A'udhu billahi mina sh-shaytaanir-rajeem! Bismillah...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How we benefited from breastfeeding?

I received a personal message from a reader, a mom of 3 months old baby, inquiring how we benefitted from exclusive 6 months breastfeeding- my personal experience.

Well, it's been more than 2 years since I quit nursing. Hence, this email dragged me back to those first 6 months of mommyhood. I have nursed L for two years, out of it 6 initial months were exclusive nursing time (no water, no finger food etc). With no second thought, I would say it was 100% beneficial for us. My older post on nursing is available here.

From my personal experience, I would like to note down some points:

With the exclusive 6 months nursing: 

Benefits we saw in L: 

1) Healthy baby:
We had a healthy baby with a good immune system in place. We never gave her any medicines (other than vaccines) and never fell ill anytime in that period. (Ma Sha Allah - As He Willed)

2) Stable and climate resistant: We had travelled a lot during initial 6 months, even a long car journey of 1000 kms in Indian roads. Her body easily acquainted with the changes. She has been very resistant to climate changes etc.

3) No digestion/mucus issues: Over the first 6 months, she never had any cough/mucus/fever/cold/tummy aches/constipations/diarrhea problems.

4) Easy to get a schedule up: Nursing on regular intervals had helped Liya to get a proper schedule in her life, right from the beginning. Slowly, she had developed peeing and pooping on a specific time, since her feeding interval were more or like fixed and that helped us to get her start on potty training early - at 6 months!

According to the feeding cycle, she had developed a sleeping pattern which was very helpful for me as a working mother.

5) No stinky diapers: The breastfed poop was less stinky, loose and easy to clean up than a weaned baby's one, for sure. Nursing babies will be having a thinner poop. Another interesting thing is that this was the reason L herself wanted to sit on a potty. Since I started weaning her, with her poop turning thicker than "exclusive BF time" she was quite uncomfortable. She was ready to sit with support and we just did a try with potty training and she loved her "not so sticky" poop time.

6) Exclusive mommy-baby moments: I personally loved to cuddle her and nurse quite often for exclusive 6 months. I used to talk to her a lot during those moments, though I knew she hardly understood anything. She had begun speaking at 8- 9 months. I want to believe that our tete-a-tete moments, sticking on to the warmth of mom would have emotionally inspired her to start talking. [Have heard childcare experts asking parents to talk to children during pregnancy itself which help them develop good language skills.]

8) No fever after vaccinations: We never had fever followed by vaccinations. I didn't know that nursing reduces chances of having post vaccination temp hike, until I read a lactation expert's article recently.


There were so many myths I was told upon deciding to wean baby only after 6 months. These are some of them.

1) Late weaned babies are picky eaters. They would have learned the taste of mum's milk and tend to  reject solids. The earlier you wean the higher chances of having a better eating child.

[This was untrue. I parent a girl who ate/eats almost everything I gave. Recently, I read an article which said that BF babies are LESS likely to be picky or fussy eaters since moms milk would be having varieties of flavors (according to moms diet) and kids love flavors and varieties. This was true in our case.]

2) Late weaned babies are thinner and so won't be healthy.

[ I think this is typical Indian belief that thin means unhealthy. I agree that Liya looked slightly thinner than early weaned babies of her age, but her weight was always "ideal for age" or little extra, till the date. She has been taller for her age. The main point is that she has been miraculously healthy. Alhamdulillah - Thank God!]

3) Their milestones and development stage are achieved comparatively slower since they don't get "extra" nutrients. 

[This was wrong. She achieved all her developmental milestones either early or on time. She had teethed at 6 months, started talking words at 8-9 months, sat on her own at 6 months, at 8 months she was able to stand on her own holding on to something, at one she walked etc. All other milestones were also hit with no delay. ]

4) They don't get much fluid during summer. So, at least feed water before 6 months.

[When I consulted with my doc, she said this is wrong. Mums milk contains 90% water and if BF properly, babies need no extra fluid until 6 months.]

5) After they turn 4 months, if they see us eating, they will want to eat too. It's not good keeping little one wanting to eat and we eat. 

