What One Mother Told Me about Breastmilk Is MAGIC!

One conversation with a stranger can change your life. (When your life is changed, you can change the lives of those around you.)

We have been recently visiting my family back in Czech Republic and took a trip to Český Krumlov (a UNESCO Heritage town, a must visit if you ever get to go in that direction 🙂 . We stayed in a small B&B and one day when my toddler took longer to wake up, I waited for him to finish his breakfast while others went to get ready for the day. We were the only people left in the kitchen aside for the “breakfast lady”. So we started talking. About kids, obviously, that’s what mothers do (here comes a stereotype, but let’s face it… that’s what mothers really do 😉 ). She said she had three kids, but then added something that sounded a little strange. Something along the lines “We had only two kids, but then fate wanted us to have the third one.”

And I had to take a sip of tea, you know, that sip you take when you’re having breakfast with a stranger and they say something you need to replay in your head without them knowing you are hitting the rewind button. That sentence could have meant so many things…

She must have sensed what was going through my mind and asked: “Did you breastfeed?”

“Well, yes, we’re actually still breastfeeding. My family is making fun of me, that I will have to follow my son to his university, so he could get his daily milk!” (Aditya is more than 2,5 years old.)

“I breastfed my first child for 1,5 years, but with the second one I got some nasty infection and had to be on a course of antibiotics, so I had to stop breastfeeding when he was less than one month old. By the time I was off antibiotics, my milk has disappeared,” she continued. (She was about my mother’s age and from what I remember my mother telling me about her pregnancy and the times when I was a toddler, women didn’t have access to breast pumps and other things that would have taken care of the situation now.) Very sadly, she continued her story: “He used to get sick a lot, but it wasn’t suspicious until he was about 3 years old, when doctors diagnosed him with some rare blood disease. He had to get lots of blood transfusions and spent lengthy time in various hospitals, doctors weren’t sure, how long he had to live. When he was almost 5 years old, the doctors lots all hope and told us, he had about a year, maybe a little more to live, but he wouldn’t make it past 7 years of age in the best predictions…”

By this time I was hoping for a happy end, some miracle, if you understand.

“Someone told me, that breast milk might make his condition better. But where to get it from? So me and my husband decided to try for another baby and God granted our wishes and I got pregnant with our third baby. When she was born, I breastfed her and then our 6 year old son, too. It was very weird at times to nurse such a big boy, but I saw it as the only option.”

She nursed her son together with her small daughter for nearly a year, and within that time his blood test were coming back better and better! By the end of that pivotal year, his condition improved so much, that the doctors always took his blood for testing twice – they couldn’t believe in such turn of events and were astonished by the reason behind his betterment. He continued to improve and by the time he was 18 years old, he didn’t need any transfusions and special medical treatment any more. Breast milk was the miracle that saved this mother’s son’s life.

She smiled finishing her story: “He’s in his thirties now and has a family of his own. Sometimes he tells me ‘Mom, I remember how you were breastfeeding me’. It still feels incredible we saved his life by having another baby.”

Amazing Facts About Breastmilk

While surfing the net looking for information about breastfeeding, I found some really interesting information about breast milk (not breastfeeding, just the milk alone). I bet you didn’t know at least some of these:

 

Breast milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is used by the body to manufacture melatonin. Tryptophan levels rise and fall according to maternal circadian rhythms, and when infants consume tryptophan before bedtime, they fall asleep faster. (source)

Macronutrient and energy levels show significant differences between milk samples from mothers of premature infants with different gestational ages, so as to meet different needs of premature infants. (source)

Mama’s body is constantly making the perfect milk for baby.  Milk changes its nutritional profile as baby grows (milk made for a 3 month old is different than for a 9 month old).  Milk can even change day to day—for example, water content may increase during times of hot weather and baby-sickness to provide extra hydration. (source)

The actual make-up of your breast milk changes from feeding to feeding. When your baby first starts feeding, your milk contains mostly lactose and proteins, and is a bluish color. At the end of the feeding, your baby starts drinking hindmilk, which is mostly made up of fat and gives your baby the calories it needs. (source)

Mama’s breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to heat up or cool down baby as needed.  This is one reason skin-to-skin contact in the early days is so crucial. (source)

There has never been a documented case of a baby being allergic to its own mother’s milk. (source)

 

Supporting Brestfeeding on Social Media

Last month one of my Facebook statuses said this:

I do it in a restaurant. On a park bench. On the back seat of the car. First time at church was weird… Of course, I prefer doing it in bed or on the sofa, but I’ve done it even while shopping or on the street.
Breastfeeding.

Lots of “likes” and comments followed!

And it was not to shock, it was just to stir a debate. Let’s support breastfeeding mothers and raise some awareness so it’s not that darn difficult in some public places! Even if you cant’ breastfeed, but want to bring attention to the subject, do something like this, please.

How do you raise awareness of motherhood-connected issues?

Do We Need To Make Breastfeeding Glamorous To Be Allowed To Nurse In Public?

WARNING: You might see photos of BREASTfeeding in this post!

You might have seen this photo of “another day in the office” of supermodel Gisele Bundchen before. Or maybe not. All I can say is I don’t look this glamorous when I’m nursing my son. And to be honest, I can’t even ask myself what was the last time I have had a manicure, it’s more like ‘what was the last time I even cut my nails:)’ type of a question.
So when I saw this picture I thought: “B**ch! NOT FAIR!”

 

And I wasn’t the only one. The photo stirred quite a debate – a Twitter war with potty-mouth messages and an Instagram storm of copycat pictures.
And then I got it. This is good! We should really do whatever it takes to have people talk about breastfeeding in public. Why is it still a taboo and why is it so darn difficult that it discourages young mothers to continue nursing their babies?

Please understand. I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding and you will read many posts about it in the future. But I also know some mothers have very serious reasons why they don’t or can’t breastfeed – but attacks from perfect strangers should not be among the reasons.

Lately, a few airlines got some bad press for not allowing women breastfeed during flight. Bad bad advertisement. Public took notice and nursing in public seemed to have lots of defenders. Well, media take any reason to turn the heat on – this way or the other. But unfortunately in reality, a common mother still has to jump through lots of hoops (with a baby on her breast). So as much as seeing Gisele nursing at work (if you call it that:) might have outraged some, we need to talk about breastfeeding conditions, be it in a restaurant, public park or (dare I?) at work…

I’d like you to have as much information as I can give you to make your breastfeeding journey a success! So here are some pointers:

  • La Leche League – BIG resource of information wherever in the world you are. You can find a lactation specialist who will give you support an help for free. You can also look up many questions by topic.
  • Did you know that the law is on your side? If you think you are discriminated as a breastfeeding mother, find what the law says and how to protect yourself! Find your state’s law and learn about the federal law: laws
  • If you’re pumping at work, you are protected too!
  • Medela offers not only a line of high quality pumps, but also offers support and answers here.

I’ll be revisiting the topic with tips and tricks I stumble upon during my internet combing and library raids.

Me and you will be keeping it real. And if you see a too-good-to-be-true picture of a breastfeeding supermodel mum, don’t be mad. Because also thanks to them, our small voices can get stronger!