The Lakeshore Medical Clinic of Breastfeeding Medicine is home to one of my favorite doctors anywhere -- Dr. Jenny Thomas, MD, IBCLC, FAAP, FABM. I've been lucky enough to have spoken with her directly about breastfeeding before, and even luckier to be able to share this completely amazing article by her with you all.
She wrote an article about what is supposed to happen with a full-term, healthy baby. And when you break it all down, it's all very, primitive basics. She questions why so many moms question our natural ability to breastfeed.
First of all, a human baby is supposed to be born vaginally. Yes, I know that doesn't always happen, but we're just going to talk ideal, normal for now. It's no accident that we are born near the anus, an area that has lots of bacteria, most of which are good and necessary for normal gut health and development of the immune system.
Then the baby is born and is supposed to go to mom. The chest, between the breasts is the natural habitat of the newborn baby. (Fun fact: our cardiac output, how much blood we circulate in a given minute, is distributed to places that are important. Lots goes to the kidney every minute, like 10% or so, and 20% goes to your brain. In a new mom, 23% goes to her chest -- more than her brain. The body thinks that place is important!)
Breastfeeding isn't special sauce, a leg up or a magic potion. It's not "best." It's normal. Just normal. Designed for the needs of a vulnerable human infant. And nothing else designed to replace it is normal.
Most women don't believe that the body that created that beautiful baby is capable of feeding that same child and we are supplementing more and more with infant formulas designed to be food. Why don't we trust our bodies post-partum? I don't know. But I hear over and over that the formula is because "I am just not satisfying him." Of course you are. Babies don't need to "eat" all the time -- they need to be with you all the time- that's the ultimate satisfaction.
A baby at the breast is getting their immune system developed, activating their thymus, staying warm, feeling safe from predators, having normal sleep patterns and wiring their brain, and (oh by the way) getting some food in the process. They are not "hungry" -- they are obeying instinct. The instinct that allows us to survive and make more of us.
There's much more to her full post, including bits about sleeping, tigers, and bonding, and I adore her for it.
You hear us talk so much about how breastfeeding is natural, and yes, it is normal, not "best." But we don't have mothers, aunts, midwives, and entire communities that have all breastfed and seen breastfeeding their whole lives. Breastfeeding, despite being what we're designed for, has become foreign to us, even as mammals ... our name is based on MAMMARY glands! We're named for breastfeeding!
Yet something so natural and primitive becomes so complicated when we have outside sources constantly telling us we're doing it wrong, our baby isn't growing right, that man-made products are close enough, or that it's not worth the struggle. Just how you KNOW your baby is growing inside of you, even though you can't measure ounces or output, go into nursing KNOWING that your body does that right too. After all, it nourished your baby for 9 months just right.
Did you struggle to trust your body, in pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding?
Image via amileegirl/CafeMom