The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding: Baby

Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants. It gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses – such as diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. Breast milk is readily available and affordable, which helps to ensure that infants get adequate sustenance.

-World Health Organization

Health Benefits

  • A lower risk of developing intestinal disorders, such as Chrohns disease.
  • Decreased chance of developing both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Baby is automatically provided with the antibodies for illnesses that a mother is exposed to.
  • Colostrum(first milk) acts as a natural laxative and aids in the passing of meconium(a baby’s first poop).
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of developing cancer later in life.
  • The rate of SIDS(sudden infant death syndrome) is lower among breastfed babies.
  • The protein in human milk is more easily absorbed when compared to the protein in infant formula.
  • Breastfeeding decreases the risk of urinary tract infections.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer eye infections. When one does develop, a little breast milk in the eye often clears it up!
  • Breastfeeding lowers a baby’s risk of developing allergies(both food and environmental).
  • Breastfeeding assists with proper jaw development.
  • Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrheal infections.
  • The risk of being obese later in life is lowered significantly by being breastfed.
  • Sick babies/children will often nurse even when they will not eat or drink, this helps prevent dehydration.
  • Breastfed babies generally have healthier skin.
  • Breastfed babies are sick less, and therefor spend more time being healthy and happy!

Other Benefits

  • Breast milk is always ready and the right temperature. Baby can be fed as soon as they start showing signs they are hungry.
  • Children who were breastfed are shown to have higher I.Q. levels.
  • Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mom and baby.
  • Breastfeeding helps babies fall asleep more easily.
  • Breast milk contains endorphins. When combined with the comfort of nursing, this helps babies feel better faster when they get hurt or sad.
  • Breastfed babies often fall back to sleep more easily during the night; not waiting for a bottle often means not fully waking up and simply nursing back to sleep.
  • Breast milk tastes good!

The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding: Mom

This second post in my Many Benefits  of Breastfeeding Series will focus on the benefits of breastfeeding for the mother. Most people are aware that there are several benefits of breastfeeding for a child, but did you know that there are more than a few benefits for the mother as well? The following is a list of some of the benefits for mom:

  • Breastfeeding decreases the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Breastfeeding decreases the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding increasing bonding between you and your baby.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
  • Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnant size more quickly.
  • Breastfeeding burns calories and therefore helps with weight loss.
  • For diabetic mothers, breastfeeding decreases the amount of insulin a mother must take.
  • Breastfeeding is free!
  • Breastfeeding mothers save money, not only on formula but on doctors visits as well.
  • Breastfeeding releases special relaxation hormones that help moms fall asleep(and back to sleep) at night.
  • Breastfeeding moms get more sleep! Even if baby is waking up frequently, nursing does not involve getting up to prepare a bottle(during this time baby may wake up more fully then they would by simply nursing). Sleeping with baby close by helps everyone get even more sleep.
  • Diapers of babies who are breastfed are much less unpleasant to change.
  • Breastfeeding saves time and energy, no packing of supplies when heading out or making bottles when baby is hungry.
  • Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding lowers a mothers risk of anemia.
  • Breastfeeding decreases a mothers risk of osteoporosis.
  • Working breastfeeding parents miss less work due to fewer sick days for their child.
  • Breastfeeding acts as a natural contraceptive by delaying the return of fertility. An added bonus is the money saved on menstrual supplies.

I’ll Be Back – Leaving the Breastfeeding Baby

Maybe you just want to run to the grocery store and shop for 10 minutes by yourself; or maybe you would really like to meet a girlfriend for a movie. Either way, a lot more thought will now probably be put into what used to be a spur of the moment decision(before you became a mommy)!

Protect Breastfeeding – If at all possible, put off trips that are going to take longer than 20-30 minutes until the baby is several weeks old. It is recommended that breastfed babies nurse on demand, so longer trips could jeopardize the breastfeeding relationship if it is not well established. If you are feeling tired and touched out, here are a few suggestions for re-energizing your body and spirit.

