My pre-pregnancy weight was 50 kg and my BMI was 18.6. After I became pregnant, I lost 2 kg due to morning sickness, resulting from poor appetite during my first trimester, which was made even worse with frequent vomiting (up to 12 times a day) and persistent retching. Despite the weight loss while Baby E was still in my womb, the doctors reassured us describing that a foetus is like a ‘parasite’, that even if weight was lost from the mother, the foetus will still thrive. Nonetheless, the faithful LORD blessed us, Baby E was hemmed in securely within my womb, while nourishing her and nurturing her growth day by day.
By the 25th week of pregnancy, I was spotting a billowing tummy by the day! The dreadful morning sickness has past after I reached 21 weeks, and I am really thankful to the faithful LORD Jesus who has unceasingly loved us and cared for us. When I was plagued by the umpteen times of vomiting and perpetual retching, right in the middle of Canada’s harsh winter, I was at a loss and wondered if God will really deliver me from all these. Behold! Our God is a God who sees us, who with His ever watchful eyes – never once fail to carry us through our times of anguish and ordeal. It is us who fail to recognise how faithful and longsuffering He has been with us. I am awed by His enduring Love and at the same time, amazed by His Majesty.
From 48 kg, my weight gradually topped the chart at a record high at 61 kg the night before I delivered. I managed to gain a total of 13 kg throughout my entire pregnancy. Hee! Thinking back, I am still very proud of myself for being able to gain that much! ;p
The above photos show my baby bump at 28 weeks, 33 weeks, 37 weeks and 38 weeks.
Fast forward 5 months after delivering Baby E, I was back to my pre-pregnancy state, despite consuming up to 4 full meals + 2 to 3 snacks in between per day. My waist circumference is back to 23.5 inches.
There is no secret weight loss method, nor is there any fab technology or diet frenzy that I sought after, nor was there any post-natal massage given, nor the wearing of any abdominal binder or girdle (since I gave birth to Baby E in Canada). I simply breastfeed! coupled with 45 min regular walks at least 4 days a week, which I started only recently after we came back to Singapore, when Baby E was 5 months old. The truth is, we mothers, knew breast milk is the best and the healthiest food for our baby. And we didn’t need any scientist or expert to convince us about the many benefits of breastfeeding for not just our babies, but ourselves too!
While pregnant, our body automatically piles on layers of extra fatty tissue so we’ll have enough fat stores to begin and support breastfeeding post-delivery. Breastfeeding remains to be the best way of losing all the weight we gained during pregnancy easily and safely, through a gradual process. Postpartum women who diet, exercise vigorously, or skip meals may quickly drop pounds, but they may also run the risk of not making enough good quality breast milk required by their baby. So, be patient! There is really no rush in losing weight, considering what is best for our baby! The extra fat we gained during pregnancy will eventually go into the production of breast milk, which our baby needs for their optimal growth and development, particularly for the first 6 months of our baby’ s life.
Breastfeeding – Benefits for Baby
- Breast milk constantly adjusts to meet baby’s changing nutritional needs.
When baby is hungry, he feeds more vigorously to receive more fatty hind milk. When baby is merely thirsty, he feeds leisurely and receives a lower calorie milk that contains more water content. As baby grows older, breast milk changes its composition again accordingly to his nutritional needs at different stages of his growth.
Formula milk, as well as expressed breast milk (EBM) has the same consistency and composition throughout a feeding, and therefore is associated with overweight babies because the only way a thirsty baby can quench his thirst is to drink more!
*Human breast milk is a living substance made by each mother for her individual infant, a process that cannot be duplicated in a factory.
- Breast milk is biologically specific for human babies.
Cow’s milk is meant for calves, and is high in protein and minerals that is needed for rapid muscle and bone growth that is necessary for their survival. Calves can stand up and are running within the first few hours after birth!
In contrast, the human survival organ is the brain. Human milk is high in factors that promote brain growth. This leads to the next benefit for our babies:
- Breastfed babies are more intelligent.
Children who were breastfed were shown to score higher on IQ tests due to the nurturing and beneficial effects of human milk on neurodevelopment.
- Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalisations than formula-fed infants.
Breastmilk contains antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-protozoal and antibodies that pass from a nursing mother to her baby and helps to minimise the occurrence of many conditions, including:
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- Gastrointestinal infections that can lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting
Other factors also help protect a breastfed baby from infection by contributing to the infant’s immune system by increasing the barriers to infection and decreasing the growth of organisms like bacteria and viruses. *Hence, even when a nursing mother is sick, she should continue to breastfeed, because this will help her nursing infant to develop the antibodies against the bug that caused the mother’s illness.
