Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is something that we can wax poetic about for hours, so in this week’s podcast we want to highlight a number of things about breastfeeding that we love the most.
- Breastfeeding creates an opportunity to slow down, focus on your baby and yourself, and pause to enjoy the moment. This relaxation is prompted by our favorite hormone: prolactin.
- The changing nutritional profile of human milk adapts to the baby’s nutritional needs over the course of the day and the entire course of breastfeeding. Toddler milk is even more packed with antibodies and immune factors, AND the changing flavor of breast milk promotes an expanded palate and improved acceptance of solid foods.
- There are a number of reasons why breastfeeding is important to maternal health, including a reduction in risk of breast cancer, especially in younger women, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, as well as postpartum depression. (We also referenced the amazing work of Kathleen Kendall-Tackett.)
- Breastfeeding also reduces the child’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Breastfeeding is critical in establishing an infant’s microbiome and healthy gut flora, which is important in obesity prevention and optimized immune function. Not only does it have a probiotic effect, it also has a prebiotic effect, which feeds the good bacteria.
- Breast milk stools are significantly less offensive and easier to deal with.
- Human milk adapts to infections that EITHER the mother or baby is exposed to, producing an immune response. This is exclusive to feeding at the breast, so it is one of those areas where exclusive pumping won’t confer the same advantages.
- The breastfeeding relationship promotes attachment and responsiveness, which lasts into the teen years. Essentially it teaches us to learn to read the baby. (Here we invoke our gurus, Martha and Dr. William Sears.)
- Breastfeeding is perfect for lazy parenting–erm, we mean it is easier (in that it meets a number of needs simultaneously–HALT, helps them–and you–sleep due to the effect of CCK, and is always available for outings and adventure, and safe bed-sharing while breastfeeding helps everyone get more sleep in the long run–cue James McKenna).
- Breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of SIDS.
Although we have distilled the importance into these…expanded…items, we also talk about some challenges, adaptations, and impacts that breastfeeding offers. We hope that you enjoy this week’s podcast just as much as we enjoyed the very special, and fleeting, time of nursing our children.