Listen to Your Baby – Your baby will most likely let you know if they are okay with you being gone for an extended amount of time. If after running short errands a few times a week your baby is typically happily cooing on your partners chest when you get home, then they will probably be fine if you are gone a bit longer! Your baby will probably be most comfortable if they are spending time with someone that they know, trust, and have a strong attachment to.

Stay Close – If your baby is in the first months of life, sometimes it is easier to take a break while remaining relatively close to your baby. Our first evening out was dinner at the neighbors house where I was able to run across the street anytime my son needed to nurse.

Leave Enough Milk – This is a big one!  This site has some tips for determining how much milk your baby may need while you are gone. Packing milk in smaller quantities will ensure that no milk is wasted. Be sure that whoever your baby is staying with is familiar with common hunger cues and knows to feed whenever your little one shows signs of being hungry.

Have fun!

Bring Breastfeeding Back to Sesame Street!

The following is a press release that was copied by the Bring Breastfeeding Back website:

Bring Breastfeeding Back to Sesame Street (BBBSS) is a group of mothers who want to see Sesame Street bring breastfeeding back to their program. Breastfeeding mother and blogger, Lani Michelle of Boobie Time Blog, posted a call to action via Facebook that asked for mothers to help bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street. Fellow mom Jessica Williams joined in and started the Care2 petition,  together with a team of moms they have garnished over 30,000 signatures since January 2nd, and have received an outpouring of support and media attention, and it is creating a movement for social change. Time: Healthland reports a response from Executive Vice President of Sesame Workshop Sherrie Westin: “There has never been any edict to remove breast-feeding from the show,” says Westin. “We have included it and absolutely would include it again if it were a natural part of the storyline.”

BBBSS states that thirty years ago, nursing was regularly shown on the show, but has since been replaced with bottle feeding. In the 1990’s, Sesame Street updated videos including “You’re My Baby,” and replaced all portions that included breastfeeding with bottle feeding. Decades ago, Sesame Street aired several videos that included guest stars breastfeeding their babies. In a 1977 episode, guest star Buffy St. Marie is shown breast feeding while she explains to Big Bird that breastfeeding is a natural way of providing nourishment for her child.

 

BBBSS asks that Sesame Street include breastfeeding equally in their programming. The group believes that in order to ensure the health of future generations, children need to see breastfeeding as a natural way to feed a baby. This in turn will make for healthier children, and reduce the risk of breast cancer for many nursing mothers. BBBSS states that the United States has the lowest breastfeeding rates of all western cultures. According the the CDC, in 2011, 74.6% of women in the US attempted to breastfeed, and by age six months only 14.8% of mothers were exclusively breastfeeding.

 

BBBSS believes there is a lack of social support for breastfeeding mothers. Their goal is social normalcy for breastfeeding through inclusion in media and education. BBBSS believes that exposing young children to breastfeeding in every day situations will help teach them that breastfeeding is normal, and therefore help remove any stigmas associated with it. BBBSS concludes, “Sesame Street has the unique opportunity to take the lead in addressing this issue. Sesame Street has always been devoted to the portrayal of important issues in a positive, age appropriate manner, and BBBSS is confident breastfeeding will be shown the same care.”

 