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is less common in breastfed babies
- Breastfed children are at less risk for developing Crohn’s disease and juvenile diabetes.
- Breast milk is easily digested and thus reduces the incidence of constipation in exclusively breastfed babies.
Breast milk protects the lining of the baby’s intestines against infections and damage while it’s developing. Known as the “perfect food” for a baby’s digestive system, breast milk’s components — lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat — are easily digested by a newborn’s immature digestive system.
Exclusively breastfed babies seldom get constipation, unless until solid foods have been introduced after 6 months.
- Breastfeeding helps prepare babies to accept solid foods more readily.
Normal, healthy breastfed babies appear to be quite capable, with the right sort of support from their parents, of managing their own introduction to solid foods.
Because breast milk changes in flavour according to the mother’s diet, breastfeeding prepares the baby for other tastes by exposing them to a variety of flavours through their mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding is the ideal preparation towards self-feeding with solid foods, because breastfed babies feed at their own pace (it is impossible to force-feed them). They balance their own intake of food and fluids by choosing how long each feed should last. This brings us to the next benefit:
- Breastfed babies are at lower risk of obesity later in life.
Because breast milk has the ability to change its composition during a feed, breastfed babies can control how much milk they consume depending on their needs. They consume the right amount and stop feeding once they are full. This in turn helps them to develop healthy eating patterns that may stave off obesity later in life.
- Breastfeeding protects babies from dental and speech problems
Children who were breastfed are less likely to require orthodontic treatment such as braces, due to the unique sucking action required with breastfeeding. They also seem to have better overall dental health than formula-fed children.
Children who were breastfed also need speech therapy less often than those who were bottle-fed.
- Breastfeeding promotes emotional security in the baby, and emotional connection (bonding) between the mother and infant.
Anyone who has ever seen a baby blissfully drifting off to sleep while nursing, or being comforted at the breast during periods of stress, knows that breastfeeding offers much more than nutritional and immunological advantages. Hormones released during breastfeeding have a calming effect on both the nursing mother and her infant.
Furthermore, studies have shown that breastfed babies are more independent as they grow up, because their needs have been met so consistently and effectively while they were infants.
Breastfeeding – Benefits for Mommy
- Breastfeeding protects the nursing mother from developing health problems commonly seen in women.
Nursing mothers have lower rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis.
- Breastfeeding helps the nursing mother regain her pre-pregnancy shape and figure rapidly.
Oxytocin, a hormone that is released during breastfeeding, helps to contract and shrink the uterus of the nursing mother back to its pre-pregnancy state more quickly.
This also reduces the risk of postpartum haemorrhage by minimising blood loss.
- Breastfeeding helps the nursing mother to lose the weight gained during pregnancy faster.
Breastfeeding burns approximately 20 calories per one ounce of milk produced. A nursing mother produces up to about 25 ounces of breast milk daily for her feeding baby. This means she loses 500 calories just by exclusively breastfeeding her baby on demand per day, which translates to faster effortless weight loss even without dieting.
Nonetheless, nursing mothers are advised to consume a well-balanced diet made up of healthy foods to make up for the loss of calories, in order to maintain her milk production supply and to ensure her breast milk is of good quality for the optimal growth and healthy development of her nursing infant. That is why nursing mothers can afford to eat so much (up to 500 calories more per day) yet not gain weight!
- Breast milk offers convenience and flexibility.
Breast milk is always ready and available, always at the perfect right temperature, and doesn’t need to be prepared and measured.
There are no bottles to wash and sterilise, or to carry around during outings, and no expressed breast milk to freeze and thaw, then warmed.
Night feedings are quick, easy and effortless because all you have to do is tuck the baby in bed with you and nurse while you both drift off to sleep!
Traveling is also much easier with a nursing baby – so much less to carry, and without having to worry if the places you are going to have a hot water dispenser, kettle to boil water, or even a microwave to warm the bottled milk.
Even in emergency situations like locking your keys in your car and waiting for automobile assistance, or snow storms in places like Canada where we came back from, breast milk is always immediately available.
- Breastfeeding is emotionally fulfilling and calming
Nursing mothers tend to be very in tune with their baby’s needs, and that increases not only the baby’s security, but also the mother’s self confidence in her mothering ability. Being able to comfort a sick, fussy, or tired baby at the breast is one of the most satisfying things breastfeeding can offer to the nursing mother.
