“The pregnant teenager is a species almost completely extinct.”: A phrase coined almost too often, yet what’s even rarer is its breastfeeding counterpart. At the age of sixteen, I had become a mother, already aware of my body’s amazing ability to do what many others could only imagine- to create and nourish a human life. However, when it came down to my daughter’s menu choices, I single handedly chose what came naturally to me (HAHA, get it?)- to breastfeed. Being an adolescent, it was certainly difficult finding the time and energy to do so while juggling the demands of my high school education. I often found myself working into the early morning hours of 3 A.M. at my computer while my daughter caught some of my much needed ZZZ’s. At 2 ½ months, I had finally met my match and decided to quit. For quite some time, I kicked myself (why had I given up such a beautiful and natural gift?). Despite this setback in our breastfeeding journey, I was constantly reminded of the advantages I had given to both my daughter and myself during those short few months. In writing this article, I hope to achieve my goal of encouraging another mother to do as I have done: Allow any thought of shame or embarrassment to disintegrate and to offer their baby only the best, provided they can do so. Here are just a handful of the reasons why the breast is always the best:
Speedier Recovery for Mom
Having a baby is, without a doubt, a challenging task. The uterus, which was once a pear shape, must evolve entirely until it resembles nothing less than a basketball. Furthermore, there must be an increase in the mother’s calorie intake to produce the baby’s placental lifeline as well as supply her infant with the vital nutrients needed for growth and development. Unknowingly, amniotic fluid and a surge in blood volume also make up this added weight. Following birth, the placenta is separated and expelled from the body, leaving behind exposed blood vessels which are squeezed by the uterus’s ongoing contractions. This results in heavy postpartum bleeding. Exclusively breastfeeding has been shown to diminish the time it takes your uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, which will in turn, slow this temporary bleed. It is also said to aid in weight loss, zapping a good 500 calories off each day. It’s definitely a win-win for you, mom!
Tons of mothers are able to breathe a sigh of relief over the ease and accessibility of breastfeeding. It requires no temperature testing, bottle washing, or rousing from your bed late at night. Even better, it’s always available, right at your fingertips (or should I say breast?). Best of all, it’s free! What’s more convenient than that? Well, how about the surplus of milk you produce, tailored to meet your baby’s changing needs? Based on a supply-demand system, you’ll never run out of food for your baby as long as you’re consistent with your breastfeeding sessions. And what if there comes a time when you can’t nurse your little one in person? No worries, you can always pump your milk and store it in your refrigerator or freezer; Now there’s something you can’t do with formula. Breastmilk can last four hours at room temperature, about a week in the fridge, and up to a year in a deep freezer!
Protection for Baby
One of the most beneficial components of breastfeeding is the immunity it grants your child. Research has revealed that breastfed infants have fewer colds and infections than their formula fed peers. Even if they do happen to become ill, a breastfed child is proven to have a quicker, less complicated recovery. Because each mother creates milk individually customized for her own baby, antibodies are distributed directly from her breasts! Even following a routine vaccination, a mother can continue breastfeeding, safely exposing her little one to unfamiliar diseases. Similarly, babies whose diet consists mainly of breastmilk have a reduced risk of passing away by the extremely common Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Despite the countless rewarding, physical aspects of feeding by breast, the emotional ones generated by the skin-to-skin contact breastfeeding permits are also utterly remarkable. Due to the fluctuating hormones and stresses brought on by pregnancy and motherhood, 10-20% of mothers’ experience postpartum depression succeeding the birth of their newborn. If left untreated, it can cause serious health concerns for both mother and child. Studies confirm a correlation between breastfeeding and a decrease in the likelihood that a mother develops depression. Additionally, it is said that this contact can promote intellectuality in the child, therefore expanding their IQ in the subsequent years.
These side effects will surely catch you off guard. For one, breastfed newborns have sweeter smelling bowel movements than those fed formula.
Furthermore, they are less likely to get constipation, nor diarrhea. And speaking of their rear ends, diaper rash is unlikely too.
Many of the breastfeeding pros are undeniably noticeable, however, what about those that are not so much so? Unintentionally, you are doing more good for your angel and yourself than immediately evident. For mothers, the act of feeding by breast offers a diminished possibility of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and breast, ovarian, or uterine cancers. For her infant, the probability that he or she develops cavities, asthma, or eczema later on in life is little to none. Likewise, breastfed babies will display lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and are less likely to become overweight in their teenage and adult lives.
With my son being born just a month and a half ago, I am determined now more than ever, to keep up with my breastfeeding plans; I have been successful thus far and hope to continue for many more months to come. Pediatricians, medical professionals, and health organizations have supported and encouraged me throughout my voyage and I could not be more grateful. I sincerely hope others can find their own inspirations as well, for breastfeeding is truly an art.