Top Reasons Breastfeeding is Awesome.
Milk is Bespoke
we see it how it changes across time, as a mother goes about her day and the changes in her life. the amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates, amount of water, the total volume. when a baby gets fussy, and changes their nursing patterns it changes the milk that is getting produced. when the mothers body detects that her baby is fighting an illness, her own immune system up regulates the production of antibodies and those go into milk to help fight bacteria, pathogens. there are also hormones that go from mother to baby that influence the babies development rm their Brin to behavior. Milk is a physiological conversation that communicates to the babies needs.
Nutrition shapes our lives. feeding is the biggest concern that most families have ewith their babies
Why is breastfeeding something to invest in?
Breast milk has nutritional excellency, builds the immune system, and promotes emotional/ relational development. I’ll also present some typical scenarios where investing in a lactation consultant can be significant in starting and maintaining breastfeeding.
Every human must eat. There is only one time when a human doesn’t have to eat, and that is when they are dead. Even in the womb, baby is eating. Babies drink the amniotic fluid and learn to suck. They are preparing for the next chapter in their lives when sucking and swallowing is the norm for getting the food they need.
What we eat matters. It matters hugely. Breast milk is the most wonderful, most nutritious living food ever created. Breastmilk is tailored for what we need. Every species makes milk for their own kind. The ingredients in the milk are specifically what those mammals need. Milk for baby polar bears has much more fat in it than milk for baby squirrels or humans because the polar bears need to develop the fatty blubber that keeps them warm in the sea and the north pole. Human milk is made for baby humans, with just the right proportions of fat, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, trace metals, growth factors, hormones, enzymes, antibodies, white blood cells, and more… that baby needs to grow and develop. Yes, formula companies have developed recipes (that is what “formula” means) that mimic breastmilk, but they cannot come even a close second to getting the vast number of, quality of, and proportions of ingredients in their recipe that breastmilk has. Scientists are still discovering more and more ingredients of breastmilk. So far, they have discovered more than 200, and the list is growing. They are also continuing to discover the roles that these ingredients have in a baby and in a mother. There are so many that impact us both in such significant ways that a man-made formula will never be able to compare. Additionally, as you breastfeed, the baby in a sense back-washes milk and saliva back into the nipple to tell the mother’s breast what ingredients need to vary to help the baby. If you have a preterm baby, the milk has more sodium in it because a preterm baby needs more sodium. If mom is sick, her body makes antibodies to fight the sickness, which then show up in the breast milk so that baby has immunities to fight against that specific sickness. I find that simply amazingly beautiful. Talk about tailor made!
In a nutshell, that is why you would want to breastfeed, and invest in a lactation consultant who can help you make it a great journey of giving the most wonderful food to your baby.
Let’s look into the immune system development. We live in a world of helpful and harmful invisible microorganisms. We need them to live, but we need to keep the good, bad and ugly ones somewhat balanced. The many parts of our immune system are what do that. A baby is born into the world with an immature immune system, so they have greater vulnerability to, and little ability to, manage this situation. They have lived protected from germs so far in the womb and need help to get immunologically strong in this world. The birth process begins building the immune system, but then…. Da-Ta! Enter Breast milk! Every swallow of colostrum, which is the first milk a mother’s breast makes, begins to coat the lining of the stomach and intestines. This coating is crucial in keeping microscopic organisms where they belong. This sets the stage for less inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body. Have you heard of a “leaky gut”? A simple explanation of a leaky gut is when the lining of the stomach and intestines let parts of food, microorganisms, and other cells, out of the stomach and intestines. They leak into the blood vessels and get into various parts of our bodies, and we get sick. If a baby has a chance to have the lining of their stomach and intestines strongly coated then the microorganisms stay where they are needed to do their jobs, and they don’t leak into the rest of the body. That means less sickness through their whole lives. Research has shown that breastfeeding, and the resulting immune system strength, lowers the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), childhood diabetes, childhood leukemia, ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, allergies, childhood obesity and inflammatory bowel diseases (like Chron’s disease). Breastfeeding is not a guarantee that your child won’t have these problems, but it decreases the risk greatly.
