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Tag Archives: breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is what I’ve found to be the most profound expression of motherhood. Not labor and delivery of the baby, not pregnancy, not conception, all important and indispensable stages of becoming a mother. When I say breastfeeding is the most profound expression of motherhood, it is because I see it as a choice a mother makes that is the ultimate giving of herself. It is a choice that is nowadays not imperative, given the option of bottle feeding formula.
By breastfeeding, a mother gives her child her time, holding her in her arms and patiently letting her suckle day and night. By breastfeeding, a mother gives her child the nutrients produced by her body, more complete and more pure than anything that can be grown or manufactured on earth. By breastfeeding, a mother teaches her child’s immune system how to defend itself from diseases she has had experience with up to that point.
I’ve been breastfeeding my baby for almost a year now, and I will continue to do so until she decides to wean herself. I have never been wrong in observing my child closely and allowing her to decide what is best for her. When she’s hungry she eats, when she’s full she pushes food away. I believe that babies are more in touch with the pure and honest needs of their own bodies. As adults we have become too educated and worldly, mired in words and concepts, perhaps not as in touch with what’s basic and real.
There have been many times when breastfeeding my child constantly is what saves her. I put her at my breast when she’s constipated. It seems to settle her upset tummy and hydrates her till she is able to eliminate. I put her at my breast throughout air flights to and from visiting family. It eases her popping ears and keeps her from being dehydrated in those dry airconditioned airplanes. When she had a fever upon cutting her first tooth, I kept her at my breast with a cool damp washcloth at her forehead. Her fever subsided shortly and she is back to being her healthy and happy self. As a toddler, when she caught pink eye from one of her playmates, a couple of drops of breastmilk into the affected eye cleared the conjunctivitis quickly.
Breastfeeding has helped me too. I’ve become more confident in my abilities as a mother and a caregiver. I saved money by not buying formula, bottles, and other bottle feeding paraphernalia. Late night feedings are a breeze because all I have to do is turn over to my side and present my breasts.
I feel really lucky that I am able to stay at home and care for my baby full time the way I do. I understand some women don’t have that luxury. In two-income families, the choice to feed with formula is made for them by the realities of having to leave their child at a day care facility.
This book, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” published by La Leche League, presents as many solutions as there are obstacles preventing contemporary women from breastfeeding their babies. It’s an important book to read during pregnancy, to prepare for the real work ahead.
Ever since my baby was born, I’ve heard a number of breastfeeding myths from my mother and some aunts, women whose parenting skills were shaped during the ’70’s, when milk companies took advantage of the women’s liberation movement to sell mothers formula. Here are some of the myths I’ve heard, and the truths that bust these myths:
MYTH #1: Breastmilk does not have complete nutrition.
On the contrary, breastmilk has everything a baby needs to grow up strong and healthy. There is no other food or drink grown or manufactured on earth that can compare to the nourishment provided by breastmilk.
MYTH # 2: There is not enough breast milk to satisfy baby.
Our breasts make as much milk as our infant requires. Baby’s suckling stimulates the milk ducts, which in turn creates the milk. As baby grows and requires more milk, the supply of milk increases. As baby begins eating solids and weans, the supply of milk adjusts to the decreasing demand. If the natural supply-demand connection between mother and baby is followed, instead of imposing schedules, pumping, or supplementing with formula, there would be less problems with engorgement, clogged milk ducts and leaking.
MYTH # 3: Mother will wrinkle up and age prematurely if she breastfeeds.
Premature aging has long been related to dryness of the skin. It is important to keep ourselves hydrated while breastfeeding. Just like when we were pregnant, at least 2 liters of water a day will keep our bodies healthy and our skin glowing. Soups and fruit juices are a wonderful way to hydrate and nourish ourselves.
Studies show less problems with osteoporosis or calcium deficiencies, less incidences of cancer of the uterus, and less incidences of breast cancer among women who have breastfed on a long-term basis.
MYTH # 4: Antibodies can only be passed on to baby within the first 6 months.
Antibodies are constantly being passed on to baby while the breastfeeding connection is kept. That is why experts suggest that breastfeeding continue, even during times when mother has caught a cold or flu. This allows the baby to be exposed to a milder version of the virus and the antibodies to create immunity.
For more information about breastfeeding, visit What To Expect.
Recently we made our way across the country visiting my husband’s family. We traveled as far away as one could possibly travel within the United States, coming from California to Boston, then taking a shuttle plane up north to Maine. It was our ten-month-old baby’s first airline trip.
She was amazing! She was perfectly happy as long as she was in either one of our arms. Upon take-off and landings I made sure to put her on my breast to ease any altitude problems with her ears popping.
At Boston Logan Airport we found a place called Kidport, sponsored by the Boston Children’s Museum. What a wonderful idea! It was a lifesaver for us while waiting between flights. Our baby was totally immersed in the play space. There are rocking chairs for mothers with nursing babies. There is a great exhibit on airline travel, coupled with an airplane slide and a baggage claim slide that bigger kids can run around in. There is a ball trail and other play spots. The whole area is wide open and a real haven from the rest of the busy airport.
This weekend we went to Children’s Fairyland in Lake Merritt, Oakland, an outdoor amusement park with a fairy tale theme.
Created in 1950, this historic park still has the creepy allure of old-fashioned fairs. Attractions look like they are in need of a new coat of paint. The pen marked “Three Blind Mice” had a guinea pig and the pen that housed the Three Billy Goats Gruff only had two overweight goats when we visited. One of the goats strolled over to us and let us pet him. Our baby was reluctant to pet him, and I appreciated the goat’s kindness and understanding of what the children come out here for, but it still made me feel sad. I imagined the goat having the same low voice as Eeyore, sadly resigning himself to an activity he may not necessarily enjoy, but has learned to put up with.
When my baby wanted to breastfeed, we stopped by the little pond marked “Goosey Goosey Gander,” which housed two ducks. I sat there amused at the sad orchestral music playing, remarking to my husband about how the minor keys were making me feel so sad for the animals. Can you imagine being stuck somewhere and having to put up with sad music all day?
Children’s Fairyland is also home to a sheep, an alpaca and Coco the Pony, who is 34 years old!
All in all, we had a great time at Children’s Fairyland. There are lots of fun places to photograph – a Three Little Pigs roleplaying station, Alice in Wonderland, a Wild West setting – and tiny little houses for children to run around in. I would definitely come back again and support our local amusement park. It’s the only way I know how to make it a better place for my growing child.