Are you breastfeeding blissfully or are you enduring a toe-curling horror-of-woes that breastfeeding can bring? Somewhere in between, perhaps?
Not all women can breastfeed, some choose not to and some breastfeed for a short season. I didn’t breastfeed all of my children so there’s certainly no guilt fest coming from this direction.
Whether you’re feeding like a pro or are on the brink of tossing your breasts onto the council clean up (or have!), give yourself an extra pat on the back and remind yourself of the benefits you’ve given your little bundle so-far.
Some things you do when you breastfeed:
1. Provide a deluge of nutrients to your baby
Human milk is crazy amazing. It contains a comprehensive range of vitamins and minerals required for your tiny human to grow and it’s composition is easily digestible and specific to YOUR baby!
It also contains both saturated and unsaturated fats, as well as cholesterol, an important component of brain and nerve tissue. You’ll be giving her the best shot at that Einstein IQ.
Your baby not only benefits emotionally because she’s snuggled, but when she suckles at your boob, your ‘love hormone’ oxytocin is produced. Scientists say it’s this hormone that enhances feelings of trust, love and affection. That’s plain cute.
Oxytocin creates much stronger links between nerve cells too – creating a ‘positive-feedback’ loop, where the greater the concentration of it, the faster it is produced. Win-win for baby’s nervous system!
3. Increase your baby’s immunity and health
Even before your milk ‘comes in’, colostrum (that yellowy stuff) contains a substance referred to as IgA. This substance guards your bub against germs by forming a protective layer on the mucous membranes around her intestines, nose and throat. Kinda gross but totally cool.
Once your body starts producing breastmilk, your body responds to pathogens (baddies) that are in your body and makes IgA specifically to combat them. Based on whatever your body is made vulnerable to, it in-turn creates the perfect protection for your baby.
Studies show that protection from illness goes beyond the breastfeeding stage, too. Research shows that breastfeeding can reduce the likelihood of certain cancers during childhood and may even prevent diabetes and high cholesterol, in later life.
Nothing beats the freedom of lifting your top and latching that little one on for a feed. Once those first few crazy weeks of feeding are over, and your supply has settled, it’s very probable that breastfeeding can be done with ease.
Sure beats having to sterilise bottles, plus it’s free (awesome! if you’re stingy like me) and is always served at the right temperature. Best take-out in town!
So, if you’re able to breastfeed easily or if you’ve tried it for even a short while, take heart, you’re giving (or have given) your baby so much and she will benefit from your efforts.
What’s more, you’ll feel a real sense of achievement to see her growing and developing thanks to something that’s produced by you!
OK girls…. here’s where you pause, reach over and give yourself that gentle pat on the back (and feel the love)…
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!