Breastfeeding is a big decision and commitment. I exclusively breastfed my first two children. I nursed my daughter until she was 15 months and I was about 5 months pregnant with my second. I nursed my second until he was 15 months and I was 2 months pregnant. My third I breastfed exclusively until he was 9 months, then I had major ankle reconstruction surgery and ran out of frozen breast milk fast! I unexpectedly had to take medication for nerve pain and so ended up pumping for a month and when I tried to nurse him again he wasn’t interested. It broke my mama heart. I wasn’t emotionally ready to stop nursing him.

I’m not claiming to be an expert on breastfeeding and I recognize that it is a very personal decision and influenced by many factors. If you’re on the fence about it here are my secrets to why I breastfed-
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1. Attachment with Baby

As a brand spankin’ new mom I was skeptical and overwhelmed when the lactation consultant latched my daughter on moments after birth! I knew that I wanted to breastfeed but once it was really happening I did not know what to think?! It was not “natural” or “comfortable” and it took WEEKS until it finally did! I was having dreams that my nipples had been torn off. That’s how bad it was. However, from the beginning it created a bond. This is not just me talking- psychologically speaking there are many things that happen when you breastfeed!

Physical Closeness {as in Skin-to-Skin} –

your baby is used to being with you at all times, they have been listening to your breathing and heartbeat constantly for close to 10 months! They need the reassurance that you are still there. As you wrap them in your arms they are realizing that they can TRUST YOU, that they are important to you and that you will protect them.

Looking into Each Others Eyes-

When you look into your babies eyes you are communicating with them that they are loved and protected. You are creating your relationship with them.  They are realizing that you are there to support them, that you are something/someone that they can count on as they adjust to this new, loud, bright world.

Providing them Nutrients from Your Body-

You have been providing your baby nourishment from your body for the past 9-10 months. Continuing to do so provides a sense continuity from pre-to post birth for your baby.

Emotional Bond-

Did you know when you nurse your body releases mothering hormones?! This mothering is as important as the nutrients you are providing. When I learned this I immediately realized how true it is! When I nurse my baby I am taking time- letting the rest of the world around me go and focusing solely on this little human. It is common even after I’ve been nursing the same baby for 13-15 months to have the urge to pull them in tight and kiss their squishy cheeks, to sing them a lullaby, or tell them how very much their mommy loves them. I would not trade these moments of heaven for anything. It is what helps me get through the sleepless nights and days that seem too long.
One of my favorite things is nursing my baby to sleep. I feel like I get a little bit of all these benefits as I watch them fall into a blissful milk induced coma 🙂

2. Strengthens Babies Immune System + Other Health Benefits

Lets be honest who actually “likes” taking their baby to the Dr? (cricket… cricket…) I think that is something we can all agree on! Have my kids been 100% healthy heavens no! We have defiantly spent a small fortune in Co-Pays.
There are lots of health benefits that studies have shown:

Less ear infections,

mostly because of the antibodies your breast milk provides they are not sick as often. They also create a strong suction pressure as they nurse using the rhythm suck, swallow, breath pattern which helps to keep the Eustachian tube in the inner ear aerated.

 

Fewer digestive problems-

breast milk contains an enzyme that aids in the digestion process so the baby has less gas and constipation. It is more quickly absorbed into their digestive tract. Formula is designed after cows milk which curds become hard in the stomach and are harder to digest. Basically, that is why formula fed babies are full longer- they have this rock sitting in their stomachs, this cases reflex, bloating and discomfort for the little ones.

 

Lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

 

Lower chance of obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol later in life.

This may be hard to believe but from my experience my baby gets the sickest when I am healthy. Yes, it seems sick and twisted but until I get sick my body is not giving the antibodies that my baby needs to fight off whatever germs we have going around our home.
 breastfeeding

3. Cognitive Development of Baby

The latest study was done in New Zealand, it showed that Formula Feeding is associated with lower I.Q. An 18 year longitudinal study “over 1,000 children found that those who were breastfed as infants had both better intelligence and greater academic achievement the children who were formula fed.”
This is just one study- I looked through nearly a dozen studies similar to this which without exception concluded that breast-feeding was associated with significantly higher scores for cognitive development then was formula feeding.
This does not mean that you will have a dumb child if they are not breastfed, again circumstances for some people makes it nearly impossible to breastfeed. However, given the research and data I will take my chances with breast-feeding, who wouldn’t want to give their child an I.Q. boost if they could?!
You may be asking “WHY”??? Well from my experience ( I have given a few bottles to babies before) when you are bottle feeding your hands are full. You are holding a bottle up for them, they are looking straight up, and most the time I am checking to see how many oz they have left…
When I am breastfeeding I have one free hand to rub my baby on their feed hands or back, I can stroke their hair and snuggle them in close. Because of the position of breastfeeding we are making eye contact and engage with each other. I’m not worried about “how much they’ve had” or “how much longer”. Because frankly I just nurse them until they are done. It may be 10 minutes it may be 30. During each feeding they are learning from my facial expressions, and the stimulation from my free hand caressing them is helping them learn about their own body.

4. Perfect Nutrition for Baby

I’ve gone over this a little bit in number 2 but here are a few more facts.
  • Breastmilk contains all the essential nutrients, antibodies and other factors that infants need from birth for growth and development, there is NO WAY to replace that!
  • Did you know there are different types of breastmilk? Your breastmilk is constantly changing! Even during a single feeding it varies to meet the infant’s individual nutrition and fluid requirements. It changes based on the time of day!
  • The fat content or (cream) changes based on your babies needs and age as well!
  • There are also important non-nutritional components included like antimicrobial factors, digestive enzymes, hormones and growth factors that they need exclusively for 6 month and through the first 2 years.

Newborn Breastfed

5. Health Benefits for Me

Now my health is not as important to me as my little one but breastfeeding does have some amazing benefits for the mother!
  • Recovering from child birth happens way quicker! Here is why- the hormone oxytocin is released during breastfeeding. It makes the uterus contract (feels like horrible menstral cramps) and return to its regular size more quickly. This helps to reduce postpartum bleeding.
  • Studies show that women who breastfeed have a lower percentage of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.
  • Other studies have shown that just like your baby you have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
  • It makes the night feedings so much easier! Rather then having to get up and prepare a bottle you can you lay there and nurse your baby. We co-sleep so I NEVER get out of bed at night.
  • I think I would go insane if I had one more thing to worry about with a new baby. If I had to constantly be thinking about bottles and formula and washing them all it might be my tipping point.
I feel so fulfilled knowing that I am giving my baby the best there is. It creates a special bond between us. I once had someone tell me that, “My baby had me in chains and I was tied to them.” They were apolled and made me feel foolish. It really made me think, I decided that I WANT to spend every second that I can with my children. I WANT them to depend on me and NEED me! It is going to go so quickly, before I know it I will be an old lady sitting alone in my rocking chair. When that time comes, I want to look back at my mothering experience, at all the beautiful memories and close times we spent together, rather then regretting and wishing that I had done more.
Those are the secrets of why I breastfeed.
graceann mom
xoxo Graceann
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