Supporting the Breastfeeding Relationship

Breastfeeding activists know all about the many benefits that go along with breastfeeding. Those who are passionate about breastfeeding are often quick to share their knowledge, opinions, support, and advice…whether it is wanted or not. When talking to others(whether they are breastfeeding or not) often this unsolicited information that is intended as support can come across as rather judgmental. Support delivered in this manner is often not supportive or helpful at all. So what can we all do to provide real support to new mothers?
Listen without Judgement- All people have a hard time listening if they do not feel that they have been heard. Think back to being a new mother, what a new mom needs is someone to be there to listen without judging. After being able to talk through her emotions she will most likely feel more equipped to persevere through her current challenge!
Validate and Accept Her Reality – Being a new mom is hard and breastfeeding is hard. Accept and validate whatever the mother is feeling. If, for example, a new mom tells you that she is not making enough milk, do not jump to the conclusion that she has been receiving bad advice. Acknowledge how frustrated she must be and how hard it would be to not know if your baby is getting enough nourishment.
Empower Her – Help her to trust her gut and her instincts. When she asks you a question about breastfeeding, try asking her what she thinks. What does her gut tell her? Never underestimate a mothers instincts, it is tuning into them that is the hard part.
Offer Support and Information, not Advice – There is a big difference between “you should feed your baby more often” and “breastfeeding is a process of supply and demand and usually the more a mother feeds her baby, the more milk she will make”. One of these statements is a judgement and one offers evidence based information.
Most new moms in our country need so much more support then they are receiving, but what they don’t need is judgement and criticism. Were there people in your life that were extremely valuable to the success of your breastfeeding relationship? How did they support you?

DIY Nursing Clothes

During my preparation for motherhood and breastfeeding I frequently scoured second-hand shops hoping to get a good deal on nursing clothes. I was hoping to find a Planet Drugs coupon code, too, for mu hubby and I did. You can get a Planet Drugs discount, too. I think that I ended up with about four or five of the nursing tanks. I quickly realized that although they were nice to have, I often was just as comfortable in my regular tops. A few ideas for making everyday clothes into “nursing clothes”:

  • Layer – The easiest way to transform any outfit into nursing friendly attire is to wear stretchy layers. The bottom layer being a top that can easily be pulled down and the top one that is easy to pull up. Easy peasy!
  • Belly Bands – If you have a belly band lying around from your pregnancy(or that you have been using during the early days postpartum) it can make the perfect under layer to cover your belly while your shirt is lifted up for nursing.
  • Cotton Bras – If you would like a makeshift nursing bra, flexible bras that can be easily pulled down work great!
  • Sacrifice an old shirt – Although I have never done this myself, I have heard of many mothers taking scissors to an old tank top to cut out two holes for easy nursing. The tank top is then used as the bottom layer.

Have other ideas for do-it-yourself nursing attire? Comment to share your wisdom!

Favorite Breastfeeding Snacks!

And you thought you were hungry during pregnancy! Man, those early days(and months) of nursing I probably found myself feeling truly full only a handful of times. While struggling to keep up with life as a new mom, easy to grab nutritious snacks sure do come in handy! Here is a list of my top 5 favorite breastfeeding snacks:

  1. Raw Nuts – It doesn’t get much easier than grabbing a hand full of almonds or cashews whenever you are hungry.
  2. Smoothies – I would often make a smoothie in a large mason jar in the morning then enjoy small smoothies throughout the day. My favorite combo includes berries, banana, yogurt, and some juice. Throwing an avocado in there packs your smoothie full of healthy fats and it tastes great!
  3. Lara Bars – Lara bars are made with very few ingredients and contain no fillers! For instance, their cashew cookie bar is made with only dates and cashews; and they taste great. They are still a go to snack for me and my toddler.
  4. Whole Fruits and Veggies – I loved having fruit and veggies available that were easy to eat without much preparation – such as apples, bananas, pears, grapes, carrot sticks, or cucumber slices.
  5. Hard boiled Eggs – It is easy to miss out on protein when snacking all day and rarely having time to sit down for a full meal. Having hard boiled eggs prepared provides an easy and protein-dense snack.

So what were/are your favorite easy breastfeeding snacks?

Breastfeeding Resolutions in 2017

Happy new year everyone! Also, Happy anniversary for all of those who have followed the breastfeeding blog since it’s beginning(which happens to have been a year ago this past Wednesday)! This new year I have been thinking about some “attainable” resolutions that I would like to work towards. The resolution that I have chosen this year is simply

“To Be More Present”

I have always been someone who has difficulty slowing down and really enjoying the moment, I seem to always be looking ahead. This is something I am really going to work on this year. I started doing yoga last year and now that the little guy is two, I would like to make more time for my practice. We have even been doing a family calm yoga class on Friday mornings! My family and I will be moving across the country this coming spring and will be simplifying our lives a great deal so that we can get by with less and spend more time together as a family.

