In my previous post, I made mention of some of the things that helped to make my breastfeeding journey a pleasant one. Since I’m trying to exclusively breastfeed my son for as long as possible (current target is three months; optimal goal is six months), I’m doing everything I can to milk the situation for all its benefits.
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The first benefit that caught my attention was that breastfeeding boosts a baby’s immune system. This helps their little bodies to fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections like pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract infections and the common cold and flu. But that wasn’t all – breastfeeding can also help to reduce the risk of diseases later on in the baby’s life. These include diseases/conditions like Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, Hodgkins Disease, Leukemia, obesity and eczema. Since a number of these diseases/conditions run in my family, nobody had to tell me twice!
Then I came across an article that was published in the Gleaner last July, entitled, ‘Breast Is Best – The Benefits and Joys of Breastfeeding.’ The article stated that not only does breastfeeding reduce the risk of the baby getting certain diseases later on in life, it also reduces the mom’s risk of getting ovarian and breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. So much so, that a woman who breastfeeds for a total of eight years has almost 0% risk of getting breast cancer, and a baby girl who is breastfed reduces her risk of getting breast cancer by about 25%.
The benefits that sold me on the practice however were the fact that breastfeeding can help a mum to heal faster, and return to her pre-pregnancy weight, since producing breastmilk burns up to 1,000 calories per day. Talk about having a built-in gym! But the most extraordinary thing I found out about breastfeeding was that the milk is literally magic. The milk produced by the mother’s breast changes according to the baby’s nutritional needs – and you’ll find cool things like the fact that the water content in the milk increases during hot weather or sickness to ensure that the baby stays hydrated.
In spite of all these benefits that breastfeeding offers, however, research shows that many Jamaican babies are still not being exclusively breastfed. In fact, the 2016 Economic and Social Survey produced by the Planning Institute of Jamaica revealed that only 47.5% of Jamaican babies were being breastfed exclusively. And some of the reasons I’ve read were just absolutely ridiculous – mothers claim that they don’t have the time, their breasts aren’t producing enough milk, it huuuuuurrrrrrrtttttttttssssssss and they don’t want to get saggy breasts.
That being said, I’ve made a list of must-haves for the mum who could make all the excuses in the world to not breastfeed, but chooses to anyways. Here goes:
I’ve literally tried them all – and really, its just a matter of preference. There’s the old-school hand-pump, the traditional electric pump, the rechargeable pump (my personal favourite) or breast milk collection shells. What definitely gets annoying is pumping by hand – either the cramps will kill you, or the time and effort it takes when you could either be finished in half the time, or multi-tasking. My newest obsession is the Elvie hands-free breast pump – I love everything about it, except the price. But you can’t pay for the convenience of popping a boob shaped pump into your bra, and pumping so quietly that no one knows your business and both hands are free to do whatever you want! It also comes with an app, and you can watch how much milk you’ve pumped without once pulling down your top!
As I prepare to go back to work after my 12-week maternity leave, I want to ensure that my son has an adequate supply of milk while I’m at work. To give myself enough wiggle room in the event that I don’t get to pump every day, I’ve started pumping and storing milk in the freezer so that his nanny/nursery can just defrost and feed him as he needs. Since breastmilk has an optimal freezer shelf life of six months, I think I’m well on my way with almost 120 ounces stored so far! I’ve been using the same bags I got from my Amazon Baby Registry because they’ve been so good – easy to use, pre-sterilised, can stand or lay flat in your freezer without taking up too much space. Best of all, they’re super easy to label with nothing more than a Sharpie.
Because sore nipples are a real mother-you-know-what, invest in some nipple balm. Especially after my boy feels like getting all gummy and grabby, a little soothing rub like this one gives me relief right away. And if he’s ready to suck again, you don’t even have to worry about wiping it off first!
The best gift I ever received before giving birth was two boxes of Nuby nursing pads – each containing 100 pieces. In just two months, I had to restock. But I’m wiser now – had I known what I know today about saving that breast milk, I’d have been able to use less pads and save more of that precious milk. Nonetheless, breastmilk stains will never go with your power suit, so be sure to stock up on these to use with or without a breast milk collection cup. If you’re a tree-hugger like I aspire to be, try these washable bamboo pads (they’re comfy) but I only use them at home because they’re not as leak-proof as the disposable ones.
Breastfeeding has given me immense appreciation for anything that begins with the phrase, ‘hands-free’. Get the bra, trust me.
Type One or not, breastfeeding and pumping should not be done without snacks, or proper hydration. At first, I would find myself hypoglycaemic during and after breastfeeding or pumping. Now, I’m always sure to grab a snack (or a few) and enough water and sometimes juice to keep the lows at bay.
Did I leave anything off? Tell me what you’ve used on your breastfeeding journey.