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BREAST MILK IS A FREE AND HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE FOR YOUR BABY
There is no doubt that breast milk is the best thing a mama can feed her baby with. It provides the newborn with all the nutrients that are necessary for his healthy growth and development in the first months of life.
According to the results of numerous scientific researches and the opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO), mother’s milk helps the baby to build a strong immune system. Breast milk also known to protect the child from infections and chronic diseases.
WHO confirms that breastfeeding can reduce the death rate in newborns from the most common infant’s infectious diseases (like the common colds, eyes & ear infections, sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, and infections of the bowels).
For all its usefulness, there’s another quite solid pref (especially to your wallet) – breast milk is free of charge – a mom does not need to constantly spend money for buying formulas to provide her child with a better and healthier diet. One more added benefit to opting for breastfeeding is this (and it’s about money saving again): you do not have to buy any additional devices to prepare your milk for feeding, it’s already has the right mixture and the suitable temperature. Isn’t that amazing?
As you can see, not only is breastfeeding full of health benefits, it’s also quite a frugal choice every mom could make!
On top of all, breastfeeding helps to form a special bonding between a mother and her baby. Emotional contact is established between them, and the child feels calm and protected.
MANUAL MILK EXPRESSION IS NOT ALWAYS EFFECTIVE
It is considered that manual expression of breast milk is much more efficient than pumping using a special device.
Do I agree to this statement?
Yes and No.
Arguments for using your hands to express breast milk:
- Manual milk expression is great in the first days of breastfeeding because it helps to prepare your breast and your milk ducts to work properly and may prevent from developing a clogged milk duct and/or mastitis.
- If you have a clogged duct, you can easily access it with your hands, break it down and help this milk to come out. It is close to impossible when you use a breast pump to get rid of the clog.
Arguments against manual breast milk expression:
- You can’t pump a lot of milk with your hands (usually, all you got is several drops)
- It may take long (like REALLY long) time
- If you don’t know the right technique, you can hurt your breast
You might have a question, why do you even need to express breast milk? And that would be a good question!
Some women never pump (or use manual expression) and manage to exclusively breastfeed. But that does mean never leaving your baby for more than a couple hours, so it can get tricky.
When pumping is necessary?
- When you have low milk supply and you need to increase milk production
- When you have a clogged duct and you need to get rid of it (in this case, breastfeeding on demand, like every 30 mins help tremendously! But if your baby is feeding on schedule, you can’t get away without pumping).
- If you want to build a stash of breast milk (when you have to leave your baby for some time, if you have a business trip, surgery or traveling plans)
- If you need to leave the baby for more than 2-3 hours (say, you want to go to a movie, or have a lunch with your hubby leaving the baby at home)
- If you get back to work and want to save your milk supply
- When you start weaning, you might need to pump for a couple of days especially if the weaning is abrupt
So, as you can see, there are not so many situations when pumping is critical. And it’s up to you to decide what method suits you best.
However, studies confirm that pumping with modern breast pumps can be no less effective and even more physiological than manual expression, as it reproduces the natural mechanism of baby suckling the breast.
Modern devices, for example like Philips Avent, simulate two phases of baby’s suckling:
- correct latching, which stimulates the letdown, and then
- the actual sucking process
This makes pumping milk with breast pump as close to natural breastfeeding as possible and it does not hurt your breast.
On top of that, breast pump is more convenient and effective when it comes to creating a stash of breast milk – an individual milk bank.
BREASTFEEDING WILL NOT MAKE YOU GIVE UP YOUR SOCIAL LIFE
Here’s the thing, when you exclusively breastfeed (especially if you do it on demand), you may feel that you’re losing your social life, because this kind of breastfeeding is a 24/7 job without weekends and vacations. Yes, EBF is hard and takes some serious commitment from your side. Not every mama can handle this abrupt change in her lifestyle and social life.
That’s why many mothers nowadays refuse to breastfeed because they believe they can no longer lead an active lifestyle. However, this is far from being true. Modern accessories for breastfeeding are made so smart right now that they can help you stick to EBF while staying mobile and active under any circumstances.
Modern solutions for breastfeeding make it easy to create a “home” milk bank. You pump lots of breast milk, pour it into a special containers or bags, and then make up a stash from it in the freezer. Just keep in mind that breast milk remains fresh and retains all its useful properties for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator and up to 3-6 months in the freezer.
