I'm currently on a little learning journey of my own - I'm delving into books that weigh a ton to really beef up my knowledge on breastfeeding. It's funny how I get stares whenever I emerge from the library with a stack of books with boobies on them and I'm walking out with my 10-year-old hand in hand.
But that's not the point of my post.
At the start, I really thought I'd share a little bit of what I've learned about the history of providing milk for our younglings - yes, younglings - because we are a mammalian species. However, upon further reflection, I also thought about my own breastfeeding journey. Hence, the content for this post (which took too long, I know).
Fun fact: We produce oxytocin when we eat, causing us to form social ties with those with whom we share a meal.
Did you know that colostrum was thought of as harmful and of no nutritional value?
Research conducted as recent as 2012 indicates that as many as 50 traditional societies delay early breastfeeding by more than 2 days to prevent infants from being fed colostrum. Communities in the eastern Mediterranean region and later, Euroupe, recommended giving newborns "cleansing" foods like honey, sweet oils or unsweetened water or wine to promote the passage of meconium.
Of course, we now know the importance of colostrum (otherwise known as 'liquid gold') and how breastfeeding as well as having baby latch in the first few days of birth to promote breastmilk 'coming in'.
The practice of giving any food other than mother’s milk to a newborn before the initiation of breastfeeding is known as prelacteal feeds and you can still see this today: when hospitals bottle feed newborn babies in nurseries and NICUs. It is important that I mention this at this point: of course, under various and possibly, extenuating circumstances, it is crucial to ensure baby is fed. I am not here to judge nor be the harbinger of put-downs.
Aside from prelacteal feeds, when we think about the fast-paced world we live in and when we try to give bottle feeds (expressed breastmilk or formula) to our babies, it's really to expand the circle of care while both mother and child are still experiencing high levels of important bonding hormones. This can be beneficial in so many ways:
- Dads have the opportunity to bond with baby
- Mamas have time to rest and recover
- Baby is introduced to more caregivers which helps lighten the stress and load on parents who can spend this extra time bonding with each other
So, breast is best? Fed is best? This delicate balance has been a real struggle for me, as with many mamas who are reading this, I'm sure. So, here I am, in this short video, to share this with you:
Sending you all my love,