As human beings we tend to be very definite about the way we feel about things. Especially when we are working toward an important goal we often exert tremendous pressure on ourselves and if we can’t achieve it to “perfection” we end up giving up on the idea altogether. The expressions “all or nothing” and “it’s either black or white” immediately come to mind. But often times in life, some is better than none, and this is especially true when it comes to breastfeeding.
I am fortunate to work with many committed mothers who are striving to give their babies “perfection”. They want to exclusively breastfeed or when they return to work they want to provide their babies with only expressed breastmilk. While obviously this is the “gold standard” and if it’s a realistic goal should be encouraged, this blog is here to present the value and importance of providing babies with breastmilk even if it means only for some feeds. While moms are understandably disappointed when they cannot produce sufficient milk to provide for all their baby’s needs they should feel very encouraged regarding whatever amount they can provide. Consider the following information:
Your breastmilk is rich in antibodies. Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SigA) is an antibody that your body makes to fight the germs you are exposed to in real time. The Antibody travels to the breastmilk and provides your baby, who is likely being exposed to the same germs, with additional protection. This is a wondrous gift your body continues to give until the day you wean your child. Some mothers have related that they have been told by their pediatricians that there aren’t any advantages or health benefits to breastfeeding their baby after the age of one year. In fact, there is some research that indicates that even as little as 50 ml of breastmilk per day may help prevent disease in breastfed babies. Additionally, our body recognizes the importance of this protection and increases the concentration of SigA as our milk supply begins to decrease. In this way the protection remains strong even as we begin the weaning process. In addition to antibodies, human milk is composed of other live components including various types of hormones, enzymes, and blood cells that make a mother’s milk truly unique and irreplaceable.
And of course, from a purely emotional standpoint, one can often tell just how much a baby truly cherishes the breastfeeding experience from those lingering early morning and bedtime feeds that often continue for quite some time even after all other feeds have been eliminated. So if you are a mom faced with the decision to provide your baby with “all or nothing” just remember some is better than none with regards to breastfeeding. It’s also a great way to embody an important life lesson: we lose out on accomplishing great things when we are only satisfied with “perfection”.