The Wonders of Breastfeeding - for baby and for toddler!





Wonders of breastfeeding

Seeing a child nursing makes one so appreciative of how well the human body is designed so that breastfeeding gives the child nourishment while at the same time fostering the loving bond between the mother and the child.

Baby grabbing the breast lovingly while feeding

Initially you will see this in the way the baby learns to love the breast.  I can remember when my baby first learned to smile.  The very first times she smiled, she did so when she saw the beloved breast being dug out of the shirt for her to feed on!

Breast is the central focal point of your baby's life.  It is NOT just a food source but a source of comfort and security.  It is soft and warm to feel and to baby's mouth, which a bottle certainly isn't.  Baby feels safe and secure at Mommy's breast.  All nursing mothers can vouch for the fact how well breastfeeding calms down a fussy baby.  Breast is baby's natural pacifier and 'security blanket'.

Benefits of breastfeeding
Clearly presented and scientific references given

101 Reasons to breastfeed your child





Bonding Matters: The Chemistry of Attachment
Explains the role of oxytocin and other hormones in bonding.

Breastfeeding is a natural way of bonding with your child.  Nursing and holding the child close causes the brain to release a hormone-like substance called oxytocin.  Its release is especially pronounced with skin-to-skin contact.  This hormone has been called the "love hormone" or the "cuddle hormone" or the "bonding hormone".  It provides a sense of calm and well being and helps the mother and child to bond together.  It is involved in those mothering feelings we experience after giving birth to a child.  (Oxytocin does NOT make breastfeeding a sexual experience as some erroneously believe.)






Moms Who Nurse Toddlers Say It's Just Natural
"Fewer than 12 percent of U.S. mothers are still nursing by the time their children reach age 1" ... "in sharp contrast to other countries, where it's common for children to nurse until they are 3, 4 or even 5. Breast-feeding rates overall are also much higher in other countries than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers and psychologists say the disparity stems from distinctly American attitudes toward breast-feeding and sexuality."



Breastfeed a Toddler - Why on Earth?
Great article by Jack Newman, MD.



Weaning ages in a sample of American women who practice extended breastfeeding
This study found weaning age ranging till 7 years 4 months, the averages being 2 yrs 6 mo, 2 yrs 9 mo, and 3 years (for first, second, third child).







Breastmilk contains a wonderful hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK), which  induces sleepiness, both in the baby and the mother.  It is the easiest method to put your child to sleep.

"Other children form attachments to comfort rags, toys, dummies and even a bottle, objects that can all be mislaid, forgotten or lost. The beauty of breastfeeding is that my daughter's source of comfort is permanently attached to me and, besides, as far as I am concerned, anything that has the ability to pacify a restless child in the evening, and particularly at 2am, is a blessing! She falls asleep within a couple of minutes of latching on, whereas I have heard friends complain about having to spend long periods of time performing bribing rituals in order to get their children to go to sleep."
Are You Still Doing That? by Jan Andersen

Also, while nursing, the child will usually get much more skin-to-skin contact with Mommy - and that can make a difference in how well your baby grows.  Studies show how premature infants grow much better if they are massaged and touched a lot by a human hand, and the same surely applies to babies born at term.

These good points won't cease at 6 months or at one year.  To many people in the US, the idea of a 2-year-old toddler climbing into Mommy's lap and asking to nurse is a foreign and uncomfortable concept.  But to the mothers who do it, breastfeeding a toddler is a natural and healthy part of raising children.  Nursing can help your child during any kind of emotional upsets or family crises, or just simply through teething.  And if we are to believe our children, toddlers (who can talk) invariably appreciate breastfeeding.

"...the two-year-old who, having fallen and then nursed, amply rewarded her mother by saying, 'Thanks, Mom, for nursing me. Bye now, I'll be okay.' "
Why Mothers Nurse Their Children into Toddler-hood

"As for Kevin, he has never been sick (ever...honestly!), is a wonderfully good-natured child, and is independent, loving, affectionate, funny, intelligent and calm. His security in my love for him is absolute, and this extends other facets of his life. He is attached and safe and sees the world as a loving, nurturing place. I believe that the closeness of breastfeeding, from the hour of his birth, fosters this."
By Laurie Flanagan, mom to nursling Kevin, 16 mos
A Toddler Nursing Testimonial

Cue feeding

Breastfeeding works best when it is done "on demand", in other words whenever the baby wants to or shows cues of wishing to nurse.  That can even mean up several times an hour in the beginning.  First of all, infants have very small tummies and breast milk digests quickly, so the smaller the baby, the quicker she will be hungry again.  Also, babies don't nurse for food only but also for comfort and security.  Western culture values independence and visible accomplishments, which is seen also in the parenting advice one often sees: mothers are told to have infants sleep in a separate bed, force them to sleep through the night without nursing, or nurse on schedule.  Wearing/carrying the baby a lot, and valuing the time spent breastfeeding are not emphasized.  But even science has now found evidence that this is not the way to go.

