Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breastfeeding is definitely not basic!


The past two days my fellow MSU dietetic interns and I were required to attend a “Breastfeeding Basics” class held by WIC.  Honestly, I thought it was extremely interesting but I think I might be more overwhelmed now than before!  We started out discussing the attitudes about breastfeeding.  While I was not breastfed (and I do rag on my mother for not doing so), many in my family have breastfed so it is not a new concept to me.  In fact both of my nephews and my niece were breastfed for some time.  I also hope that when it’s my turn to start having children, that I am blessed enough to be able to breastfeed too.  But not everyone has the same belief and attitude about breastfeeding as I do.  I know that there are people who are very uncomfortable with it, especially about the whole “breastfeeding in public” thing.  I mean seriously, if the woman is doing it discreetly then don’t have a hissy fit about it. Just my opinion. So no one better give me trouble when it’s me Winking smile .  Newsflash – my breast is not some sexual object when I’m feeding my child. Grow up.

Our second topic of discussion was the consequences of NOT breastfeeding.  This one is huge.  Breast milk and formula are not equal. Not even close.  Here’s a quote from the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding 2011: “There are health risks associated with formula feeding and early weaning from breastfeeding.”  You read that right – “RISKS.”  In fact, infants who are NOT BREASTFED are at INCREASED risk for:

  • Otitis Media (Ear Infections)
  • Gastroenteritis (Diarrhea)
  • Severe lower respiratory infections
  • Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Childhood obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Childhood Leukemia
  • SIDS
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)

But it’s not just baby who gets the short end of the stick.  Mothers who do NOT BREASTFEED are at INCREASED risk for:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Postpartum depression

There are also non-health related consequences.  Formula feeding means more laundry stains, more bottles and nipples to wash, and more prep time.  There’s increased environmental waste (formula canisters end up in landfills + transportation costs).  The big hitter is the economic impact.  Formula costs about $1200-$1500 per year not including more doctor’s visits, prescriptions, hospitalizations, and wages lost due to staying home with a sick baby.  You know how much you hear how obesity costs our health care system?  It’s not alone.  “If 90% of US families could breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the US would save $13 billion per year

We also learned about the anatomy and physiology surrounding breastfeeding.  I won’t go into too much detail about this one but basically a huge hormone party going on.  And we learned the importance of the first milk produced, Colostrum.  It’s low in volume but has high levels of antibodies for the baby, more protein and vitamins and less fat and carbohydrates than mature milk, and it coats the baby’s gut to keep out proteins that are too large and may cause allergies.  After the baby is born, the hormones prolactin and oxytocin help to produce mature milk by day 3 to 5.  I guess  a lot of mother’s get nervous when they are not producing a high volume of milk as soon as the baby is born.  This is actually not a big deal, the colostrum is enough for baby in the very beginning.  On Day 1, the baby’s stomach can only hold 5-7ml (size of a shooter marble).  By Day 3 it increases to 22-27ml (size of a ping pong ball) and by Day 10 it increases to 60-81ml (size of a large chicken egg).  We got these things called belly balls for examples.


If you’re worried about milk production, frequent feedings in the first few days helps milk production increase.  Some risk factors that may delay production include:

  • Cesarean delivery
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mothers in their 40s
  • Retained placental fragments

Using a breast pump might be a good idea to keep the milk flowing as well.

Another part of the class was about mother and baby together.  Here we talked about the importance of skin-to-skin.  I had no idea about this prior to taking this class.  Apparently if the mother holds her baby skin-to-skin after giving birth it

  • Warms baby
  • Decreases pain and stress
  • Helps immune system
  • Reduces infant crying
  • Improves attachment and breastfeeding

Baby has been attached to Mommy for 9 months, they don’t want to be abruptly taken away and passed around with all sorts of weird smells and sounds and scary surroundings.  This is something I plan on demanding when I have children.  Nurse you are not taking my baby away to complete your little checklist of to-do’s.  I’m going to hold my baby close to me, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Another one of the big things that I got from this training was that baby knows what its doing.  They have an inborn ability to know how to breastfeed.  It’s pretty amazing if you think about it.  However, a good latch is the key to success here and mommy can help baby with that.  There are different positions and techniques so you just have to figure out what works best for you and baby together.

The last thing I’ll discuss is our review of nutrition.  Our breast milk is unique and the composition is constantly changing. If you compare breast milk with formula the differences are pretty vast.

Breast Milk


















Growth Factors












For optimal nutrition, mommy should take prenatal vitamins.  However those who are very restrictive vegetarians, have Crohn’s disease or other malabsorption disorders, or have a history of gastric bypass/bariatric surgery, should see a dietitian.  Baby is going to need some supplemental nutrition as well.  When they are first born they will get a shot of vitamin K.  Those babies who are exclusively breastfed should also be given 400 IU of vitamin D per day because it is highly likely that mommy is deficient and already has a low supply.  Fluoride may need to be supplemented in babies older than 6 months if it is not in the water supply and Iron will be in solid foods starting at 6 months of age.

There is a lot more information but I think this post is long enough and you get the picture.

While I am neither pregnant nor breastfeeding, I’d say my nutrition was pretty good the past two days.  The Kellogg Center in East Lansing has some really good food!  For breakfasts I had oatmeal with berries, extra fruit on the side (pineapple and grapes), a couple eggs, and coffee.  I was too hungry for pictures at that point in the morning!  Lunches were very colorful and delicious as well.

DAY 1 – Caeser Salad, White Bean Salad, & Sundried Tomato, Zucchini, & Goat Cheese Pizza. (Dessert unpictured: a mini éclair!)


DAY 2 – Caprese Salad, Caeser Salad, Veggie Mix (mostly zucchini), Penne w/ spinach, & Garlic bread (Dessert unpictured: tiramisu!)


It’s okay that I had dessert at lunch two days in a row. Not only did I go to the gym, I also danced my booty off with the other interns on Tuesday night. Oh the memories!!! Open-mouthed smile I’m sure those pictures will be up on Facebook later hahaha


Hope you found some of the information today to be as interesting as I thought it was.  *Fingers crossed* that I have no problems breastfeeding when I have children!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you've been doing quite a lot of learning! I knew that Colostrum came before the milk, but I had no idea its benefits!