I know what you’re thinking – what could something so natural have in common with chocolate waterfalls, exploding candy, or even Everlasting Gobstoppers? Well, I think that these miraculous creations have more similarities than one may think.
1) It changes over time. Just like Wonka’s Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum, breast milk is always changing.
- Day to Day
Like the gum, flavors change daily based on mom’s diet, which is huge! This gets your little one used to the tastes they might experience once they graduate to complementary foods, which can make them more likely to accept them.
- Short Term
It changes over the course of a feeding – beginning with the higher-sugar foremilk and ending with the higher-fat hind milk. This switch turns on babies’ satiety sensors, so they can realize that they’re feeling full and satisfied, which can help them regulate their intake now and when they get older. Pumping Mamas can see that the milk and “cream” separate after refrigeration.
- Long Term
Also, it changes over the course of nursing. When babies are first born, the breasts produce colostrum, a very concentrated mix of antibodies, immune cells, and protein. (We’ll talk more about this “liquid gold” in a future post.) As nursing continues, the breasts eventually produce “mature” milk, which is lower in protein, but higher in
carbohydrate and fat. Don’t forget the vitamins, minerals, and immune components – all which aim to keep baby healthy! Nutritional content does decrease the longer baby nurses, however, so don’t forget to add in complementary foods once baby has reached six months.
2) Oompa-Loompas are necessary. Just like Wonka had his little orange assistants, nursing Mamas need help as well! As soon as I would sit down to nurse, especially early on, I felt parched and starving – like I had never drunk or eaten anything before in my life. Rather than mess up a good latch (which, for me at least, was easy to do in the beginning as my little one and I were learning this new skill), I would summon my hubby to bring me my water and a snack. Also, setting up pumping stations (that your partner, a good friend, or older child can refill) can be a huge help. When my daughter was suffering from colic, the only time she was quiet (and comfortable, I hope) is when she was nursing. Let me tell you, not easy to eat a meal with a little one constantly latched, and FORGET about cutting your own food. My plate always looked like a toddler’s, all food cut and ready to eat –but it kept me and my little one nourished. Additionally, having someone there to do the dishes, feed the cats, fold laundry, cook dinner, or [insert chore here] while you bond with your new addition is priceless! Don’t discount the emotional support, as well! Someone to listen to your concerns and be a shoulder to lean on while you adjust to the learning curve is an immeasurable blessing.
See Getting Through the Six-Week Growth Spurt for more
3) People are trying to steal the secrets. Okay, so it turned out that (at least in the 70’s movie) that Slugworth was actually just testing Charlie, but the point still stands. As much as formula companies try, they just cannot match breast milk. In my opinion, that’s pretty remarkable considering other great medical breakthroughs we have in this day and age. One vital component missing from formula is cholesterol. While many adults try to limit or avoid it, it is vital for babies’ brain development. Moms’ cholesterol levels rise during pregnancy to accommodate the baby’s need once breastfeeding is initiated, and breastfeeding Mamas may see their cholesterol levels return to normal much faster than a mom who chooses to formula feed.
Check out Formula Safety 101
4) They’re made by geniuses. Whether you believe in God, Mother Nature, or some other higher being, you have to admit – our bodies are pretty awesome and whoever made them that way is even more awesome! Our bodies have the amazing ability to nourish our littles from in the womb to immediately after birth to one year and beyond. Breastfeeding is the ultimate supply and demand system – use it or lose it! That’s why women are able to solely breastfeed twins or even triplets and why those who supplement with formula may see an even further drop in supply (pumping in place of the formula-subbed feed can help prevent this drop). You can breastfeed for as long (or as short) of a duration as you and your baby would like. Also, after birth, our hormones are fluctuating (A LOT) and trying to find their new “normal” levels. A side effect of this, combined with all of the other changes to our lives and the stress of learning a new skill, such as breastfeeding, may be periods of emotional vulnerability, or crying spells. Crying releases oxytocin (aka the love hormone), which improves the let-down reflex, so it’s ultimately a benefit! Our “super” natural sensors can even tell if our baby is born pre-mature and adjust the milk to meet his or her needs!