A few thoughts on emotional and relational development. Bonding is the code word that covers much of this ground, but not all of it. When you nurse your baby, you hold them at just the right distance to make eye contact with you. This helps their vision development, but also builds that unique baby to mother bond that is crucial to living well the rest of their lives. Because breastfed babies feed more frequently, this bonding happens over and over and over. Your breasts make food for each feeding. Their tummy gets hungry for each feeding. This is the start of the dependence-interdependence-independence dance that will continue for your entire lives. In the beginning it is the trust foundation of having needs met consistently. We must learn how to trust to be social creatures. As the baby gets older the relational interaction between mom and baby develops more variety. There is talking, singing, listening, playing, smiling, waiting, settling down, and relaxing that happens during various feedings through the day. The giving and receiving relationship involved with breastfeeding is something that continues long after breastmilk is the only food baby eats with increasing variations and variety. On another topic of relational/emotional development, research has shown that some of the ingredients of breast milk directly increase cognitive function. Babies who have been breastfed have higher scores on a variety of intelligence tests. Marianne Nyfert writes that, “The differences attributed to breastfeeding were distinct from other factors known to influence intelligence, such as education and socioeconomic status of the parents.” (pg 10) Emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence are equally important in life, and breastfeeding lays the foundation for both.
In a nutshell, I hope this added information influences you to want to breastfeed, and invest in a lactation consultant who can help you initiate and sustain breastfeeding, making it a great journey of giving the most wonderful food to your baby.
With the groundwork laid concerning the quality nutrition, immune system building and emotional/relational development that breastfeeding offers, lets turn our attention to some scenarios where having a lactation consultant can be a deal maker. When you are convinced that this milk is really what your baby needs, and what you need, you will know in your heart that investing in help when its needed is the right next step.
When baby is born, they are hard-wired to suck and swallow. They know that this is their next step. In a prefect world that is. Sometimes baby jumps on the breast and breastfeeding seamlessly takes off without a look back. Hallelujah! But you have to know that some babies are born and seem to not know what to do. Or there are starts and stops and you wonder if baby is breastfeeding well enough. This is why many moms say that breastfeeding is hard. Sometimes too hard. There are many reasons for this. Whether you can pinpoint the reason your baby isn’t kicking into feeding gear, or not, you might find yourself in a situation where feeding is not seamlessly wonderful.
Let’s take the first few days a step at a time. Let’s say that the baby worked just as hard as you did during labor and comes out exhausted. Baby will not have the energy to feed well and will be sleepy. What happens then? You need help. Baby needs help. Help will get needed nutrients into baby until he is ready and able to latch and feed effectively, and help will assist you get your colostrum out and encourage the mature milk to come in. You will need to know how to help your breasts release the colostrum/milk, and how to get it into baby effectively. I teach the basics of these skills in my Breastfeeding Basics Class. Beyond the basics though, and as baby gets older day by day, more refinement of the plan is needed. You need loving, consistent, careful and professional help so that you and baby can enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding beyond the sleepy stage.
A few hours to days after birth baby might become jaundiced. Jaundice is very common in Colorado between day 3-5 of life and is not a medical problem if it is caught early. Jaundice is a “traffic jam” of non-needed, broken-down red blood cell pieces called “bilirubin” that baby’s liver is not processing out of the body very fast, so they wait in the skin. Your baby’s skin can be tested (and there might be a heel prick to get a drop of blood to test also) to evaluate the level of bilirubin, and thus the jaundice. If it is too high, according to how old the baby is in hours, the doctor will order that your baby be on a “bili-light” or “bili-blanket” to help process the bilirubin out through the skin, and thus ease the traffic jam. If baby has more poops the bilirubin also gets out. If the traffic jam is not relieved the bilirubin can go to the brain, and then it is a medical problem.
