what you don't hear about breastfeeding: part 3

your newborn does not need to eat right away
your colostrum [fatty super food especially designed for a newborn] may come in as just drops at a time, and your milk may not come in for a few days. this is okay. your baby is born well nourished and doesn't need to breastfeed the moment she is born. of course, latching her on right away is a perfect way to bond, but if she is not getting anything yet, no need to worry. 

sometimes, a hospital will tell you you must give your baby at least a bottle of formula before you leave -- you don't have to. it is not necessary. your baby, your choice. 

"ecological breastfeeding" will help you lose those pounds
i've heard so often that breastfeeding helps women lose the pounds, since you are burning 300-500 calories a day -- except the last ten, that seem to overstay their welcome. however, in my case, i lost my baby weight so fast, no matter what i ate, and continued to lose weight past my pre-baby weight. then my friend samantha told me that "on-demand" feeding [which is what i thought i was doing] and "ecological breastfeeding" [which is what i was actually doing] are not the same. the difference? on-demand feeding is not feeding on a schedule, but feeding whenever your child is showing signs of hunger. ecological breastfeeding is feeding whenever your child is hungry... and sad, scared, hurt, bored, needs a snack, wants to snuggle, is being loud, doesn't feel good, is a little fussy, needs to suckle -- in other words, all the time! that's definitely what river and i have done since day one [although there has been the occasional use of a bottle or pacifier]. and here is the magical secret -- women who practice ecological breastfeeding can lose up to 1000 calories a day! 

of course, ecological breastfeeding is not for everyone. it takes great commitment, and it's common to feel [especially in the early months] like you've been breastfeeding and clung to all day long. but even though those early months are difficult, ecological breastfeeding felt right to us, and just worked.

there is more to breastfeeding than health
breast milk changes flavors depending on what you eat! formula is the same flavor, day after day after day. breastmilk really is the perfect food for your infant, in more ways than just the incredible health benefits.

you don't see baby formula prescribed to cancer patients
just sayin'. ;) 

your doctor/pediatrician is not a breastfeeding expert
just don't. go to a lactation consultant. call your local la leche league. talk to a midwife. when river was five months old, our pediatrician [who is a great guy, and totally into holistic medicine!] told me i had to start feeding river iron-fortified rice cereal because at this time, he would start needing more iron than my breast milk could supply. i didn't feel right about it, especially wanting to hold off on introducing solids [just a personal thing], and i talked to an experience mom and leader of a la leche league, who assured me that i didn't have to start feeding river rice cereal yet if i didn't want to, and i could take more iron myself, and he would get it from my milk. 

one friend told me her doctor prescribed a medicine to her that she could not take while breastfeeding. it was easy for the doctor to say, "you'll just to stop breastfeeding for a while," but any woman who breast feeds knows you cannot just stop and then start up again months later. she did some research and found a different medicine she could take while nursing -- and a different doctor.

your newborn doesn't need water
if you are breastfeeding your baby will not be dehydrated! the first milk that comes in when your baby starts to suckle is called foremilk. it is watery and there to quench your baby's thirst. the milk that flows down after they've been eating for a while is called hindmilk. it is thicker, and is your baby's "meal." something that i find absolutely fascinating is the fact that when it is hot outside, your body produces more thin, watery breastmilk to keep your baby hydrated better! 

you will just know
when i was pregnant, i read a few books and websites on breastfeeding because i was so worried i wouldn’t know when river was hungry, when to feed him, when to switch sides, etc. i tried memorizing the routine – “okay…every two hours, one side for ten minutes and then the other side for ten minutes. and i have to make sure he gets both the foremilk and the hind milk. but how will i know how much he’s drinking? how will i know when he’s full?” it was painful. but when he was actually here in my arms and i was feeding him, all my fears went away. after just a few days, i knew his cues, i knew what worked for us, and i knew i wasn’t starving my baby. and i’ve talked to so many women who’ve said the same thing – that you just know. the greatest and most useful parenting manual you have is yourself. you will learn your baby cues and what works for the both of you.

breast really is best
i think it's sad that women are not given the opportunity to be more educated in their choice of food for baby, and it's not our fault. i truly feel that if women knew the health benefits of breastmilk, more women would breastfeed. one mom gave me this information from a post in an online forum: 
Health campaigns and medical literature have traditionally described the "benefits of breastfeeding," comparing health outcomes among breastfed infants against a reference group of formula-fed infants. Although mathematically synonymous with reporting the “risk of not breastfeeding,” this approach implicitly defines formula feeding as the norm. Women responded differently when the same data were presented as the “risk of not breastfeeding,” and they were far more likely to say that they would breastfeed their infants.
even mainstream parenting books will tell you that if you plan on bottle feeding with formula, to budget for more doctor visits. river has been sick only twice, and he is almost a year old. both times were mild illnesses. i am convinced it is because he is breastfed. this is why extended breastfeeding is so great, too. i've heard people say that only babies can benefit from breastfeeding, but honestly, that is just a ridiculous statement and doesn't make any sense! why wouldn't i want to offer this amazing food to my child, when it is so readily available, natural, perfect, and free?

breastmilk is an amazing thing! don't doubt your body or the perfect food that god created JUST for your baby!


