The Benefits Of Breastfeeding Is Not What You Think

There are numerous online articles, discussions, expert opinions and living room debates on breastfeeding your baby versus feeding them formula milk. This topic has been on going for years, if not decades. They all resonate almost the same mantra. How breast milk is the healthier option, if not the only option. And how its nutrition to the baby and its immune system knows no end. An unending stream of all the delights and joys of breastfeeding. They are all irrefutably true, of course. Breastfeeding advocates tend to be those who would have, or are breastfeeding for a long time. Sometimes up to four or even five years with very high production of milk. But let’s just say I do not fall within the above group.

a female horse stands still in a grassy plain as her young fowl nurses from her.
There are many who have been formula fed as well. Some right from birth. This does not (and should not) nullify the divinity of breastfeeding in any way.
Image by maryhelly from Pixabay

Formula Milk Isn’t The Enemy

There are plenty of mothers that opt for formula milk right away. I myself was formula fed as a child. Moreover, both my children were mostly formula fed. The first child, I only managed to breastfeed for a week. It was four months for my second child. Indeed I am grateful that myself and my two children are in good health. Despite taking the less “healthy” option, so to speak. With the right active lifestyle and good nutritious food, anybody can live a long and healthy life. We cannot solely blame formula milk for a poor immune system, low nutrition or the tendency to fall ill quickly. 

When I first got pregnant, as parents we purchased formula milk prior to delivery. This was more of a precautionary measure than wanting to formula feed. As a first-time mother, my milk production was extremely low, which was one of the few reasons I ended up switching to formula. With my second baby, I told myself I would try to stick it out, at least for a longer period of time. There was a small part of me that wished I had stuck it out a little longer with my first. However, due to situational circumstances, I could only breastfeed my second child for about four months, and then made the switch to formula milk.

breastfeeding; a baby bottle with milk beside a white baby romper.
For me, there was only one real element of breastfeeding that caused every other reason to pale in comparison.
Image by valeria_aksakova from Freepik

Four Months Breastfeeding Joy And Then Some Not

During that four months of breastfeeding my second baby, I do admit that it was one of the best things to do as a mother. However, not for all the popular reasons we read and hear about. The nutritional value of mother’s milk and all other common pros of breastfeeding were not present in my mind at all. Truth be told, those four months were not very blissful. I had scores of troubles with pumping, bleeding, sores and so on. There were nights I would be in tears and unimaginable pain.

But even through all that, and as the initial few weeks rolled by, I was able to get myself and my breasts to settle down. Subsequently, I did feel an absolute sense of peace and purpose. As though I was finally seeing what exactly breasts were created for. To me, it appeared to be perfectly designed for this divine purpose, and only for this purpose. All other uses for the existence of breasts paled in comparison while I was breastfeeding. At the risk of sounding cliché, it was truly a beautiful experience.

a mother sits privately in her bedroom quietly breastfeeding her newborn.
I found absoluteness when my baby was feeding on me. Even though before and after the actual act itself was so stressful.
Image by Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care

The Magic Touch Of Lactation Consultants

One of the better initiatives of hospitals and postnatal care providers these days are to have a lactation consultant on hand for new mothers. Lactation consultants are breastfeeding experts. They do all they can and more for both mothers and babies to have the full experience of breastfeeding. This I experienced on both occasions at the hospital. They encourage all mothers, whether first time or otherwise, to not only just breastfeed their babies, but to stick it out for a considerable period of time.

These consultants don’t just teach how to breastfeed. They teach mothers how to position their fingers around the baby’s head, which way to turn his or her neck, how to position their breasts so the baby has its mouth full. How to listen for breathing so as not to choke the baby. They point out the exact spots on the breasts where the milk ducts are and how to press them to induce flow of milk. They also show how to feel for full milk ducts, and which aren’t yet. There are also so many positions to place hands, elbow, pillow, shoulder, etc. Before these experiences, I never knew so many other body parts were involved in breastfeeding.

lactation consultant helping a mother breastfeed her baby.
A lactation consultant also known as breastfeeding experts do so much more than just showing mothers how to breastfeed.
Image by Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care

Getting Breastfeeding Experts Involved

There is a growing demand for experts and places where we can get professional help from. One such person who has both her hands deep in the matter of breastfeeding is SuLing Wong. SuLing is a breastfeeding consultant with Childbirth International and currently undergoing training as part of her The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN) breastfeeding counsellor course. She had twins a couple of years ago, and she says this spurred her to work on becoming a professional in breastfeeding. She was determined to breastfeed her twins when they were born. Even though the popular notion where twins are involved, is that it would be impossible for the mother to breastfeed both of them. Despite so many naysayers, SuLing stuck it out and amazingly breastfed both her children for a couple of years!

“This is on a case by case basis of course. First and foremost, a mother must understand her body. I was grateful that I was healthy and able to breastfeed my twins for a couple of years.”

SuLING, founder of twin c postnatal consultancy & care

SuLing is also owner and founder of Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care. Twin C is one of the leading breastfeeding positive spaces. They strive to provide only the best for mothers to breastfeed and to continue to do so further along. “Owning and running a postnatal care centre which is a complete breastfeeding positive space isn’t easy. The team and I need access to a lot of resources and be fully knowledgeable as well. This is to enable us to handle our mothers in whatever breastfeeding situation they may face,” says SuLing.

a mother settles comfortably in her bed with her newborn cradled in her arms.
Mothers need a calm space to relax and settle down with her baby. More often than not, positive support can come from the people who are around her.
Image by Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care

Having More Positive Breastfeeding Spaces

In hindsight, perhaps the reason why I was so quick to switch to formula with my firstborn was because formula milk was available at every opportunity. Moreover, at the concerned suggestions of those around me to switch to formula, I readily consented. Breastfeeding is serious labour. Mothers often feel tired, winded or ravenous after a session. They could also feel down, stressed and anxious without the proper help or support.

Looking back, how I wish I had reached out for professional help, or at least get myself settled in a breastfeeding positive space. A place where both my mind and body could relax, get some help to stick it out, and fully breastfeed for a long time. Breastfeeding positive spaces are places where the facilities, people and even ambiance are designed so that a mother feels calm and relaxed to breastfeed. This could very well mean, not having formula milk readily available, unless in an emergency. Yes, even the people, whether family or professional help around the mother has to be in agreement when it comes to the matter of breastfeeding.

a mother gets support from a person; whether family or staff, to help with breastfeeding.
Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care is fully a breastfeeding positive space. This is all due to the hard work by SuLing and team.
Image by Twin C Postnatal Consultancy & Care

Getting The Right Help

SuLing first gained her basic breastfeeding knowledge from Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor Association (MBFPCA). She also received a lot of guidance from many leading breastfeeding consultants and trainers. Find out more from Twin C on how you can make this breastfeeding journey meaningful.

Earlier in the article we spoke about nutritious food and regular exercise is a given to lead a healthy lifestyle. This is for anybody regardless of age, gender, body type and so on. Stay tuned to find out more about what role nutritious food actually plays in mothers and their newborn babies.

Read more about Twin C here:

About Rachel PUNITHA

Lecturer turned writer, Rachel is a romantic at heart, with words that is... She's into a host of topics, which include family culture, mental & emotional health, and especially the boring subjects like money management and retirement planning.

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