Prolactin, a hormone released during breastfeeding, helps to relax the nursing mother, and produces a calming effect on both mother and child.
- Breastfeeding can be a means for natural child spacing.
Breastfeeding hormones suppress ovulation and delay the return of fertility. Nursing mothers do not menstruate during the period when they are exclusively breastfeeding (no bottles, unrestricted nursing day and night, and no solids before six months). As a result, breastfeeding:
- Helps to protect iron stores in the mother’s bloodstream.
- Is about 99% effective as a birth control method until the child starts to wean
Breastfeeding – Benefits for the Family
- Breastfeeding is free, and helps save money.
Formula costs about $100 to $200 a month depending on the brand of formula milk, baby’s age, baby’s weight, etc. Do note that the hypoallergenic formulas cost even more.
Breastfeeding allows a family to save money because there is no need to buy bottles, nipples, steriliser, breast pumps and it’s accessories (for mothers who express their breast milk).
Since breastfeeding protects the child from getting sick easily, tons of money can be saved from spending on doctor’s visits and/or hospitalisations for common childhood infections, time and paid leaves lost from work to stay home with a sick baby. A family can potentially save a couple of thousand dollars during a baby’s first year of life.
- Everyone sleeps well.
By practicing co-sleeping, baby is tucked in on the same bed with the parents, and feeds when hungry. No one has to wake up, switch on the lights, feed the baby, then wash the bottle and nipple, pump out more EBM to store for next feed, etc.
Co-sleeping has its pros and cons, and is widely debated. As a breastfeeding mom, I’d say it works perfectly for us. If your bedroom is spacious enough, I would recommend getting a bedside bassinet like the one shown in the picture below to enhance the safety of your baby.
- Baby’s stools has a less offensive odour.
Breastfed babies produce stools that are sweet-smelling. In contrast, formula fed babies produce stools that are smellier. Fathers who help change a breastfed baby’s diapers will be happier.
- Breastfeeding allows you to take a break.
It’s almost as if nature provided a feeding system that encourages breastfeeding moms to take care of themselves, even if they are burdened with a million other things they feel they ought to be doing.
It is a bliss to be able to relax, sit down, to nurse and enjoy these precious moments, because babies grow up way too fast.
- Breastfeeding provides a natural form of sex education for your older children.
When siblings see their baby brothers and sisters nursing at their mother’s breast, it provides a natural form of sex education for them. What could set a better example in a society so obsessed with breasts as a form of sex objects than seeing your younger siblings mothered in such a beautiful, natural way?
Breastfeeding – Benefits for the Society
- Breastfeeding is good for the environment.
It involves no use of energy or packaging materials, and no animals, feed, or machinery.
- Breastfeeding is good for employers.
Since artificially fed infants are sick more often and for longer periods than breastfed babies, working mothers who don’t breastfeed miss work more frequently. Breastfeeding mothers who work and are supported in the workplace not only miss work less often to care for sick babies, they also tend to be more loyal employees.
- Artificial feeding costs billions of dollars to governments, health care organisations, and families.
In many countries, babies who aren’t breastfed run the risk of increased mortality due to illness, diluted formula, and water that is contaminated.
- Breastfeeding saves lives.
Breastfeeding is a matter of life and death for many babies – and not just those in third world countries. Worldwide, 10.6 million children under age five die each year, and 13% of those babies could be saved if they were breastfed.
Research has suggested that early intiation of breastfeeding (within the first hour), and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, can save the lives of more than a million babies a year worldwide, and that infants who are not breastfed in the first month of life may be as much as 25 times more likely to die than infants who are exclusively breastfed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die each year because of inappropriate feeding, given the fact that children vulnerable to disease are being fed with artificial breast milk substitutes rather than being naturally breastfed.
Breastfeeding has so many advantages! I highly recommend breastfeeding to all mommies out there! To add, if I had to choose just one advantage of breastfeeding, it would be the cheeky grin I see from my baby halfway through a nursing session, whenever I tickle her by pretending to devour her little fingers. Sometimes, she would unlatch, beams widely at me, and then eagerly latches back on to finish the feeding. That’s a feeling that money just can’t buy.
So mommies! Enjoy the bonding! I’ll end with a quote from doublethink.us.com
“Breastfeed with your heads held high, mamas! This special time only lasts for a short while, and the dedication it takes to breastfeed is certainly worth being proud of!”