04 August 2011

The BREAST: to feed or not to feed?

by Pablo Picasso
Let's talk boobies.  I've been intrigued by everyone's comments throughout pregnancy when it comes to the question, "Are you planning to breastfeed?" << I've long-since learned to keep my face neutral- as much as I'm able- and listen with open eyes, ears, and mind >>

There are extreme opinions on the matter, of course, but for the most part folks here in the southeast (and many of my friends who live all over) are proponents of The Boob.  I've heard stories of women who breastfeed in public and are subsequently judged harshly by receiving unwarranted "looks," unsolicited comments, or unfriendly snap judgments.  I've read articles and stories about women being denied services in public b/c of breast exposure all in the name of feeding their baby.

To be clear, YES, I plan to breastfeed.  Let me share a few reasons why.

With a spare diaper, baby and I can go ANYWHERE. Anytime.

What better, sweeter way to spend quality time with baby? 

  • Skin to skin contact
  • Eye contact 
  • The act of giving and receiving

Health (mommy)
I understand that breastfeeding can prevent some types of cancer later in life.  I also understand that breastfeeding is a great way to jump start a woman's return to her pre-pregnancy weight.

Health (baby)
In the amazing, miraculous way that women are made to grow babies, the miracle continues when the milk comes in.  Every woman's "breast milk cocktail" is nutrient-rich milk with *exactly* what baby needs, especially for their sweet little immune systems.

... prevents obesity...  On the news recently it was announced that the CDC has set up "The Baby- Friendly Hospital Initiative" after determining that most hospitals do not support breastfeeding << as an aside, in our breastfeeding class the instructor told us that the number one reason women have trouble and give up with breastfeeding is when the pediatrician suggests too quickly that baby isn't "growing fast enough" or isn't "getting enough to eat" >>.  Here's an excerpt from the CDC website, with the link to the page here.
Childhood obesity is an epidemic. In the US, 1 preschooler in 5 is at least overweight, and half of these are obese. Breastfeeding helps protect against childhood obesity. A baby's risk of becoming an overweight child goes down with each month of breastfeeding. In the US, most babies start breastfeeding, but within the first week, half have already been given formula, and by 9 months, only 31% of babies are breastfeeding at all.
One thing I don't think is mentioned in the study (and that was shared with us by a lactation consultant) is that by breastfeeding, baby learns portion control. Think about it.  When baby's done with the boob, baby detaches.  When Mom and Dad spent $24 on a can of formula and make a bottle with it, by golly that baby is not going to waste any of the expensive formula.

I mentioned in the last post why I'm so excited about delivering our baby here, and I left out the part about their lactation support. It's amazing! They have a separate phone number to call to speak with a lactation consultant. They won't let you leave the clinic postpartum until they're sure you and baby have figured out "the latch." They even come to your home the day after birth to check on mommy and baby.  It's an extraordinarily supportive environment, and I'm so thankful to have landed there.

Oh, and for any of  you that feel all squirmy at the idea of actually *seeing* a baby feed from the boob, early on I ordered what's call an Udder Cover.  For real.  Couldn't have made up the name if I'd tried.

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