I’m back from a super long hiatus as I settled into motherhood. My sweet little princess sure keeps me busy! There is nothing I love more than being a mom and I feel so blessed that we’ve had such a great breastfeeding relationship. I always knew breastfeeding was important to me and since giving birth, I’ve become even more of an advocate for breastfeeding. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I’m singing the praises of breastfeeding and sharing some resources.
Breastfeeding provides many benefits for mom and baby, and the bond between a mother and child while nursing is like nothing else. There is something so beautiful about looking down at this precious human being that I created and knowing that my body is providing perfect nourishment specifically for her. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding on demand for the first 6 months of life. Here are some of the specific benefits:
- Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients and antibodies they need for healthy development
- It is safe, contains antibodies, is readily available and free
- Exclusive breastfeeding can be a source of birth control in the first 6 months postpartum (98% effective although not fail safe)
- Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer
- Breastfeeding helps women return to pre-pregnancy weight faster and lowers the rate of obesity
- Breastfeeding delvelops a special bond between mother and baby
- Adolescents and adults who were breastfed are less likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to develop Type II diabetes
- Another long term benefit is increased intelligence as shown in this new study
- Breastfeeding reduces the cost of healthcare by promoting healthier women and children
- If all WIC babies were breastfed, economical savings would be $33,000,000 per month!
- Breastfeeding reduces global pollution by decreasing the use of resources and energy required to produce, process, package, distribute, promote and dispose of materials created by the manufacture of artificial milk
- Reduced tax burden on communities and government to ensure children are properly fed
- You can find more benefits of breastfeeding here
My breastfeeding journey has certainly not been without struggle. For starters, I have flat nipples which ,made it really difficult for Nora to latch on. Above is one of the fabulous nurses at the hospital helping us nurse for the first time. I ended up using a nipple shield for the first 4-6 weeks so it was easier for Nora to access the breast. Weaning off the shield was a challenge but I felt so great once we didn’t need it anymore.
When Nora was about a week or ten days old, I developed a really bad case of mastitis. I spent almost a week in bed drinking fluids, nursing, and snuggling with my little darling. My temperature fluctuated between 100 and 103 degrees along with aches, extreme pain in my breasts, fatigue and lots of tears. I felt like I had the flu. Because antibiotics were the last thing I wanted in my brand new baby’s gut, I opted for some natural remedies to get through. I drank a lot of water with some apple cider vinegar, pumped up my Vitamin C intake, took echinacea, used Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Booby Tubes warmed up and did nothing but rest. It was not fun, but I made it through without having to take antibiotics.
After finally giving up the nipple shield, I still felt like we were struggling a bit. As Nora got a little older, I wondered why she was still eating non-stop and why it was still somewhat painful for me each time. She was also having some reflux issues and from research, I discovered she may have a lip and tongue tie. I decided to have it examined to see if anything needed to be done. At 11 weeks of age, Nora had a laser frenectomy. She had a Class IV maxillary frenum attachment and a Type III or Type IV tongue tie. I only wish I would have discovered it sooner so we could have taken care of it before 11 weeks. This article from Mommypotamus was priceless in helping me determine that there was a problem! For all future kids, I’ll have them checked much sooner to determine if there is a problem.
After overcoming all those obstacles, I am so proud that we are 5 months in and still going strong with exclusive breastfeeding! I plan to start baby led weaning around 6-7 months after speaking with Nora’s doctor. Because she’s quite the little chunk, it sure doesn’t look like she needs anything but mommy’s milk for now. The longer I can hold off on solids, the happier I’ll be. EBF baby poop washes out of her cloth diapers so nicely and I’ve heard that once solids are in the picture, it’s a whole different ballgame.
There is a beautiful video someone made featuring mothers breastfeeding. I think it is important for women to nurse in public (to their comfort level) and help normalize breastfeeding. It is a healthy, natural thing that women were made to do and there is nothing shameful about it. For more great resources, check out pages like KellyMom and La Leche League.
Check out other posts on breastfeeding here.