Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2013!
This is my bubs when he was still brand new, I can't find my breastfeeding pictures from when he was any older unfortunately. Boo. He's sitting next to me right now watching the ninth episode of Thomas tonight and asking me if this is his doll, Rella. No, it's you, Bug. I promise. No, I'm not lying. You really were that little!
Breastfeeding means a lot to me. It's so much more than just a method of feeding your baby! Breastfeeding is nature's best vaccination, it's giving your baby the best start in life. Breastfeeding is a bonding experience. It transfers antibodies and builds the immune system. It reduces the risk of breast cancer, allergies, and childhood obesity. It provides comfort, it provides a sense of security. It is custom made, tailored, if you will, to your baby. It still has significant health benefits after two years of age!
Breastfeeding has saved my sanity on multiple occasions. To begin with, it's free. I don't have to spend a cent to nurse my baby. It doesn't need to be warmed (unless pumped) because your breasts keep it at perfect eating temperature for your little bubs. There is no mixing or wondering if you got the formula to water ratio right. No foggy, sleep deprived brain wondering "Did I put one scoop? Or two? Is there enough or did I put too much?" In fact, if you bed-share, you don't even have to really get up at night to nurse your baby. It's called dream nursing. Basically all you have to do is roll over, pop out a boob, let baby latch and go back to sleep. Dream nursing has saved me plenty a sleepless night.
With breastfeeding there is no cycling through formulas to find what's right for your baby. You don't have to switch breastmilk because baby is spitting up (though you may have to alter your diet) and you don't have to be distressed over wasting a $20 can of formula because it doesn't agree with your little one's belly. There is no overwhelming selection of breastmilks to choose from, your breastmilk is made specifically for your baby and his or her needs at the time. If your baby is sick, her nursing will trigger your body to release antibodies through your breastmilk and boost their immune system! And you don't have to pay extra for hypoallergenic breastmilk. Even better! Breastmilk (aside from pumped milk) doesn't expire. It never gets recalled because a batch had shards of glass or some beetles found in it. It has naturally brain boosting qualities! Babies who are exclusively breastfed have been found to have higher IQs than formula fed babies!
Breastfeeding can be rough, however. Some babies have an issue latching because of a tongue tie, some babies just need to learn how to latch. Some women have supply issues. Some women find breastfeeding to be painful. Some women are told from the getgo that they can't nurse. While this is true for some women, that number is very low. With the help of an experienced lactation consultant, breastfeeding is possible for almost every woman. A proper latch should diminish most, if not all of the soreness associated with breastfeeding. There are also products available like Lanolin (which I personally don't like and don't find helpful), Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple Butter (which I can't wait to try and will definitely review for you in October!), Miracle Heal (made by my midwife and can be found here) or even simply expressed breastmilk, you rub a bit on your nipples, let them air dry and it begins to heal them naturally.
For supply issues it's best to start off with making sure you're drinking enough water in a day and taking in the proper amount of calories. If you're still having supply issues, there are plenty of ways to increase your supply! Most importantly, know that supplementing with formula will only harm your supply. You can pump and freeze breastmilk between feedings to trick your body into thinking your baby is nursing more, which in turn will help increase your supply. Fenugreek is good for increasing supply as well. More is the name of a tincture, also made by my midwife and found here. You can purchase Mother's Milk Tea made by Traditional Medicinals for less than $4 here. Lactation cookies are a great, tasty way to increase supply as well - you can make your own at home with this tasty recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies in less than 30 minutes! If all else fails you can also get donor milk if you don't want to use formula! :)
You can find a lactation consultant in your area here!