Whether you loved or hated breastfeeding your baby, there is no denying the many benefits it provides both mother and baby with. No, it is not for everyone and we are in support of fed babies no matter how their tummies are filled. However, if you're on the fence about whether or not you want to breastfeed, it's important that you consider all aspects of it.
For starters, you've got to think about your lifestyle: will you be working or staying at home? Are you going to nurse exclusively or pump too? These things may not seem like a big deal at first, but if you're going to commit 100 percent to breastfeeding your baby, you need to consider them. You will figure out soon enough that it might be more difficult than you previously thought. Is breastfeeding is something that is feasible for you? For many moms, it totally is! Breastfeeding is one of those things that is simultaneously the most convenient and least convenient thing in the world, and the exactly combination of ease-making and frustrating aspects varies wildly from woman to woman, and baby to baby.
Once you've figured out that, yes, you do want to give breastfeeding a try, it's smart to speak with a lactation consultant or do some research of your own that might aid you in the process of figuring it out. As many mothers can attest, breastfeeding isn't always easy. It takes work and time and commitment, but if you go that route, the benefits that your child will reap are incredible.
Our bodies are seriously so amazing. The things they do in order to provide our babies with nutrition, to adjust to their needs, and to keep them healthy are nothing short of incredible. Here are nine amazing things that our bodies do while breastfeeding.
Once Your Baby Latches, You Will Feel What Is Known As "Let-Down"
Once your baby latches properly it signals your brain to "let down" the milk into your breasts. It can take a few minutes and will probably feel sort of like a tingling sensation as the milk fills your breasts. First comes the "foremilk" that quenches your baby's thirst. It is typically thinner and a bit more watery. Second comes the "hindmilk." The hindmilk is thicker and creamier, and is filled with the nutrition and calories that your baby needs.
Your Body Makes Healthy Milk, So You Don't Have To Be On A Strict Diet
The nutrients that your body stores go first to your baby and then to you. Eating healthy is always recommended (duh) but when you're breastfeeding, a healthy diet is key to maintaining your own health and energy, rather than a higher quality of breast milk. So go ahead and eat a doughnut or a taco — your baby is getting all the nutrition he or she needs because our bodies are built to put them first. Kind of awesome, right?
Breastfeeding Helps Shrink Your Uterus Back Down To Its Normal Size
Oxytocin is released once your baby begins to feed. Once your brain is signaled to create the oxytocin you will sometimes feel mild cramping in your lower abdomen, sort of like menstrual cramps. Though they can be uncomfortable, they are actually a sign that your uterus is shrinking and your body is healing.
Breastfeeding Might Help You Fall In Love
There's a reason that so many women talk about bonding with their baby while breastfeeding. Again, blame it on the hormones. Oxytocin has many tricks up its sleeve, one of which is the feeling of falling in love. Oxytocin is the same chemical that is released into the brain when people fall in love or are deeply relaxed, so there's a reason that you may feel extra drowsy (other than the basic exhaustion of parenthood) and extra mushy. Go ahead, take a nap. You deserve it.
Your Body Burns More Calories
Our bodies naturally burn calories to make extra milk while we nurse. The more you nurse, the more calories you burn. That's why it's important to keep yourself fed too. Losing weight is one possible side effect of nursing, but if it's not done in a safe way your own health will suffer. And if your health suffers, your breast milk supply could too. So keep your tummy full, guilt-free (not that you should ever feel guilty about keeping your tummy full) knowing that your body is working extra hard to take care of both you and your baby.
Your Body Is Fine Tuned To Meet The Needs Of Your Baby
There's a reason for the breast pads in the baby section at Target. During those first few months of breastfeeding, your breasts may occasionally leak. Once again, oxytocin triggers your brain to produce milk when given certain cues, or after a certain amount of time.
Let's say you feed your baby every three hours. Your brain adapts to this schedule so it's preparing to feed your baby even before you are. If you don't hit that three-hour deadline, your breasts may leak due to the potential overflow of milk. Also, if you hear your baby (sometimes any baby) crying that same signal is sent to your brain telling it that it's time to feed.
Breast Milk Might Help Your Baby Sleep Better
Breast milk changes throughout the day. Evening breast milk is rich in sleep-inducing substances, such as melatonin, tryptophan, and amino acids that promote serotonin synthesis. Serotonin helps to keep us in a good mood in addition to aiding in sleep-wake cycles. No wonder babies look like they've passed out from drinking too much sometimes.
The More Your Baby Feeds, The More Milk Your Body Produces
If you're having trouble with your milk supply, your baby might be just the help you need. With increased feedings comes an increased supply of milk. Our bodies adjust to the demands of our babies. That's why many women are able to breastfeed their babies well into the first couple of years of their lives. Breastfeeding more often or nursing longer could signal your brain that your baby is hungrier than you previously thought, thus producing more milk.
Breastfeeding Can Boost Your Baby's Immune System
Breast milk contains many germ-fighting and health-promoting ingredients. When a baby is exposed to a new germ, the mother's body manufactures antibodies to that germ, therefore boosting the baby's immunity to that same germ. In fact, one of the best things to do for your baby during cold and flu season is to continue to breastfeed him or her. The antibodies in a mother's milk will help to protect babies from the germs that cause colds and flus. Bodies are so magical, it's almost creepy.