Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Breast is best

From the moment that little pregnancy test lit up like a string of Christmas lights, I knew that I would breastfeed my son, Malachi.

Today, it is a common choice to skip the "boobottle" and, instead, offer the bottle. While I do not judge any woman who decides rubber over nature (I understand that, sometimes, mommy doesn't have a choice) I do encourage the former. After a little research, this is why:

Benefits for Baby:

-Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
-Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
-Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
-The analysis of 14 studies conducted since 1988 found that overall, longer-term breastfeeding was linked to a 24 percent lower risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukemia. Breastfeeding for 6 months or less appeared to reduce ALL risk by 12 percent.

Benefits for Mama:

-Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
-Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
-Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
-Breastfeeding is the best diet, *ever*!! I gained 39lbs during my pregancy, weighing in at 154lbs the week before I gave birth. By the time Malachi was six weeks old, I was down to 121lbs. Thats 33lbs in six weeks!!!

In my own experience, however, I know that breastfeeding does come with its own set of sacrifices which include but are not limited to the following:

-The all-too-familiar engorgement.

-Intense hot flashes.

-The feeling of being turned on. Now, let's all be mature here- nipples were created for more than just nursing.

-Thirst. As if you haven't had a drop of water in days.

-Sore, dry and/or cracked nipples! Ouch!

-Extinct libido. Mommies: if while you're nursing, you feel that your libido has shrunk drastically, don't get discouraged. Breastfeeding and low sex drive often go hand in hand for many reasons. One is: "The hormone prolactin is necessary for milk production in breastfeeding moms. Unfortunately for the woman who wishes for an active sex life, prolactin also lowers the sex drive. Prolactin is an anterior pituitary peptide hormone (I'm quoting this, so I hope I'm not the only one totally lost on that sentence)that begins lactation in new mothers and is needed to maintain breastfeeding." For the longest time, I would (and still do- sorry babe!) recoil at the slighest sexual touch. Am I broken? Will I ever want to be intimate again? My doctor, God bless that woman, assured me that I wasn't and I will. If, in the meantime, you cannot handle your sex-drive dive, you can ask for some estrogen cream and within weeks your love life will be revved up!

I could go on and on (and on) about this subject, but I don't want to bore you. In ending, I would like to give one piece of advice to mommies-to-be, new mommies, or even women who will be mommies in the distant future! When you're at the hospital, ask for a nurse who is a trained lactation consultant or an actual lactation consultant at every feeding. Don't let her leave until you feel that your little one has latched on properly and it feels alright. I did that at the hospital and truly believe that it's what helped avoid any unnecessary discomfort -cough- agony.

In the end, I know all mommies want what's best for their little bundle of joy- whether that is the breast or not. And that's all that counts! :)


P.S. I'd love to hear feedback! Questions, comments, concerns, tips, stories... you get the idea ;)


Anonymous said...

I love that you wrote about breast feeding Sazaran! It truly is the best bet for little ones and moms. Not only does it offer any number of immunological benefits, a decrease in childhood obesity, perfect nutritional balance, and make financial sense, it also makes mom hold her infant about 8-10 inches away from her face, which is the distance at which he or she can see your face. Coincidence? No way.

Nomz said...

I hated breast feeding. With a passion. I hated it at home and in public. But I did it, for six months, with both of them. I also believe it's the best thing for the same time, Im really grateful for this super smart doctors/scientists that are coming out with things that are so close to breast milk that it gives mothers other options.

Good most miss Sazaran!

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