I am also pledging to focus on the same resolution when it comes to breastfeeding. Now that I have reached the two year mark with my son, the ball is pretty much in his court. He may decide that he wants to wean this year, or perhaps weaning is a little while away still. Either way, I am going to “be more present” by really tuning into this little guy who is growing so fast. I am going to remind myself to slow down and enjoy those few cuddle filled nursing times that we have each day. Because….. before I know it, our breastfeeding relationship will be over and I know I will miss it oh so much.

Skin Crawling and Nipple Fiddling

A breastfeeding relationship involves two people. In order for the relationship to remain a happy one it is important to address any underlying resentments or negative feelings that you might have. For me, negative feelings arise whenever my son decides that he has to twiddle, play with, pat, or otherwise touch my other nipple while he is nursing.

I can’t explain why this particular behavior bothers me so much, but it does. After hearing from others it seems that I am not alone. I will admit that this is something that has bothered me since almost the beginning of our nursing relationship, and it is something that I have always tried to head off. After two years(even after always being redirected when he reaches for my other nipple) he still tries almost every time he is nursing! After researching and speaking with other moms about this common behavior, I have compiled this list of suggestions for the mom who deals with this as well. Try one or a few of these options to see if it works with your child:

  • Redirect their hand to your belly or arm(or somewhere you don’t mind being touched or fiddled with) every single time they reach for your nipple.
  • Nurse from the opposite side during the night. In other words, offer your child the furthest breast so that you are lying on your other nipple. DO NOT do this if you are prone to plugged ducts or mastitis!
  • Limit access through clothing. This works for some but my son just finds his way(and even if he didn’t it seems to still bother me over top of clothing as well).
  • Provide a stuffed animal to play with and fiddle instead.
  • Holding or play with little hands while nursing.
  • Explain calmly and gently that it bothers you. Ex “I don’t like being touched there, you can rub my arm(hold this stuffed animal, hold my hand, etc..) instead”. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat….

So, I offer to you these suggestions to try as they seem to work for many moms. So…what gets under your skin?

Breastfeeding a Toddler

As my sons second birthday quickly approaches I can’t help but wonder how long our nursing relationship might continue. Two was always the end point that I had in my mind. After all, two seems so old when you are holding a brand new baby.  But now that we are here, it makes my heart ache to consider weaning him at this point. And so, we will keep going until one of us doesn’t want to anymore.

Nursing a toddler is a whole different ball game than nursing an infant; a game which I am really enjoying.  A few of my favorite things about nursing a toddler:

  • Flexibility – Unlike his nurse on demand counterpart that existed only one year ago, my toddler nursling is a little more flexible. If I am not feeling like breastfeeding at any particular moment, he is usually happy with a snack or a distraction. Phrases such as “when we get home” or “in a little bit” are starting to be understood.
  • A Chance to Reconnect – The world is an amazing place for a toddler, with endless avenues to explore. There are some days where I feel that I am constantly playing defense so that he has the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment. Breastfeeding provides us with little breaks in the day to stop, relax, and reconnect with each other.
  • Bedtime Cuddles – Nothing soothes a child into a deep sleep quite like breastfeeding. If I were to wean my son, it would simply be one less tool that I would be able to use to help my son fall asleep and unwind after a long day of exploring.
  • Healing Powers – Learning to run, jump, and climb brings with it a lot of falls, bumps, and bruises. I have found nothing that works as quickly or as effortlessly, to dry those tears, as breastfeeding.
  • Fighting Sickness – Breastfeeding continues to boost my child’s immune system for as long as it is continued. If I come down with a cold, my son will receive antibodies via my breastmilk. Breastfeeding also helps prevent dehydration in a sick child, for many children who will not drink water will still nurse.

What are your favorite things about nursing a toddler?