There’s nothing worse than holding onto intense guilt which eats away at your emotions and creates stress in the body. For me, being a new mumma in 2010 seemed to highlight these emotions in so many different ways. I felt guilty when my daughter didn’t get “enough” sleep. I felt guilty when I gave her antibiotics because I feared what would happen if I didn’t heed the doctor’s instructions. Worst of all I felt guilty and a complete failure because I wasn’t able to breastfeed my daughter for as long as I had intended to.
Lacey was born with a high-arch palette which, in a nut shell, meant that my nipple couldn’t get to the soft part of her palette but instead was consistently crushed against the hard part of her palette. This meant very painful (um excruciating) breastfeeding at EVERY SINGLE FEED and over time deformed nipples.
After 4 months of persevering (I am a little stubborn), the pain got the better of me and I resorted to expressing day and night. Milk supply was never my problem so I got used to the idea of being permanently hooked up to a machine and feeling like a milking cow if it meant she could continue to have my milk. Over time though and after 6 bouts of mastitis and antibiotic treatment enough was enough, I was exhausted, depleted and fading away. The antibiotics had stripped me bare and I had little energy left to even enjoy my bubba. I had to call it a day. Man oh man the guilt!!!
Over time I learnt to accept that I hadn’t been able to reach the 1 year mark (that was my initial goal) and made peace with it.
6 years have passed and my little bubba is now a beautiful princess despite having experienced regular gut issues from a young age.
With my growing knowledge of gut health though, I often find myself pondering “I wonder if her gut health would have been better if I had been able to breastfeed for longer?”.
You see breast milk, along with a natural birth where the baby picks up the mother’s bacteria from the birth canal, is one of the major factors which determines how the bacterial flora will develop in a newborn baby. Not only does a baby pick up beneficial bacteria from its mother’s skin, research has now revealed that breast milk contains more than 700 species of bacteria, all of which help to colonise its gut bacteria which determines future health and susceptibility to disease. The more bacteria they are exposed to at birth and through their early years, the less risks there are for developing common childhood issues like asthma, ADHD, autism, diabetes and obesity…..it’s scientifically proven!
In fact a group of Spanish scientists traced the bacterial microbiota in breast milk which revealed that not only did it contain more than 700 different species of bacteria, but these species are linked to a better overall immune system and healthier children. Therefore concluding that breast milk is a sure way to decrease a child’s risk of allergies and autoimmune diseases.
Wowza’s…..so what is a mumma supposed to do if, for whatever reason, they cannot breast feed???
Good question…..if only I’d known this information 6 years ago.
Nowadays, you can source milk donors through reputable milk banks and groups and (while I know it’s not quite the same as your own breast milk) I still believe this is a better option than turning to synthetic formulas that are missing crucial probiotics. I know it may sound weird and hard to get your head around but this actually used to be a common thing for mothers to do back in the good ole days where mothers quite happily nursed other mother’s babies if they were sick or unable to. I think I would have gone down that route if I had known about the significance of breast milk rather than turning to synthetic formulas…..have you found yourself in this predicament? What would you do? I’d love to hear your stories.