My Favorite Thing

A lot of my friends have gotten pregnant or had a baby this summer it seems. Crazy to be in that phase of life… but the beauty of new babies is that they remind me of my favorite thing ever. For those of you who know me well, you know what’s coming…

BREASTFEEDING!

Yes, that’s exactly right. Breastfeeding. In my English 2010 class we had to write a persuasive research paper, and my professor encouraged us to think of a topic we are very passionate about so it would be easy to defend. Well after two weeks of trying to come up with something I was more passionate about then Deron Williams, I started my paper “The Breast is Best”

So ladies, truly the breast is best. Let me tell you why. First of all, human milk contains over 200 components, most of which cannot be duplicated in formulas. It’s been said that “human milk is an elegantly designed natural resource.” I want that framed in my bedroom. Elegant is the truth! Human milk is formulated to act as a sole source of complete nutrition for infants for up to sixth months. The composition of milk is changeable over a single feeding, over a day, or over the first few months of life. What I am saying here, is that human milk can change the composition of vitamins, fat, protein, etc to be exactly what the infant needs. No switching up formulas, adding vitamins, or stressing. And not only is breast milk formulated to nurture, but also to protect infants from infectious and chronic diseases. Can your Enfamil do that for you? NO!
So let me lay out the difference for you here:

This is a chart provided by WIC (a national program from Women, Infant, and Children). Look at all those fabulous things that you can only get from breastfeeding alone. Even from the very beginning, the first 3 days after an infant is born, the woman produces colostrum. Colostrum is a thick yellowish fluid that contains secretory immunoglobulin A and lactoferrin. Why is this important? Well exposing your infant to these immunoglobulins so early in life will set their immune system up for good health the rest of their life. Numerous studies show that breast-fed babies have stronger immune systems.

Other benefits for the baby:

  1. Human milk is isosmotic and meets the requirements for infants without having to add other fluids.
  2. Human milk has a lower protein content than formulas, and therefore will not overload the immature kidneys with nitrogen.
  3. Whey protein in human milk forms a soft easily digestible curd (aka you wont get those clay-like diaper surprises like those you find with formula fed infants.)
  4. The higher cholesterol content in human milk has been linked to lower serum cholesterol levels in people later in life who were breastfed.
  5. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), promote optimal development of the central nervous system. (Side note- some formulas now contain DHA, but others do not.)

On the flip side, babies who are formula-fed compared to breastfed infants are more likely to have: pneumonia or asthma, ear infections, diarrhea or constipation, allergies, meningitis, UTI’s, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and illnesses in general. I know this seems shocking and a little scary? But the studies don’t lie.

And let’s quickly talk about the benefits for momma’s. One time I over heard two ladies talking about the arrival or their unborn bebes. One (who was expecting her first) was discussing her indecision whether to formula feed or not. The other (who was a veteran mother) quickly jumped in with the affirmative; yes she should absolutely NOT breastfeed. Her reasons were because “you will feel like a machine, always tied down to dish out the milk. You’re body won’t feel like your own, you will be tired, and you will never feel sexy” Seriously, she said that. Well I won’t argue with the last statement, but I was ready to jump in and print them off a copy of “The Breast is Best!” I did not want this total stranger to miss out on the mommy benefits.

Benefits for Mom

  1. Breastfeeding stimulates the hormone oxytocin (needed for milk ejection) which stimulates uterine contractions to return the uterus to non-pregnancy size. What’s sexier than that?
  2. Breastfeeding delays the return of fertility for the duration (aka save some bucks on birth control!)
  3. Many women who breastfeed experience psychological benefits, including  increased self-confidence.
  4. And need I mention the bond that is formed between the mother and the baby. Every mother I know who chose to breastfeed says it was the most special time to attach and grow close to their new infant.
  5. But if that’s not a good enough reason, lactating can require up to 500 calories a day, so those who breastfeed typically get back to their pre-pregnancy weight much quicker. So if the gym isn’t for you, you should highly consider breastfeeding.
  6.  And finally, women who nurse at a younger age and for a longer duration have lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.

I apologize if this post is uncomfortable. Should I be concerned that talking about breasts and uterine contractions are so easy for me? Maybe it’s just obvious WIC should offer me employment. Please check out their website, I will post it again. WIC. If you need more advice as to how to actually go about breastfeeding, this is your link. They offer classes and employ amazing mentors. This is also a good one. There are no excuses, unless you have AIDs.

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3 thoughts on “My Favorite Thing

  1. Very nice! Yes, I have breastfed my 7 children for a grand sum of about 12 years– lots of benefits, it is true. There are a couple of things that I want to point out in retrospect. Calcium drawn from the mother with pregnancy and breastfeeding (especially with exclusive breastfeeding that I used) can be pretty significant. I came from a family that used very little milk in my childhood, perhaps due to some familial lactose intolerance. Our low calcium intake resulted in lower calcium binding prior to my onset of pregnancy and childbirth, which is typically when calcium storing plateaus in young women. The babies are all healthy, but I started having problems with my teeth at age 28 while pregnant with my 4th, when the dentist found my first cavity in my lifetime. Then, many more problems with my teeth followed. I wish I had more support on the calcium restoration early in life and during those years of pregnancy and childbirth. I share my story because I want to alert others to the problem, which is significant for families with economic and digestive issues. My diet had NO soda or refined sugars and was centered around whole foods. My mother was trained in nutrition by the Seventh Day Adventists and my diet during my childhood was extremely unusual. As a note on the calcium issues– adding more calcium to my diet once the problem appeared just did not do enough to fix the problem. Early calcium is very key to preventing these problems.

    Oxytocin increases bonding between mother and child, and often spills over into the rest of the family. But, don’t try to save money on BC with breastfeeding. Birth control that almost works is not so good. Breastfeeding does require calories, but it is no replacement for the gym and regular exercise. Keep working out at some level, even if it is just pushing baby in the stroller.

    About feeling sexy– for some of us it is the only time in our lives that we have breasts, so I felt sexier breastfeeding. My uterus was back to pre-pregnancy size in 4-7 days, which is amazing and wonderful, but that does not advocate for the long-term breastfeeding. On the weaning weeks, I usually lost 8-10 pounds and got a huge surge of energy, but part of the surge is not just about weaning, it is also about the fact that the child is older and more capable. By that age my babies were potty trained, talking and feeding themselves.

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