[Believe, I was told this! But, my daughter do not have any such hatred towards me. In fact, she is very attached to me. She can not live a day without seeing her mom. Umpteen times in a day she says me "I love my sweet mummy" and hugs all over my body. I think it's foolishness to think that infants keep grudge and hatred like we adults do. ] 

6) If the baby moves his/her lips or tongue or chew when they see you eating that means that mums milk is not enough for them.

[In fact, at 4 months, L had suddenly developed a strange habit- chewing often and demanding more feedings. Though I tried to nurse her thinking that she is hungry, she was not interested in BM but just got hold of it and stayed calm. I was confused at this and some elders suggested that I should start weaning. I had almost made up my mind for weaning and just thought of taking doc's opinion before getting started. My doc said "NO". She pulled out all recent studies on the benefit of exclusive BF and taught me that what L is showing is a sign of some insecurity. So, baby wants to ensure that mommy is closer always. She asked to recheck if there happened anything which would have psychically affected her, even if it was minor. She was right! I had just moved to Hyderabad from my home place, where she had so many to play with and carry her. I had my in laws for a month in Hyd and they never moved out from her bed even for a sec during that time. Ever since they left, mommy and baby were left alone through the day in a big, calm and quiet apartment. Once I understood that I started spending more time with her and she adjusted in couple of days. ]

Benefits to mommy:

These are the benefits I find in myself as mommy.

1) Controllable body weight: I weighed 45 kg (99 pounds) before getting preggy. It shot up to 62 kg in 40 weeks. However, I lost weight so easily and reached an optimum level. During year 1 of BF, I was weighing 54kg, and never crossed the ideal weight boarder for my age.

2) The healthy diet plan: During my BF period, I was very strict about my diet. Especially the exclusive BF period, I completely stayed away from all junk foods and unhealthy stuffs. I rarely ate outside. I had a proper diet plan in place to ensure that my baby gets all nutrients. Loads of fruits, veggies, green leaves, milk, eggs, fluids etc were properly planned in my diet. I had reduced the consumption of salt/sugar/coffee/spicy food etc.

3) Goodbye to extra worries: I did not have to worry about her food during my travels in the first 6 months. No worries about "getting fresh baby food, sterilizing bottles/spoons" etc. when you are just out of home. I did not have to carry loads of food and drinks. We only had diapers and change cloths in baby bag.

4) No worries about cholesterol, sugar etc:  I had a sever chest pain when Liya was just 4-5 months old. My doctor did not even want to check my cholesterol or sugar level (I did not have any previous history of the same) since I was on exclusive breastfeeding. He straight away told me that what I have is muscle pain.

5) Satisfaction/ emotionally fulfilling:  It gave me immense pleasure and true satisfaction as a mother. I never had to regret about denying the rights of my baby despite having all desirable conditions and abundant milk production in place. I am glad and proud!

About Longterm Nursing:

I understand that not every mom will get a chance to nurse babies exclusively 6 months and up to 2 years, for many reasons. Luckily, Alhamdulillah, I was one of those moms who got a chance and I am thankful. [Though I am a working mum, my work conditions were also very desirable to satisfy my priorities as a mum.]

1. L was NOT ONLY healthy, stable and immune to diseases during initial 6 months, Alhamdulillah, she has been the same throughout her life so far. She is now 4 years and 3 months old and not yet exposed to medications etc. Even though she gets cough, cold and fever, she either settles down naturally or with my quick home remedies. I want to believe that long term nursing has done wonders on her. [L had a healthy diet plan after 6 months, where BF was fitted in without affecting her need for solids.]

2. During those two years, we used to travel extensively and I never had to worry about her food even if she refuse to eat. The BM supply had ensured that she didn't have to stay in an empty stomach, and sufficient nutrient supply to keep her healthy. During long air travels, especially the long air journeys to USA, she got enough supply of fluids.

3. I was told that it's difficult to stop nursing if we BF for a longer than one year. This was wrong. In this post, I have explained how we said goodbye to nursing.

There are so many expert opinions on the benefit of breast milk, especially exclusive 6 months nursing. However, whatever I have noted above are my personal observations and learnings as a mum. Everything I said above are purely experienced and measured by me. There are so many benefits experts count in, since those are not measurable by myself, I did not make any note of those.  Read some of them herehere and here

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