My name is Barbara, I am 24 years old and I am a Health Science graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho. My emphasis is Public Health and I had the opportunity to do my internship and then keep working for the WIC (women, infant and children) Program at The Eastern Idaho Public Health office. I’ve worked with a variety of clients and many different problems related to breastfeeding. It really is one of my passions. I feel like I was able to help first time mothers, who just like myself, had no idea what was going on when the nurse put that little bundle of joy in my arms. You are expected to feed, love and take care of it to the best of your ability.
I have to add that my biggest accomplishment and joy in this life is my family. I am absolutely crazy for them and I would not change anything. I am a proud stay-at-home mom and I want to be one. :)
I'm going to summarize one of the classes I teach weekly at the WIC office. I feel like this will be a good introduction to the topic of breastfeeding. As we keep the topic going I would appreciate any questions that you might have and if I’m not sure about something, I’ll make sure I’ll ask my experienced co-workers that have worked in this area for way longer than I have. If there’s any way I can help anyone on this issue, I would be more than glad to do so.
So, first of all, a little bit of a background from my experience with breastfeeding. I breastfed my oldest daughter until she was 15 months, until basically I was sick of it and when I found out I was pregnant again. I now have a 5 month old who is as much of a joy as her sister and she is also being nursed full-time. I loved and still love nursing my kids because it provides such a bond with them. I was going to school full-time when I had my first child and I was away from her for quite a while during the day. Being able to nurse when I got home gave me the feeling I was able to bond with her somehow.
So let’s start the question of why to do it first. When you compare formula to breasmilk they both have some commonalities: fat, protein, carbohydrates, DHA, ARA (fatty acids helpful for your baby’s brain development), vitamins, minerals and water.
Breastmilk has a few extras:
1- More than 15 antibacterial factors: This is pretty amazing because it is a protection from all the bacteria your body is exposed to. So your body will build the immunity and it will be transferred to your baby through your milk. This also happens the other way around: your baby will be exposed to harmful bacteria or viruses and will pass them to you by close contact, your body in return will produce antibodies and pass them back to your baby through breastmilk. Pretty cool huh????
2- Hormones: these will help your baby relax and better respond to stress (as will you). It will make him sleep better and also aid in the development of your baby’s immune system.
3- Enzymes: these will compensate for the immaturity of pancreas of your newborn and aid in digestion
4- Growth factors: helps your baby’s organs to mature, brain development and protects their gastrointestinal tract (gut)
5- Anti parasitic, anti viral and anti allergenic factors: breastfed babies have fewer allergies, asthma, ear infections, stomach aches and are less likely to be obese. Pretty much they are healthier and get sick less often.
If all of that wasn't enough, there are also some other benefits that are helpful to moms all around the world:
6- Mom jumps back to pre-pregnancy weight faster
7- Uterus goes back to normal size also a lot faster because as you breastfeed a hormone is released and your uterus contracts. (this can hurt in some people as it did with me, but after child birth, Ibuprofen will do wonders for this kind of pain)
8- Moms recover faster from child birth
9- If the child is jaundice, the colostrum- an antibody-rich, yellow-ish liquid produced as soon as your baby is born- has a laxative property, which will help your baby “poop” more thus getting rid of the jaundice faster (when the newborn defecates they get rid of the excess bilirubin which is accumulated in their body from their immature pancreas)
10- Your breasts do not become saggy from breastfeeding, and if they do, it is because of hormones produced during pregnancy and not because of breastfeeding (I bet a lot of you didn’t know that but have heard stories about breastfeeding makes your breasts sag!!!!! Another plus for breastfeeding: YAY!!!!!)
11- The price of formula is outrageous. They can go from simple formulas to sensitive ones depending on how your baby responds to them. It can range from $25-45 dollars a can. Where on average a baby goes through a can a week. If you do the math that’s about $1700 dollars a year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that women breastfeed their babies exclusively until they are 6 months old, with an addition of solids from that point on. Breastfeeding is still encouraged until they are one. (After that it’s up to you whether of not you like breastfeeding enough to keep it going, but the absolute health benefits they NEED go until they are one.
Also, I want to add that your child will still benefit from the immunity provided through breastfeeding even after they are 1 too, so if you choose to keep going, NEVER feel bad and know that they are extra protected.
Now I do have a DISCLAIMER. This post is not intended to offend or to make anyone who was not able to breastfeed feel bad. If there’s one thing that I learned from working with women at WIC is that we are all different and our bodies respond to situations in life different ways. I have seen people that try their absolute hardest to breastfeed their baby, do everything we tell them and more and do not succeed. Did they fail?? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I have also seen people that after feeding their baby still pump 6 ounces of milk from each breast (did I mention after the feeding??? Yeap!! it’s a ridiculous amount of milk, it’s what we call an oversupply) and stop breastfeeding because it’s just too much for them. Did they fail? Well….NO!! One day of breastfeeding is better than none right??
Formula is still the next best option if breastfeeding does now work for you. Do not feed your baby cow’s milk, goat’s milk, soy milk or any of that when they are newborns up until they are one. Also don’t dilute formula if you are running out of it, it can cause serious problems to your baby by giving them a mineral imbalance. ALWAYS follow the instructions of the formula manufacturer. ALWAYS!
Also don’t feel bad if for some reason you have had to supplement your baby with formula because you didn’t have enough milk. If you are following your lactation consultant’s advices and it’s still not working, the most important thing is that your baby grows and develops how he/she is supposed to. First and foremost they need nourishment, after that we can work on whatever else you are facing. The general rule is the more you empty your breast the more milk you will produce. Again: the general rule. In rare cases it does not go that way (REPEAT: rare cases).
I have a lot of stories I would love to share, but first I want to hear your questions or anything in specific that came to your mind during this post. Please keep them coming. I will base my next post on your questions.
Cheers to all the mommies out there that try so hard and give their very best to their little ones. The world needs more people like YOU!