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Breastmilk: No Assembly Required

August 11, 2021

Nursing can take a little while to get the hang of as a new mom but I can not stress enough how much it pays off. Nursing my first child was hard at first because of how he was latching. It was painful for the first week but we figured it out and after that, it was pain-free with him and my other babies. My second pregnancy was twins, now that was a learning curve! I brought a giant nursing pillow with me wherever I went and threw my modesty out the window! It wasn’t easy but I made it work because it was the best thing I could do for them. I have nursed all four of my children in almost every situation imaginable and enjoyed every second!

Here are a few of my favorite breastfeeding perks:

Breast milk is the perfect food for babies
The mother's body makes everything that the individual baby needs. Even mothers with premature babies make milk similar to colostrum until the baby is to term. Breast milk has vitamins and nutrients that benefit every part of a baby’s body. Human milk is much more digestible than cow or soy-based formulas because it is made for humans! It also contains immunities from the mother so the baby doesn’t get sick as easily.

The nursing relationship that I share with my 19-month-old son is precious to my family. Growing up in a rather conservative mid-western environment, I saw women breastfeed their young babies until about six months, but I mostly remember babies being fed with bottles of formula or with cow's milk, not their own mother's expressed milk.

From talking with my mom now, this really was a sign of the times. My mom remembers our pediatrician telling her that her breastmilk stopped being nutritious and beneficial after six months. Also, pumping or expressing her own milk was not something that she or other women in her circle did, or were made aware of. Cows milk with a little Karo (a brand name corn syrup) syrup was what she transitioned us off of the breast with in the 1960s and 70s when my brothers, sister, and I were born.

Nursing is good for the mom
Nursing shrinks the uterus after birth, helping it get back to its pre-pregnancy state. Nursing also reduces the likelihood of diseases like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression, and helps moms lose weight.

Nursing is good for bonding and emotions
Nursing releases the hormone oxytocin also known as the love drug. It promotes maternal feelings of bonding and love for the child. For the baby, being held, stroked, and looked at is a wonderful way to relax and get used to his new world as well as bond with his mother. Nursing is emotionally soothing for babies and toddlers, it is not just a way to get food. This is one of my favorite reasons for nursing an older child – any tool for calming a sad, mad, or restless toddler is invaluable!

Today there are so many resources like La Leche League, personal breastfeeding counselors, and more to help moms as there are very few instances when a mom physically can not breastfeed. In those situations, however, The World Health Organization recommends first: the mother pumping her own milk for the baby, second: the pumped milk of another mother and, only if those are not possible, for the formula to be used. (Attachment parenting: instinctive care for your baby and young child by Katie Allison Granju)

Nursing a baby is a very special moment in time between a mother and child. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, amazing opportunity for each child. I have been so lucky to breastfeed all four of my children, including a set of twins, and each time was a unique bonding experience for my baby and me.

 

Further Reading:

Breastfeeding in a Carrier

Dr Sears: Breastfeeding Benefits Top to Bottom

Dr Sears: Nutrient by Nutrient Why Breast is Best