A midwife told me if you breastfeed even once or a thousand times, the benefits it has on your baby are numerous. I never knew there was such a science to breastfeeding though. I thought it was simply insert child here, milk comes out. This I quickly realized is not the case. There are many intricacies I never knew!
I have been exclusively breastfeeding my baby now for the past 5 weeks.
From day one in the hospital I vowed I would try to breastfeed for as long as I could and then when he gets a bit older introduce formula. As testing as it has been, I’m sticking to it for now and pumping when I am away from him. I completely understand how breastfeeding is not for everyone, and how time consuming it is for Mother’s with other children and Moms with busy schedules so everyone is different.
My little one is currently cluster feeding every few days. If you aren’t familiar with this term, I wasn’t either until a few weeks ago. Cluster feeding is Mother Nature’s spirit taking over my babies body forcing him to feed nonstop for hours during a growth spurt. The science behind this is he will be needing extra milk when he gets bigger, so in order for me to produce more to meet his growing appetite, he needs to literally suck me dry, even if he’s absolutely full to the brim so that I will start supplying more.
At times over the past month, Ive often fed for a solid 12 hours every few days with some breaks to go to the bathroom and to eat. I’m not exaggerating!
My baby is very strong and at first his gums felt more like big teeth biting me so that took some getting used to also. I tried nipple cream on my sore and cracked nipples and also nipple shields and eventually I got used to it. Now thankfully there is no pain at all.
Its awful to say this but I also am still slightly embarrassed breastfeeding in a public area and in front of people, often having to excuse myself when I’m out, to sit on a toilet for twenty mins to nurse if I haven’t expressed milk. This is something I’m slowly getting used to and I’ll need to overcome as it is the most natural process and no one really minds. I admire those women that just go for it anywhere, and hoping I get to that stage at some point myself.
All of this did make me question should I continue? Is it more exhaustion and hassle than it’s worth?
I am convinced that yes, it’s worth it.
I’m finally coming into the stage where my milk is flowing, leaking actually which is also extremely bizarre when you look down and notice your shirt soaking wet. (Maternity pads were a good investment for me). It’s brilliant not having to worry about sterilizing bottles and getting up in the middle of the night when I can just lift him over to me from his co-sleeper and feed him and cuddle him back to sleep.
I hope to continue for the next few months and these are some of the reasons I keep telling myself to not reach for the formula just yet.
1. Apparently breast milk changes with your growing baby’s needs! At the beginning of your newborns life your milk comes out as a clear substance called colostrum and it’s filled with antibiotics and all sorts of vitamins and minerals. The milk then changes every few days with the needs required to completely support your baby at that age. That’s pretty amazing!
2. Colostrum has a laxative effect that will help get out all the babies meconium (first black poo) from his bowels, which if it remains for too long can cause jaundice.
3. The temperature of the milk is regulated by the temperature of your baby. This is why skin to skin is so important. If your baby is overheated the breast-milk will cool to cool your baby, and if your baby is cold your milk actually heats up. Your breast’s are basically a Starbucks barista.
4. Your breasts also act as a medicine cabinet. If your baby is sick, your body will release antibiotics into the milk in order to heal your baby!
5. Did I mention you burn around 500 calories a day breastfeeding! I am still eating like I’m pregnant and it’s completely guilt-free as breastfeeding burns the same amount of calories as a spin class!
6. I could actually feel my uterus contracting back to shape with every suckle! It pulls your womb back into pre pregnancy shape in a matter of days.
7. Breastfeeding releases Oxytocin which is a happy hormone, it also helps decrease the bleeding faster and helps with postpartum depression and healing.
8. You don’t need to worry about sterilizing bottles, carrying around formula or your baby ever going hungry as you are a walking fridge.
9. When your baby wakes up at night you literally can stay half asleep, lift him/her over to you from the co-sleeper and satisfy their hunger or thirst without waking or disturbing you, your partner or your baby!
10. Finally and one of the most enjoyable parts is the bonding when you gaze into each other’s eyes, cuddling each other, knowing you are doing the best and healthiest thing for both Mom and baby.
So next time I’m tempted to reach for the formula after having not slept I try to remember how amazing this is for Theo and I, and that a short few months can have a life time of benefits.