coat of armour: Breastmilk contains immunoglobulin A, which coats the stomach lining like a giant protective layer of armour against any germs that would want to leak through into the crevices of the stomach lining. Decreasing allergic reactions.
27. Stuffy noses be gone! –Breastmilk also helps unblock congestion in little nosies. For realises, yo!
28. Did you know that even a woman who hasn’t physically given birth to a child, think adoption, can also produce milk to feed her child. Thereby providing the protection and perfect food to her child, as well as strengthen the bond (thank you, oxytocin!)
29.Better jaw alignment: Breastfed babies have better jaw alignment and are less likely to need orthodontic work as they get older, as a study of 10,000 children found. The better jaw alignment associated with breastfeeding can even mean less snoring and a lowered risk for a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea–the blockage of air flow during sleep, which can disturb sleep patterns and lead to other health problems.
30. Tongue development: The sucking action used to breastfeed involves complex motions of the facial muscles and tongue. This is said to improve the development of baby’s facial muscles and the shape of the palate, as well as the tongue.
31. Disaster strikes, your milk makes a comeback- did you know that it has been noted in a few cases, that post-disaster (floods, earthquakes,etc), in women who have previously breastfed, their breasts as part of survival instinct (for her offspring), will start lactating again!
What did I miss?! I’m pretty sure there’s plenty more out there that I couldn’t recall whilst writing this. You spot anything, please, feel free to add in the comments below!
Our breasts are not only beautiful but also pretty remarkable creations of nature! So whether you are breastfeeding or not, big or small, lopsided or eyes straight, perky or reaching for dropped pennies, take pride in those gorgeous mounds of yours’, ladies! They are magnificent!
Love your breasts! x