And, let’s be honest, you don’t have to give up your social life while breastfeeding. You can always meet with your friends and go for a walk or have a cup of coffee in the cafe having your baby around. You have every right to breastfeed in public. If you’re feeling shy about it, here’s help: 13 Tips For Comfortable Breastfeeding In Public.
BOTTLE FEEDING DOESN’T COMPROMISE BREASTFEEDING
A mom is often afraid that the baby will give up on breastfeeding, if she offers him a bottle even that one time. However, studies prove that if the mother organizes breastfeeding process correctly, short-term feedings from the bottle will not change the baby’s habits to nurse on the breast. It doesn’t mean that you can bottle-feed on a regular basis (this will very quickly compromise breastfeeding). Try to stick to exclusive breastfeeding and opt for a bottle in case of emergency, for example if you have special medical indications or if you need to leave for a short period of time.
In this case, it is also important to choose the right bottle, like the ones from Avent Natural series: their wide nipples recreate the shape of the female breast, thus you will spare your baby from having nipple confusion later on.
NIGHT FEEDINGS ARE EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL
Prolactin, the milk producing hormone is at its peak during the early morning hours (2-6 a.m.), so breastfeeding within these hours will ensure the sufficient milk supply in the day time.
Benefits of nighttime feedings:
- you still burn calories! (yay)
- you save yourself form low milk supply issues
- breast milk soothes the baby at night and helps him get back to sleep faster
- breast milk has more fat content during the night and more hormones, which is extremely beneficial for the baby’s brain development
- your baby will sleep better, because breast milk contains more tryptophan, an amino acid used by the body to make melatonin that helps you sleep soundly
- you get more sleep too (especially, if you’re co-sleeping with baby), because you don’t have to wake up and make formula to feed the baby
- no problems with lack of supply, because the more times a mother empties her breasts, the more milk she will produce and maintain her supply after it’s established.
PACIFIERS CAN BE USED REGULARLY
There is a widespread opinion that it is often harmful to give a pacifier to a baby. However, doctors say that during the first few months of the newborn’s life, you can and even need to offer a pacifier to your baby.
When your lactation is just establishing (during first 8-12 weeks), you should breastfeed on demand to ensure good milk supply (simply on an every baby’s cry). However, the baby’s fussiness is not always associated with a feeling of hunger.
Therefore, if the baby’s asking for the breast very often or does not seem to calm down even after the feeding session, you can try using a pacifier in between the feeding sessions to sooth the baby’s fussiness. Just make sure to recognize your baby’s needs for hunger.
EXTENDED BREASTFEEDING IS SUPER USEFUL
Surprisingly, many mommas believe that breastfeeding is necessary only during the first year of life, like when you baby turns 1.1 years old the milk suddenly becomes “empty” and does not do any good. No, seriously?
Pediatricians here give different advice: some offer to breastfeed up to a year, others – to a year and a half and even longer. However, there is a specific WHO recommendation – to breastfeed a baby up to two years old.
The European Society of Pediatricians believes that the duration of breastfeeding is determined strictly individually, and that each mother-baby pair should determine this themselves. However, it is important to know that breast milk retains all its useful properties and remains a good source of valuable nutrients throughout the whole period of breastfeeding (whether it’s one year or three years).
I would just add a word here. As for me, breastfeeding is a special mother-baby bonding process. It’s not only about food, it’s about relationships and connection. The power of love and will of a mother. Having said that, I was, nevertheless, determined to breastfeed for a year…at first! But then I got carried away by the process and this special time of breastfeeding and the power of comfort it gave to my baby, and his love for nursing… and I just felt I wasn’t quite ready to wean, partly because I was kinda scared of the weaning as well. So I breastfed for 1.7 years and the weaning, thankfully, was soft and harmless.
I’m just saying this because you may set limits for breastfeeding even before the baby is born but it won’t necessarily be as you have planned. Say, you wanted to breastfeed for half a year, but you ended up nursing for two years, just because you loved it so much. There are also situations when things go the other way around (yes, this other thing can happen too and there’s nothing to be ashamed of!)
What you don’t have to worry about is that breast milk becomes useless in the second year of breastfeeding because this is far from being true.
Quick Facts In Favor Of Extended Breastfeeding
In the second year of baby’s life (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
Breastfeeding toddlers between the ages of one and three have been found to have fewer illnesses and lower mortality rates.
Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation, their content is even higher during the second year of lactation.
Breast milk contains significantly higher concentrations of lactoferrin, lysozyme and Immunoglobulin A in the second year of breastfeeding.
Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest.
A couple of studies have shown a positive relationship between longer breastfeeding duration and social development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child… Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother… There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer.”