Dr. Hartmann has studied human milk production in detail. In his study the woman with greatest storage capacity could store 3 times as much milk as the woman with least capacity.   This means that a woman with small capacity should naturally nurse more often.  The wonderful part is that your baby will tell when you need to nurse him so you don't really have to worry about how much your breasts can store!


Photo courtesy of Beauty of Breastfeeding Calendar

Also, if you nurse on schedule, you may experience milk supply problems after about 3 months of nursing.  This seems to stem from the fact that in the early months the milk-producing hormone prolactin plays an important role building the milk supply, but after a few months postpartum a different process, autocrine or local control takes over.  It appears that this different process works if you developed adequate prolactin receptors during the first months - and that depends on how often you feed the infant: the more frequent the feeds, the greater the stimulation of receptor development.
See more info on this at Examining the Evidence for Cue feeding of Breastfed Infants by Lisa Marasco, and Jan Barger.

Also it is known that the fat content of human milk varies during a feeding.  The milk that the baby first gets from a full breast has less fat than the 'hindmilk' that he gets towards the end of the feeding.  It is fat that makes one feel satisfied and full after a meal.  If the nursing time is cut short, the baby does not get the fatty hindmilk.  It means baby does not get enough calories for growth, and does not feel satisfied but can be fussy and crying right after nursing.  So just let your baby decide!

  • Feed frequency influences milk fat concentration... and so would appear capable of exerting a direct influence on milk quality.  Overall, the fat concentration of milk taken at feeds would appear to be maximized both by increasing feed frequency and milk volume removal (which itself is a combination of unrestricted feed duration and optimal positioning), yet in Western hospitals it has been common in the past to impose restrictions on both feed frequency and feed duration to the likely detriment of the baby's fat intake. Such restrictions may well have resulted in iatrogenic problems of breastfeeding, which would include fat restriction (resulting in unsettled behavior), symptoms of breast milk insufficiency, and underfeeding.
    Examining the Evidence for Cue feeding of Breastfed Infants by Lisa Marasco and Jan Barger
The No-Cry Sleep Solution
A book by Elizabeth Pantley explaining the exact steps you can take to gently help your baby sleep through the night.



The savings

Have you considered how economical it is to breastfeed?  The estimated saving from buying formula during the first year is between $714 and $2857 depending on the price of infant formula (see Cost benefits of breastfeeding at also has a handy formula cost calculator where you can estimate YOUR cost of formula-feeding your baby for one year.

You might have health insurance, but the nation would save enormous amounts in health care costs if children were breastfed more. It has been estimated that "A minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding were increased from current levels (64 percent in-hospital, 29 percent at 6 months) to those recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (75 and 50 percent)."  That is based solely on the costs of treating three childhood illnesses, which breastfed babies contract much less than formula-fed ones.
See The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis.

But in addition to saving money, maybe we should consider also the over 9000 lives which would be saved annually if all babies in US were breastfed.  A health expert Dr. Linda Folden Palmer has published an examination of the available scientific research comparing the death rates of formula-fed and breastfed babies, and found that the infant mortality rate is approximately DOUBLED by the usage of formula.  Learning about her study might prove to be a rude awakening for the millions of Americans who have embraced the myth that infant formula is a perfectly safe breast milk substitute.








If your nursling twiddling your nipple is bothersome, try a NURSING NECKLACE!

Lori's Nursing Necklaces

Breastfeeding problems

Many pregnant women assume that breastfeeding comes 'naturally' and that it is easy from the first day on, and they they are very disappointed if the reality is different.  The fact is that it can hurt and you may have problems.  STUDY while still pregnant so you know what to expect and where to find help.  In times past when everybody breastfed, a new mother had plenty of other women around her giving her support and advice in this new task.  Today, if your relatives or friends can't 'coach' you with nursing, there is still lots of help available: lactation consultants, La Leche League groups, different online communities and message boards, and several fine websites with lots of information can be reached via the telephone or internet.

Your nipples may be sore in the beginning until your breasts 'get the hang of it' or get sufficiently used to the new situation.  The pain gets gradually less and seems to let up after the first month or so for most women.  To help the pain, make sure baby is latched on so she is not pulling the nipple right or left, up or down, but is facing straight at the breast.  Many find that side-laying is the position where this is easiest to achieve.

So do NOT suffer alone if breastfeeding is problematic, but find help before starting a supplemental bottle and assuming that you just don't have enough milk or that you just can't breastfeed or that your baby just won't learn to latch on, etc.



Controlling or spoiling?

Katherine Dettwyler, The Cultural Context of Breastfeeding

Beyond Toddlerhood:
The Breastfeeding Relationship Continues

by Priscilla Young Colletto

Examining the Evidence for Cue feeding of Breastfed Infants by Lisa Marasco, and Jan Barger

Demand or Schedule Feeding?

Formula-feeding doubles the infant mortality rate by Dr. Linda Folden Palmer.




Resources for breastfeeding information and support

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Disclaimer: Information here is not medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor to replace the advice you could get from a health professional. If you are in doubt, please see a doctor (or several). So if you're in doubt, and especially if you have some other symptoms, please see a doctor.