  1. I loved his post!I thought I was feeding on demand but now know I ecological breastfeed! My baby is 6 months old and has been sick once. i have had strep and a major flu were nothing stayed in me not even a sip of liquid. Everyone got it and this was 1 week after coming home from the hospital. My daughter was then 4lbs 13 oz. My daughter did not get what we all had even though we slept together and she was with me 23/7 literally (it would have been 24/7 but i did have to put her down while running to the bathroom). I KNOW it was from me breastfeeding since when we all had strep she did not get sick either. The ONE time when she did get sick everyone in our fam was sick EXCEPT me! I feel if I had gotten this cold then she wouldnt have gotten sick! Thanks for this post!!

  2. ecological breastfeeding is great! i'm a big fan.

    wow! that is so amazing about your daughter! my son is almost a year old, and has only been sick twice. i KNOW it's because of the breastmilk. and he is still an avid breastfeeder, so i expect to him to BF for the next couple years. when he caught a stomach bug, my only consolation is that he was breastfeeding. he wouldn't eat any solids, but still wanted to nurse, nurse nurse, and i knew he was getting not only proper nutrition and hydration, but the best medicine around. the more i breastfeed, the more i love it.

  3. Oh I know what you mean! I missed out on the with my first two, since i was young and didn't have the support. My son was preemie born at almost 30 weeks, so I pumped with him for maybe 5 months...it's so not the same. I mean yes, they are getting the best thing for them, but the experience is jusy amazing. I have asked ladies that i knew bf when they stopped it was anywhere between 6 months and 13 months. I was like nooooooo I would ONLY have 6 more months if I did that basically..I don't ever want to stop ( I know I'll have to someday) The moms I have asked say over 1 1/2 is gross....but I want to nurse till SHE weans herself even if till she is 3. How would I nurse in front of them knowing how they feel. I'm not around one person that agrees with me on this besides my husband!

    When your son was sick 2 times I bet you didn't get sick that bad huh? My therory is that if the mom doesnt get sick then the baby who is breastfed has more of a chance getting whatever and the mom that gets whatever the baby doesn't get it or gets a mild case.

    LOL Sorry about my typing. My baby is sleeping/eating in one arm and i'm typing with the other. I have gotten better and better at doing it like this and pretty quick too!

  4. HI Whitney - I was just telling Samantha how refreshing it is to read blogs from young moms that are attuned to their babies and following their instincts to mother their babies the way God intended!

    I like your bullet points on what you don't hear about breastfeeding; what a great idea to share these experiences because I know it would have helped me years ago when I was a new mom! I do have one addendum though and that's to say it isn't that babies don't need to eat right away but colostrum is the perfect food for the newborn, they don't need your milk to come in right away because the colostrum is the food they need in the beginning :-)

    You guys will have to make it out to see us!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and inspiring me!

  5. excellent information. I especially liked your bit on ecological breastfeeding, which I practice. I had no idea how many calories I was burning...but the sheer quantity of food I eat each day and the fact that I continue to lose weight should have tipped me off ;)

  6. sabine, thanks for pointing that out! i knew that, but should have made it more clear.

    lisa, YES! i can eat and eat and eat and still not gain weight. i was losing like crazy and continued to lose weight, and i was seriously getting worried! but i think my body regulated itself because i am not losing weight anymore, but staying pretty steadily at one number. i was thinking, "so *that's* what they mean by breastfeeding helps you lose weight." i know so many moms complain about not losing weight when breastfeeding but they are supplementing with bottles or replacing meals with solids.

  7. I think I was one of those weird people that didn't get any of the benefits of breastfeeding other than my son being nourished of course :)
    I lost like 20 lbs right after having him but then I've been sitting at about 175 for almost 2 years now. I think I should note that I was about 125-130 when I got pregnant, and was over 200 lbs at the end of my pregnancy. Breastfeeding didn't help me lose any weight at all, and it didn't keep my period away either. I'm pretty sure I did all of the right things. Even when we introduced solids he was still mostly breastfeeding so I know it wasn't that. Hmm...

  8. aw jess, i'm so sorry, that's gotta be tough. i was telling a friend who was saying she couldn't lose her baby weight that if pregnancy doesn't change you in one way, it changes you in another. i may have lost the weight, but from gaining and losing so quickly, i have a lot of loose skin around my stomach and thighs that wasn't there before i got pregnant, and my butt went from being cute to being non-existent! lol. and stretchmarks of course - not so much on my stomach, but on my boobs and butt and the back of my legs. they may not be very visible, but i know they will get worse with subsequent pregnancies. i can honestly say though that you look great! we always see the worst in ourselves that others don't see. you don't look 175. i wouldn't have guessed.



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