Header from Fyr til Fyr 60k. Photo by Moses Løvstad

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Why I love having my boobies sucked

By my six month old son, of course.

I am wondering why only 36% of American moms make it through a mere 6 months of breast feeding. I didn't know it was that low until I read this NY Times article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/most-moms-give-up-on-breast-feeding/?em

Anyway, this article has inspired me to talk about what breastfeeding has been like for me. Without really intending to, I came up with a list of 10 reasons to breastfeed. So if the American Academy of Pediatrics' statement that all women should breastfeed at least one year isn't enough for you, please allow me to assuage your fears and tell you why you, too, will love having your boobies sucked.

First of all, the experience.

I love being woken up in the early morning by the squeaking, panting Lorax moving all of his limbs to tell me he's hungry. I move him toward the boob and, with mouth snapping in the pitch black, he sniffs his way to his target. There is nothing in the world like the feeling of breastfeeding and, though few women admit it, it actually feels good. If I say any more, people will probably find it a bit too kinky. I fall asleep immediately after he starts eating, soothed by his little warm body next to mine.

Second of all, it won't make your undercarriage dry (at least not for that long).

Undercarriage is the word SR uses with the older lady patients. But that's an aside. So you may have heard that breastfeeding dries out your, well, undercarriage. This may be true, at first. But the longer you breastfeed, the more normal you will become. And by five months you will probably find you feel completely normal. So don't give up on the breastfeeding before that!

Third.

The Lorax just grabbed my tit with his little hand and twisted it as I was typing the above. It hurt but it was fun.


Fourth.

It costs nothing. Except for the extra food you will need to buy for yourself.


Fifth.

You get to eat more.


Sixth.

Humans have evolved to be fed breast milk and breast milk has evolved to feed humans. The proper development of every part of the human body depends on getting it. You are fooling yourself if you believe formula is a good substitute. Formula does not contain antibodies to protect babies from infection. And there are over 100 other ingredients in breast milk that cannot be duplicated in formula. Those that can be added to formula are not in the same form and are not as easily digested and cause constipation.
This means a lot for a baby's development. Let's take brain development as one example:

Here are average IQ's at age 27 years for increasing lengths of breastfeeding:

Breastfed ≤1 month: 99.4
Breastfed ≥1 to 3 months: 101.7
Breastfed 4 to 6 months: 102.3
Breastfed 7 to 9 months: 106.0
Breastfed greater than 10 years: 140.8 (just kidding about this last one)

You can see my old post for all of the health risks of not breastfeeding. But they include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.

Seventh.

Breastfeeding won't make you too tired to exercise. I have basically had the same energy level as I did before I got pregnant. I do feel it a bit more quickly, though, if I'm not eating a balanced diet.

Eighth.

You don't need to remember to bring a bottle and formula with you everywhere.

Ninth.

Your boobs will be bigger. I guess this could be a positive or a negative. I'll just leave it at that.

Tenth.

As long as you exclusively breastfeed, you can say that all of the precious cells in his little body came from you.

So I guess The Lorax is now composed of me and chocolate cupcake. Running Song of the Day: Det snurrar i min skalle by Familjen. Sweden has the best pop music in the world. But this song is special because it's actually in Swedish and, if that's not enough, the Swedish in it sounds so cool.

20 comments:

Abbie said...

Love the picture of the Lorax. I liked your post and particularly liked the part about big boobs and how it can be a plus or negative however you look at it. I hate big boobs and of course mine were huge so I did not like it. I also had an extremely hard time nursing and quit at 3 months. I used to beat myself up about it because it seems like everywhere you look it's pro-breastfeeding but I'm over that. There were so many aspects I loved and a few I didn't (ie: big boobs and feeling tied to my baby 24/7). I think when/if there is a second, things will be better. I went three times to lactation specialists before finally giving up. Everyone was really helpful but nothing really helped my situation. Oh well.

One thing I would have to disagree with are studies which state that formula fed babies are more likely to be obese, have asthma, diabetes, have a lower IQ, other bad things, etc. I guess it's just my own opinion but to me, those things seem more related to lifestyle than breastfeeding. I was only breastfed for six months and am finishing up a Masters degree, am not overweight and don't have any diseases. It just reminds me of what Brian Williams said one night on the NBC Nightly News, "If you wait long enough, a study will come out which supports your way of thinking." Just my two cents.

Abbie said...

I meant six weeks... not six months... and I am of course referring to when I was a child.

sea legs girl said...

Yeah, Abbie. I agree that lifestyle can increase your risk for those diseases more than the lack of breastfeeding ever could. But I don't think we can refute all of the high quality studies that have been done showing links. It is in respected medical literature, such as the New England Journal of Medicine. And it has been proven to the point that it is part of our guidelines as physicians.
All that being said, being the good, loving mother that I'm sure you are is infinitely more important.

olga said...

Wishful thinking for me...my milk stopped at 4 months both times. I guess I'll have to try once more:)

Danni said...

I've known women who really wanted to breastfeed but for various reasons, despite much effort, it didn't work out. And, there are women who feel like it's a personal choice and choose not to and are offended by people pushing it on them. Kind of a sensitive topic it seems among moms. And I'm not one so this topic doesn't get me worked up :p

The Chapples said...

I think you're right, Danni. Although I plan to breastfeed my baby, what if I can't? What if there's some problem that prevents me from doing so? I think there is so much pressure to breastfeed that if you can't (or don't want to), you're made to feel bad for that choice. I do think it's healthy for the baby but it's also a personal choice.

Brianne said...

