Friday, February 18, 2011

Boob job

Warning: this column is about boobs, and what they’re really made for

Whoever coined the phrase “it’s no use crying over spilt milk”, obviously never met a nursing mother.
After many weeks of planning (read: stressing), I have gone back to my office job while still continuing to breastfeed my daughter.
I found support and helpful advice through the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), and my employer has been very accommodating with regards to lactation breaks.
However, because I have to leave expressed milk with my daughter’s carers during the day, it is no exaggeration when I say that breastmilk to me is like liquid gold.
So you can imagine my ‘express distress’ when I managed to pump out 80ml of milk, and just as I was unscrewing the storage cup, I dropped it, spilling the precious liquids all down my pyjamas and onto the floor.
What did I do in my sleep-deprived state?
I burst into tears.
The next day I took my daughter to her childcare centre knowing that I still had a good supply in their freezer.
But cyclone Yasi came along and took the power out, so at least two days’ supply of milk had to be thrown out!
Another reason to cry over spilt milk.

In any case, I appreciate the fact that I am able to breastfeed my daughter and I will continue for as long as possible.
But there are many women out there who try and try and try, but still don’t succeed on their breastfeeding journey.
Some women may find that although they started out breastfeeding, they are unable to continue to do so for any number of reasons such as lack of milk, chronic discomfort, or in my case with my firstborn, the need to take strong medication for a chronic illness.
Formula-fed babies are definitely the norm at childcare centres across the country, but it is a fact that formula in no way comes close to the benefits that breastmilk offers a baby.
According to the ABA, breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for at least the first six months of his or her life, and continues to be the most important part of a baby’s diet through the first year.
Breastmilk will supply half or more of a baby’s nutrients up to their first birthday, and up to one third to their second birthday.
The colostrum a baby receives in the first few days of life, and the breastmilk that follows, contains antibodies that provide resistance to infection.
The unique combination of fatty acids and other components in breastmilk contribute to optimal brain development, so lack of these in artificially-fed babies may result in lower intelligence.
Breastfeeding can reduce the chances of allergies, particularly if a baby has been exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and provides optimal development for a baby’s eyesight, speech, jaw and oral cavity development.
Formula-fed babies are more likely to develop ear infections, and may increase the risk of a baby developing juvenile diabetes and heart disease in the future.
There has also been research that shows formula-fed babies have a lower resistance to disease, are more likely to become sick, and is linked with a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Breastmilk is easier for babies to digest, it’s free, available 24 hours a day, and there are no bottles or heating required.
My husband calls me the “milk machine” because although our daughter loves cuddles from Daddy, she much prefers to be in my arms where food is close by!
For nursing mothers, breastfeeding decreases the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
It can also help your body return to its pre-pregnant state more quickly and triggers hormones to help you to recover from childbirth more quickly.
The hormone oxytocin is released during breastfeeding to stimulate the milk-ejection reflex.
Oxytocin, known as the “feel-good” hormone, is also released during sexual intercourse.
It acts like a bonding hormone – the good feelings it creates during interpersonal acts like breastfeeding and sex, help to build strong human relationships.
From my experience, you can certainly develop a close bond with your bottle-fed baby, but it does not compare to the bond that forms between a breastfeeding mother and her child, and that’s because the same hormones that make a mother’s milk also help a mother’s mind, too.
Prolactin is one of the body’s stress-fighting hormones, and when a woman is breastfeeding, these hormones bring a sense of contentment and relaxation.
Prolactin also suppresses ovulation and menstruation, offering a natural contraceptive.
Breastfeeding also triggers a sleep-inducing protein, helping both mother and baby fall into a peaceful sleep.
If I’ve had a busy and stressful day, breastfeeding my baby has a wonderfully calming effect over my whole body – it’s a great way to unwind (expressing milk, on the other hand, only makes you feel like a cow).
And here’s another surprise bonus of breastfeeding – I have experienced alopecia (hair loss) in my armpits. No waxing or shaving required!
If you’ve read this far, then you might be wondering why I would reveal to my readers the current mechanics of my chest.
But I want women to realise that breastfeeding and keeping your career is achievable, and more importantly, that women should not feel ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to do so. After all, you are putting your child’s needs first and that makes you a great mum.


Anonymous said...

great positive article on breastfeeding. It's good to get it out there, let's normalise breastfeeding! Good on you for showing that combining work and breastfeeding is possible.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shannon for sharing this article with us all. I too understand the value of "liquid gold" and how precious it was to me who worked hard to keep up the supply and to bub who only ever had breastmilk or EBM. Check your iron levels aren't too low and / or your Vitamin A level not too high (if taking a supplement) as these affected hair loss in my case.

Shannon said...

Thank you ladies for your feedback! It's been three months now and I'm still expressing at work. It's just a part of normal routine now, and I feel a bit silly for worrying at the start! Hope I've inspired others to continue breastfeeding their children when they return to work... it's so worth it!

Dennis Rode said...

That's very sweet to write a blog about the good benefits of breast feeding. Some women think their breasts are just for beauty; they even consider breast augmentation to enhance them. This blog reminds all, however, of the beauty of breastfeeding in its purest form. What a wonderful article.

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