So this blog has been a long time coming…This is going to be an entire series as there is a lot that goes into breastfeeding…as simple as it seems…and I want you to be completely informed. I will try to keep it as short and sweet as possible…I’m starting this very late as my LO is just over 24 months old…that being said, it has been a very interesting adventure, so here we go.
During my entire pregnancy I knew that I was going to breastfeed for at least the first year. It only makes sense…our bodies are designed very ingeniously, as I’m sure you are well aware…especially if you have ever grown or are currently growing a miniature human inside of you. Since my body makes milk for a baby human, why would I ever steal another mama’s milk unless it was the only way for my child to survive…Survival is why you often times see dogs, cats, pigs and other animals being nurtured by another species…its only out of necessity…not because it is natural. That is what we are trying to get back to…the way our bodies naturally & optimally function.
Let me give you a disclaimer before I get too deep into my opinions on the subject…
I am not judging you…if you have tried to feed your child and they couldn’t latch or if you couldn’t produce milk (although there are great ways to increase milk flow…another blog in the making.). I’m not even judging you if you went straight to formula without even trying to breastfeed. It is only my place to inform…all I am trying to do is make sure that as many mamas are informed as possible and make the right decision for themselves and their lil ones…since the benefits to you both will be vast and I really believe this is a way to heal the species…by FEEDING our BABIES & BODIES…RIGHT from the START!!…
So How Does It All Work??
So you have this baby that you created and now it is here, waiting for food…love and diaper changes too but mostly food. Well just like every other function of your body, hormones play a big role in ensuring your milk production. Prompted by the hormone prolactin, the alveoli take proteins, sugars, and fat from your blood supply and make breast milk. A network of cells surrounding the alveoli squeeze the glands and push the colostrum and then milk out into the ductules, which lead to a bigger duct.
Your baby stimulates nerve endings by suckling at your breast. This causes the hormone oxytocin to be released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin then makes the muscles around the milk-making (glandular) tissue in your breasts contract, pushing the milk into the milk ducts, and out through the nipple openings in your nipple.. This causes the hormone oxytocin to be released into your bloodstream. Oxytocin then makes the muscles around the milk-making (glandular) tissue in your breasts contract, pushing the milk into the milk ducts, and out through the nipple openings in your nipple. The oxytocin also helps mom to be calm and relaxed through the feeding process.
Colostrum…at the very least…
Colostrum is the perfect nutrition tailored to the needs of your newborn. Your breasts produce colostrum during pregnancy (if you noticed any leaking…it was colostrum) and continuing for about 2-4 days after birth. It is yellow to orange in color and thick and sticky. Colostrum is extremely easy to digest, low in fat, and high in carbohydrates, protein, and antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. While there isn’t much of it, it is high in concentrated nutrition and very important for your newborn. Colostrum has a gentle laxative effect that helps your LO pass stool and also aids in the prevention of jaundice.
It is extremely important to breastfeed your newborn at least 8-12 times (approximately every 2-2.5 hours) for the first few days, and more is even better. This allows your baby to get all the benefits of the colostrum and also stimulates production of a plentiful supply of mature milk. Frequent breastfeeding also helps prevent engorgement. I will talk more about engorgement later but trust me…it is to be avoided if at all possible…it is not pleasant.
Better than any vaccine colostrum contains large quantities of the antibody IgA and actually works as a natural and 100% safe immune booster. Colostrum also plays an important role in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract. A newborn’s intestines are very permeable. Colostrum seals the holes of the gastrointestinal tract with a barrier that prevents foreign substances from penetrating and sensitizing a baby to foods the mother has eaten. Colostrum also contains high concentrations of leukocytes, protective white cells which can destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
During the first two weeks, as the colostrum changes to mature milk, the concentration of antibodies in your milk will decrease and the volume of milk will increase. Even though the colostrum decreases the disease-fighting properties do not.
As long as your baby is drinking human milk, they will receive immunological protection against many viruses and bacteria.
That is the scientific way it all works…as for my experience it has been a very interesting roller coaster of emotions and physical changes. Luckily I understand what my body is doing and I understand the importance to my growing LO…so I make adjustments and I sacrifice…something that you will come to discover goes along with parenting…
So that is how it works…but how does it benefit you and your LO?
NEXT BLOG IN SERIES: Breastfeeding…Part 2: Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mama