5) Know why Breastfeeding is awesome
We’ve already established that you are planning to breastfeed, because its better for the baby right, the natural thing to do and all that, but do you know why?
In the final installment in this series on five things you need to know about breastfeeding before your baby arrives we look at probably the most important thing, actually understanding why breastfeeding is important for your baby and for you. It seems like a no brainer but even long-time nursers can get spun out when they find out some of the amazing facts about breast milk, its qualities and how it benefits your baby.
No pro-breastfeeding organisation today would use the slogan ‘Breast is Best’ but formula companies do. Why is that? It is because everyone knows that human breast milk is constitutionally better for the great majority of human babies, the science is in and there is no dispute. Formula companies like to use the slogan ‘breast is best’ because it gives the subtlest clause, ‘formula is almost as good’. Don’t get me wrong, I have no ill feelings towards formula or mums who use it to feed their babies and thank god we have access to it and clean drinking water!
There are so many amazing things about breast milk and breastfeeding which can’t be replicated and it can be helpful to know some of the real benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding so your desire to breastfeed your baby isn’t just because it seems like the right thing to do. If you find yourself exhausted, sore and fed up hearing that breastfeeding is ‘biologically the norm’ isn’t going to get you through the dark night. If you do know some of the benefits but still decide that switching to formula is the best thing for you and your baby than at least you do so with your eyes wide open and you will be less likely to regret that move later on or join the ‘I thought, I couldn’t breastfeed so now I’m going to hate on anything that promotes breastfeeding or makes me feel guilty because I didn’t know’ club. Rant over ladies, phew!
I’m not anti-formula feeding, I’m just anti-ignorance. Don’t ever feel guilty because you did what you had to do at the time to ensure your own mental health and stability or the health of your baby. Your baby needs you more than anything else in the world and they don’t really care what you feed them. But if you want to know the low-down on the good stuff then here is it……
I could write a 10 page blog post just on why breast milk is great but to paraphrase I’d say the most impressive thing about breast milk for me is the immunoglobulin which gets passed from Mum to bub which is basically like a little mini vaccine so every time you feed your baby breast milk you are also topping them up with antibodies to whatever bugs are floating around in your environment, you can find out more about this here.
Several studies show that there is a reduced rate of breast cancer in women who have breastfeed and the oxytocin which is released each time you breastfeed your baby not only helps your uterus to contract back to pre-baby size in the early days but also helps you bond with your new baby and feel awesome (highly recommend for mums with PND). There are lots of studies around which show that breastfed babies suffer less infection, lower rates of diabetes and obesity and have a higher IQ, it is also a major factor which can reduce a baby’s chance of dying from sudden infant death syndrome. Lastly the composition of breast milk subtly changes to meet the changing needs of the infant at different stages in their life, it is always at the right temperature and when you are out and about it is a lot easier to sling out a boob on occasion rather than hauling bottles, tins and whatever else once you get the hang of it. I wrote lastly there but actually I could go on and on but there is plenty of information our there if you are interested to learn more, in fact if you have a link to a fascinating article about breastfeeding please put it in the comments section for other 'mum's to be' to check out.
Hello, my name is Celeste. I am a postnatal doula, a breastfeeding counselor and a mother.