Babies who are jaundiced often get very sleepy and might not feed well. Babies on bili-lights can be quite fussy. If they haven’t gotten enough milk they will not poop very much. If your baby is fussy when on the bili-light or blanket, or if baby isn’t meeting the daily poop goals, work towards getting baby more milk. Try to breastfeed every 3 hours for about 10 min, then hand express or pump and give 10-20ml of your colostrum/ milk or donor human milk. The increased milk the baby drinks will help the bilirubin get pooped out, plus the baby will rest more quietly on the bili-lights. Sometimes breastfeeding can start right back up without a hitch after jaundice treatment. Sometimes there are difficulties restarting breastfeeding though. Call for an in-home lactation consult to help it get going better again if baby remains sleepy during feeds or isn’t meeting the daily pooping goals.
Another issue in the beginning of breastfeeding can be sore nipples. I think the comment, “I stopped breastfeeding because it hurt too much” is universal. But it doesn’t have to be! There are so many reasons why your nipples can hurt with breastfeeding, and nearly every single reason has a solution. But unless you want to become a lactation consultant (let me know if you do, I have a mentoring program), and learn all these reasons and solutions, you simply need to get help. Help to make it better for both you and baby. Baby likely knows there is something off and is likely trying her hardest to do her part of the job…. And in the meantime, you are cracking, scabbing, dreading feeds, curling your toes, crying, and wondering why every single part of this baby business has to hurt! My dear, there are many things to change this scenario! Get some hydrogels, silverettes, or organic nipple cream, and call for an RN, BSN, IBCLC to come to your home and get things changing for the better!
Moving on in the days of life, your mature milk begins to come in between day 2-5. This can be a non-issue, or a day stopper! Engorgement is the term for what happens to your breasts when you go from being a C cup to a cantaloupe, and just as hard. Your breasts will feel swollen, painful, and might have hard thick areas (that can be the size of golf balls). Your nipple might become difficult for the baby to grasp. He might damage your nipple when he tries to latch and feed because the shape is different than before. One thing to rejoice in is that engorgement is a temporary situation. The balance between milk-making and milk-leaving has to be reestablished, and the extra swelling in your breasts has to be removed. Prevent engorgement by frequent feeds with breast prep and hand expression. To resolve engorgement try these 4 steps: A. Hot pack for 5-15 before nursing. B. Massage and hand express your breasts until your areola is soft and the nipple stands out like it did before your milk “came in”. This will take a bit of time. C. Latch the baby deeply and squeeze your breasts gently during the feeding to increase the milk transfer. D. Cold pack your breasts after the feeding for 15-20 min. This will help the extra swelling in the breasts to decrease. Doing these steps will take some time with each feeding, but if you take the steps, the engorgement will resolve more quickly. If engorgement is not resolving, you can’t get your baby to latch, or if baby injures your nipple, pump and have an in-home lactation consult. This is another one of those times when you need help.
The final topic for today’s blog is difficulty latching. You might experience this any time during the first week of baby’s life. Sometimes flat or inverted nipples, dense breast tissue, asymmetric breast shapes and other variations in breast anatomy can add challenges to breastfeeding, and sometimes they don’t. If you feel that you might have some of these variations, ask an RN, BSN, IBCLC to help you as soon as you can. Doing lots of kangaroo, breast prep and hand expression will certainly help. But there are other tools that a lactation consultant can also help you learn to use after she has assessed the situation. It would be wise to have in-home lactation help, because anatomical variations can continue to vary and impact breastfeeding after your milk comes in.
In a nutshell, these are reasons why you might want to breastfeed, and invest in a lactation consultant who can help you make it a great journey of giving the most wonderful food to your baby.
Don’t walk out on breastfeeding. Have help walk in. THANK YOU for spending time with me today. I look forward to meeting you and helping you with whatever part of breastfeeding you need help with.
Written by Mary, an RN, BSN, IBCLC lactation consultant in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mary, with over 30 years of experience as a practicing nurse with moms and babies. She, has exclusively worked in lactation since 2007 and has been in business for herself since 2017. Mary, who wants to give you some insight into why and when you would want to invest in a personal lactation consultant. Mary, who is pro-motherhood and pro-breastfeeding and pro-blending the two together. Nothing in life is always easy, so mothering and breastfeeding aren’t going to be easy all the time either. Everything worth having in a beautiful life is worth working hard for and investing in. I’m here to help you to persevere in the hard times, in the easy times, and in everything in between, in the journey of breastfeeding and motherhood.
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