21/10/2006

Breast is best

Last night I found out that a heavily pregnant friend of mine is trying to decide whether to breastfeed. I was amazed. I've don't think I've ever met someone who wasn't planning to at least give breastfeeding a try. This all came up when I was feeding Asher to put him to sleep, so I gave her the Cliff Notes version of a breastfeeding class:

  • It will probably hurt, but only for the first 10-30 seconds after the baby latches. If it keeps hurting the baby isn't latched right. This can happen for up to 8 weeks.
  • De-latch the baby by sticking a clean pinky finger into the baby's mouth beside the nipple to break the seal.
  • Hold the baby in the opposite hand to the breast that you are feeding from, with the weight of the baby's head on your first and second finger and your thumb loose to help position the baby's head correctly.
  • Stroke your nipple from the baby's nose down to it's mouth, it'll open it's mouth wide.
  • You are aiming to have pretty much the whole of the nipple and aureole in the baby's mouth.
  • Most importantly, bring the baby to the breast, don't try and somehow take the breast to the baby (this sounds obvious but isn't always so easy or simple when you are in the thick of things).

My friend T was very worried because she had heard how painfull breastfeeding can be but hadn't thought of any of the benefits that I take for granted, she also doesn't know anyone who breastfed (except me) so hasn't seen breastfeeding happening or talked about how it can be with any successful breastfeeders. Not knowing what to expect makes her scared. Now, I'm all for choice but I strongly believe breast milk is best for babies and that mothers want the best for their babies. I also believe that despite hospitals with lactation consultants and helpful midwives we don't offer enough support for breastfeeding women, because it help to see it all happening and generally in our society we don't ever see someone else learning to breastfeed. Just like I find it hard to have patience for people who say they don't like something without trying it first I get frustrated when women don't try to breastfeed their baby because they think they won't like it, but I have nothing but sympathy for women who try to breastfeed and give up because of the difficulties many of them encounter. I definitely don't blame women who don't breastfeed after. Somehow I became a lactivist and didn't even realise!

So as I was going to sleep last night I decided to send her a list of benefits along with a lend of my copy of 'Breastfeeding Naturally' which is the ABA's complete guide to breastfeeding and maybe some breastfeeding supplies like Lanisoh, Breastfeeding Tea, nipple protectors and/or shells and breastpads (actually, this would be a great breastfeeding gift pack for any new mum!). I thought I would post my list of benefits here as well:
  • Breast is the healthy choice for babies. I’m not going to cite studies, because there are just too many of them and as far as I know there is nothing to suggest that formula is better for babies except in exceptional circumstances (such as the mother needing to be on certain medications or working closely with toxic chemicals).
  • Breast is the healthy choice for mothers. Apparently there is a lowered risk of breast cancer in women who have breastfed but again, I don’t have references.
  • Breast is cheaper than formula. That stuff is EXPENSIVE people!
  • Breast is always the right temperature and consistency, no measuring up.
  • Breast is hygienic (no washing and sterilizing bottles, finding boiled water, etc etc).
  • You always have your breasts with you! (Yes, I know this can be a disadvantage if you want to leave your baby for a bit. It’s kinda hard to leave your breasts as well!)
  • No preparation time, except for the time it takes to open your top
  • No cleaning up, except popping your breastpad back in your bra.
  • Less likely
  • Babies seem to really like it!
  • It changes in makeup depending what your baby needs.
  • It's pretty hard to overfeed a breastfed baby, and if you feed on demand it's pretty hard to underfeed them as well
  • If they do get sick they recover much quicker, because they are getting antibodies through the milk
  • If you breasfeed, there will be a moment when you look down to see your baby pulling off the breast and your milk spraying over his or her beloved little face and he or she will look directly through your eyes and into your heart and grin, and it will all be worth it (for a while at least).

What have I forgotten? I know some of these pros can be cons as well, but I want to focuss on the positives for my friend.

1 comment:

kacey said...

I've got some other benefits to add to the list.

1. The taste of breastmilk changes depending on the mother's diet. So even before your babe is getting solid food s/he is being exposed to all the flavors of your diet. Pretty cool.

2. This is along the lines of your less preparation time one...but middle of the night feedings/soothings are SO much easier when you can just roll over and pop your boob into the babe's mouth, rather than having to get up, turn some lights on, make a bottle, heat it up, then give to the baby that has by that point been screaming for awhile.

3. Isn't there some study that breastfed babies have a lower rate of childhood obesity, or something?