Yay breastfeeding! Though I have to say I don't exactly share your love for it. In my somewhat selfish life, it is probably the only thing I have done, and am doing, that is entirely selfless. I am counting down the days (13!) until the exclusive period is finished so I might get a break though I realize it will be quite a while before I'm finished. (At least until she's a year old.)

I miss my perfect, small, breasts. My "undercarriage" is still, ahem, far from normal - may have something to do with not having my cycle back. And I don't really like being bitten by toothless, yet strong jaws and being clawed by tiny, jagged fingernails. But that's just me. I do it anyway, though.

And I didn't feel pressure to do it. In fact, I feel like a bit of an outsider in the military community. I feel eyes boring into my soul when I feed her in public, no matter how discreet I may be.

You're right about energy. I don't feel like it affects my levels at all, even with a lot of exercise.

sea legs girl said...

Thanks for all of the comments. First of all, no one should feel guilty if they can't breastfeed. I tend to think it is a good policy to focus only on the things in life that we can change or have an effect on.
The purpose of this post was to help women out there make an informed decision. And to hear about other experiences.
I do have to agree with Brianne that one of the negative aspects of breastfeeding in public is "eyes boring into your soul" and I would add well-meaning people throwing blankets at you so you cover up more.

Mark & Ash said...

I am 4 weeks til due date and recently took a breastfeeding class. The instructor said that the world-wide average age to which a child is breastfed is 3.5 years! Obviously, this number is driven by underdeveloped/developing areas. Can you imagine the stares people would give us in the US if we were breastfeeding a 3 year old...

Heather said...

I love breastfeeding!!!

SteveQ said...

Does a man dare comment?

The studies linking breastfeeding with lessened disease risks are merely correlative. In the US, length of breatfeeding runs along economic lines and that seems to be causative: poverty leads to poor health, wealth to better medical care. Also, women who nurse a long time tend to be more alert to health problems just from being with the child longer.

BTW, breastfed 6 months, IQ 174.

Abbie said...

Steveq... love the comment.

sea legs girl said...

Steve Q,
I have to respectfully disagree. Many people have thought what you wrote and a recent study I read was in a population of women that had previously exclusively forumla fed. Then, for the study, half were forced to breastfeed. The same difference in IQ existed between the two groups as had been seen in previous studies. Who know if it's the components of breast milk or the act of breastfeeding. But does it matter?
Second, there have been a plethora of studies linking formula feeding (vs. breastfeeding) to adult disease. I refer to you a review article from less than two months ago published in the New England Journal that showed clear links between formula feeding and increased obesity and diabetes. Here's the link:

Gluckman, et al. "Effect of In Utero and Early-Life Conditions on Adult Health and Disease"

N Engl J Med 359:61, July 3, 2008 Review Article

It has now been clearly sorted out that it is not just socioeconomic factors that cause the difference in health and development in breastfed babies.

And that is one high IQ. But just imagine if you had just been breastfed three more months! I'm just kidding. But are you serious about that IQ!? (interrobang)

SteveQ said...

The NEJM article appears to me simply a restatement that epigenetic factors exist; I'll have to go back to their sources, as it's impossible to determine anything from the review. The other study you quoted is new to me - without having read it, I'll reserve judgment.

Yeah, the IQ was measured at 174 (Cattell scale) at age 10 and 158 (Terman) at age 12. I don't usually mention it because people have odd reactions to the fact.

I'm living proof that IQ is no determinant of success.

SteveQ said...

Just read the Am. J. Clin. Nut. article that removed income and 12 other variables - it's not very good science.

Let's just agree that breastfeeding is best.

Heather said...

Re: IQ debate---- I was bottle fed from the beginning (premature, and back then they supported formula only for preemies). My IQ is 138 on the scale where 140 = genius. Can I blame my mom on my missing that line? ;)


I'm not sure of all the benefits but it is obvious that breastfeeding is by far the best option for your child, if you can. (And for yourself! Hello weight loss and happy-mommy-hormones!)

sea legs girl said...

Just wanted to give anyone who was interested the reference to the breast vs. bottle feeding and IQ study I was referring to.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65:578-584.

I don't actually know of that American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article, Steve.

And Heather, Just curious how much of a premie you were. Studies I have read show that 34 weeks or greater and babies are pretty much normal in terms of IQ, but earlier than than IQ drops precipitously depending on how early the baby is born.

Kate said...

glad it's going well for you! i am impressed with your running, b/c it took me until about the 9 month mark to be able to get up and run in the a.m. (before baby awoke, and w/out having nursed in the middle of the night (thank god)).
it's too bad that breastfeeding has to be such a touchy subject. seems hard to say "breast is best" without offending those who eventually formula feed, or were not able to bf in the first place.
after pumping at work for 7 months (and hating it - c'mon, who likes to pump?), I have a new appreciation for moms who have to go back to work and don't have nearly the pumping-friendly set up that I did -- my own office, with a door.

The Chapples said...

I was watching a program on "pregorexia" today (basically a non clinical term for woman who develop EDs during pregnancy) and there was mention of the fact that mom's calorie restriction during pregnancy was correlated with lower IQs in baby. I only bring this up to say that there are probably a million and one reasons we have the IQs that we do. Correlation is different than cause and effect. I still would argue that breast is best, but I think there is a lot more that contributes to a person's intelligence than simply if they were breastfed or not.

Heather said...

Sea Legs --
I was two months premature. (32 weeks)
Other than not having fully formed lungs though - I was in NICU for that - I was alright and my development was ahead of the curve.