the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby

i always knew i wanted to breastfeed when i was ready to have children. why? i had heard and read about all the advantages for both mom and baby in school, in articles, from other moms, and in baby care classes. even so, i had no idea how difficult and stressful breastfeeding could be, at least during the first few weeks.

most women who breastfeed will initially experience soreness and chapping of the nipples because of the friction from the baby’s mouth. since newborn babies feed every 2-3 hours, your nipples really don’t have much time to recover. when i say babies eat every 2-3 hours, you have to count the time from when the baby begins feeding. so, if your baby started feeding at 1pm and stops at 1:30pm, you may need to start feeding again at 3pm.

knowing there would be initial discomfort, i was surprised at how painful the first latch, and every subsequent one, was. thinking it would get better – because usually it does – i gritted my teeth and kept breastfeeding penny. unfortunately, the pain was becoming more and more unbearable with me yelling out in pain and breaking the suction from penny’s mouth. during my stay at the hospital, i met with two lactation consultants and they assisted me in trying out different positions for the baby to be in when feeding such as the football hold, cradle, and reclining. i was still in intense pain and began using a nipple shield. this is supposed to be a temporary reprieve from the pain and discomfort caused by persistent latching problems.

nipple shield

however, the pain and latching problems continued when i came home. it came to a point where i dreaded feeding penny because of the immense suffering i experienced every time. feeding her from a bottle was not an option at that point because a bottle’s nipple is different from an actual nipple and it can negatively affect breastfeeding. even with the slow-flow nipples, milk can come out faster in bottles so babies may not learn how to suckle correctly. many doctors recommend introducing the bottle once breastfeeding is well-established.

at penny’s first doctor’s appointment, our aprn noticed that penny had a posterior tongue-tie. this kind of tongue-tie is not as visible as a regular tongue-tie because it’s hidden under the tongue lining. a posterior tongue-tie results in a shorter tongue and the tip is rather flat making it hard for a baby to nurse properly. our pediatrician performed a quick incision underneath her tongue and i nursed her right away to ease the bleeding and pain. again, for me, it was a temporary reprieve because the next day the pain and onslaught on my nipples continued.

after seeing a lactation consultant at the hospital and receiving a special ointment, i got the go-ahead to introduce the bottle while i recovered. dennis and i nearly cried with relief because we had been feeding penny using a syringe and a tube the past few days since i could no longer bear the pain. we were exhausted at me having to pump milk and then using a syringe to slowly feed penny every single feeding. it was just too much work.

now, penny is 17 days old and breastfeeding regularly though I do take break by giving her the bottle especially when we are out. i stopped using the “miracle” ointment and am fully recovered. during the exclusive bottle feeding days, penny was able to strengthen and get used to her “new” tongue.

here are the reasons why i was so persistent on breastfeeding despite the trauma that i endured:

1) breast milk contains many antibodies that is passed from mom to her milk. babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and other childhood illnesses.

2) breast milk is FREE and convenient. you don’t have to get out the pump (unless you’re out or want to save milk) or shell out hundreds of dollars on formula.

3) breastfed babies’ weight gain is steady and appropriate – you can worry less about unnecessary extra poundage.

4) “studies show a slight but statistically significant increase in the IQ of breastfed babies compared with those fed formula. One possible reason is that breast milk contains the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is important for brain development. Another brainy benefit of breastfeeding — all those hours of skin-on-skin contact with Mom are also great for your baby’s cognitive and emotional development (in addition to just making your baby feel nurtured and safe).” 

5) “breastfed babies build stronger jaws and have well-developed teeth and palates (in addition to fewer cavities later in life!)”

6) breastfed babies may become less picky eaters because breast milk takes on whatever flavor is in the mother’s diet.

7) bonding time – breastfeeding is very intimate especially more so if you do it skin-to-skin. sometimes i’ll breastfeed penny while she’s only wearing a diaper and i’m only wearing a nursing bra (or not even that). the skin-to-skin calms her and creates a special bond between mama and baby.

8) this one’s for the mama: BURN CALORIES AND LOSE WEIGHT!

[ source: http://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-guide/benefits.aspx%5D

i had heard breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and i couldn’t believe how quickly my uterus and stomach shrank along with the extra pounds. during my entire pregnancy, i gained about 18 pounds. most of it was in my stomach area as i was still able to wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes.

even when i was pumping milk and not breastfeeding during the recovery days, i was shedding pounds because of the nipple stimulation. when i feed penny, my stomach gurgles like the calories are dissipating on the spot. two things about breastfeeding is that you get extremely thirsty and hungry – make sure you drink plenty of water especially during pumping and breastfeeding. when my hands are tied, dennis holds the water glass to my lips so i can drink. teamwork!

regular breastfeeding and pumping ensures you have an abundance of milk:

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refrigerated milk can last up to 8 days

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frozen milk can last up to 6 months

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may 20 – 5 days postpartum

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these photos were taken 5 days after i had given birth. my uterus had already shrank significantly and my linea negra is still visible as is my belly button piercing. fyi, my friend told me the linea negra can take up to a few months to fade. perhaps i’ll invest in a one-piece swimsuit this summer 😦

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may 21 – 6 days postpartum

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my navel is slowly starting to go back in. my belly already looks little leaner from the day before.

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may 23 – 8 days postpartum

my ab muscles are becoming visible 8 days after giving birth – yay breastfeeding!

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may 26 – 11 days postpartum

stomach is getting noticeably flatter.

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may 28 – 13 days postpartum

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stomach is becoming more defined.

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june 1 – 17 days postpartum

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basically, i just need to work on toning my stomach!

Pregnancy weight:

Week 6: 126.9

Week 41: 144

Post-pregnancy weight:

Week 1 postpartum: 139.9

Week 2 postpartum: 133.1

I’m ready to take on summer!!!!

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