The debate surrounding the appropriateness of mothers breastfeeding in public highlights how women’s bodies are sites of oppression. It is a literal representation of the gender inequities we still face today. For some reason, a lot of people get really uppity when it comes to discussing breastfeeding and whether it’s ‘appropriate’ in public settings, but the act of breastfeeding is both natural and healthy for women, and critical for babies and their immediate and long-term well being. In honor of August being National Breastfeeding Month, we wanted to help you delve in to your thoughts on the topic with this overview of benefits to breastfeeding and using cotton nursing pads.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Babies
It is now recommended that women should give their babies exclusively breastmilk for the first 6 months and then continue to supplement it with other foods for at least the next 12 -18 months. Why?
Breastmilk IS the baby’s immune system.
For the first two weeks following delivery, a woman’s breasts produce colostrum, which is highly concentrated in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies, a substance similar to a vaccine, in its ability to ward off viruses and infections in your baby. This is especially important, because conventional vaccines cannot be given to your baby until he or she is at least 2-months old.
It provides long-term benefits, lowering the risk of future health complications.
After the first 14 days, colostrum turns to breast milk, which doctors recommend feeding babies exclusively for at least the first six months. Studies indicate babies that are exclusively breastfed (without any formula) have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, bouts of diarrhea and are less likely to develop asthma or allergies. Evidence also suggests that exclusive breastfeeding for at least two months protects susceptible children from from Type I insulin-dependent diabetes and reduce the risk for subsequent inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and childhood cancers. Children who are breastfed exclusively are also less likely to become overweight or obese later in life, lowering their risk for other non-communicable diseases such as heart disease.
The benefits of breastmilk last much beyond childhood; the safeguards it builds in infancy can protect an individual throughout their lifetime and as such, should be considered as sacred as medicine, not to be replaced by formula. Formula itself was actually once hotly contested after Nestle was accused of pushing powdered formula to women in developing countries under the guise of being healthier for babies, taking advantage of their lack of education and ignoring the fact that clean water was rarely accessible, leading to deathly diarrhea.
Close contact with mom in those early months is better for mental health.
Evidence suggests that children who have been exclusively breastfed for at least six months earn higher wages, have higher IQ levels and fewer issues of emotional attachment and security. These children and future adults are less likely to battle emotional challenges like depression and anxiety. Developing habits of eye contact and trust are also crucial for future communication.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Women
In addition to providing women with the release of swollen, tender, painful breastmilk build up, breastfeeding has several great benefits for new moms —
1. Studies show that women who breastfeed for at least one year are less prone to developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. It may also lower the risk of developing osteoporosis.
2. Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
3. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth, lowering the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging.
4. It’s cheap! Because it’s literally leaking out of you, it’s free and in abundance. Not having to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, saves vast amounts of time and money.
5. Breastfeeding gives women regular and frequent time to relax quietly with their newborns. This skin-to-skin contact is important for emotional and physical bonding and eases feelings of anxiety, emptiness and sadness for those women struggling with postpartum depression.
Day or night, breastfeeding or not, breast milk leakage is something you’ll have to deal with. Breasts will tend to ‘leak’ to relieve some of the pressure built up within the duct, a sign of healthy lactation processes, or when you’re relaxed, or stimulated, or doing nothing at all. It is important to keep your breasts clean and dry to prevent nipple soreness and infection. Tips to dealing with these swollen geysers are to wear cotton pads inside your nursing bra (and change them regularly), crossing your arms over your breasts and squeezing to temporarily stop release during let-down, and of course, wearing tops that can camouflage leak stains.
Maxim’s Disposable Nursing Pads are made to help ensure a smooth and comfortable nursing experience for new moms; these absorbent, breathable, hypoallergenic pads can be tucked into your bra to keep you dry and soft, whether you’re on the go or lazing in bed. What to Expect, a great blog and resource for new and expecting moms, recommends definitely skipping pads with a plastic or waterproof liner since they trap moisture and lead to nipple irritation. Remember, your skin can absorb chemicals and with open membranes in your nipples, your body and your baby’s, are susceptible to what you come into contact with. Stay as natural as you can with our bleach-free 100% cotton nursing pads for the cleanest, healthiest option for both of you.