I don’t believe that human milk passes antibodies to infectious factors to which the mother and child have been exposed which then help prevent the child from becoming sick with a host of illnesses. This is a commonly held belief, I know. It’s the main reason many want to feed human milk to their babies. Yet primates’ maternal antibodies are passed primarily through the placenta, and the antibodies that flow through human milk do act against gastrointestinal pathogens–the antibodies, however, don’t flow into the bloodstream of breastfed children.
At first I was pretty resistant to learning about the immunity myth; when I read that linked article in pregnancy I recall being quite incensed that some man would seek to diminish the import of breastfeeding. But it’s no good to go around incorrectly understanding the benefits of human milk for human babies. My belief is that human milk is preferable because it is uniquely designed to suit the needs of human babies, and my milk is uniquely designed to suit the needs of my baby.
That’s not the only reason I am so into breastfeeding. A friend asked me about this the other day–why the single-minded obsession? Especially since some of my original reasons for wanting to breastfeed–easy, convenient, free, no math, cozy bonding with baby–have totally been overturned by the reality of exclusively pumping. Part of it is that pumping is now my hobby, and making milk my goal; I am not ready yet to pursue less nude interests, having invested myself in this course. That, oddly, has very little to do with my actual baby. Mainly I just want her to have the most perfectly-matched food available (one of my informative Medela collection bottles says that breastfeeding is nature’s perfect food, and I agree). I take infant nutrition seriously, and for me, at this point, pumping isn’t such a big problem. I see it as: it’s so little time out of my life in the long run for such a great benefit to Baby.
You may be interested to read this article on “The Breastfeeding Conspiracy” on Babble.
Here are some interesting perspectives on breastfeeding difficulties from current and former pumpers (okay, I’m beginning to think that EVERYONE with breastfeeding difficulties pumps at some point or another):
“Breastfeeding ‘advice‘” from Jenn’s Journal.
“Milk Duds” from Uncommon Nonsense.
“Boobalicious” archives from Babyfruit.
“EPing” from My Thinking Chair.
The nursing gains we made have disappeared. That seems to be the way of it oftentimes. Now when I get out my breast, or even just get her into position, Baby wails as if to say, “Why are you torturing me so?” I had been trying every morning, when she’s in her best mood, but didn’t today. I was starting to get frustrated with her, and so it’s not worth it to me to try for a while. I’ve made my peace with exclusively pumping and now we’re more than halfway to my goal of ten months (more on that later) and it’s gone so quickly; I can easily imagine making it all the way there, barring some sort of accident with my pump, about which I worry.
In happy news, my supply is doing very nice things. I have more than quadrupled it from the time my milk came in. I still don’t make quite enough, but only have to supplement with about 4 oz a day of formula so I’m pleased with that. I’ll write soon a big list of all the supply-boosting tips that have worked for me. The biggest one has been time and patience–I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had accepted the dire predictions of the hospital nurses and had given up altogether early on.