Some of the things I’ve heard over and over throughout the years: ‘Feeding is hard because you know, it’s just the colostrum’, or ‘I’m expressing as well as feeding, because I need to help my milk to come in faster’. These phrases are so cringy (i.e., cringe worthy) as my tween daughter would say. Why are they so cringy? Because there is absolutely no reason a mother needs to rush through this period, nor does the colostrum lack anything. Ok, ok, I know you’ve heard it all before, and you are educated now to have an understanding of how colostrum works and how babies receiving this liquid gold benefit. Perhaps you’ve even been asked to express it antenatally to ensure baby has some as soon as s/he reaches the outside world.
However, the notion remains that somehow colostrum is there to keep us in bed or on the sofa all day long while our bundle of love suckles for insane amounts of time. Well, consider that perhaps this is one nature’s intentions, almost as if to say, ‘Well you better get used to it because this is how things are going to be, on some level, for the rest of your parenting experience, which will also be for the rest of your life’. Still somehow the colostrum is seen as an annoyance because feeding will become so much easier once the milk is in. How will the feeding become so vastly different once the milk is there? This is the question I ask, and the one that I want new mothers to consider. When the milk is there, is it more visible? Yes, very likely. Do some mothers then have a sense of their let down (the milk beginning to flow)? Yes, some mothers do. So, what in fact exactly is the problem?
My theory is this – new mothers still, for whatever reason, lack the confidence that their colostrum is everything their baby needs at that moment, and possibly doubt that they have anything in their breasts at all. There you go. Are formula companies happy about this? Of course, they are. The lack of confidence in a mother’s ability to feed her child is one the formula companies mercilessly exploit. So I’m not here writing a medical paper nor do I even want to talk about the uncanny benefits of colostrum, but I am here to rant a bit about our thought process concerning how our bodies work to feed our babies.
Our bodies work very well. So well, in fact, that the human race has survived till now. Formula has only been available on the open market for the last 50-60 years. Think about it. If the colostrum and milk lacked in abundance or quality, the human race would have died out many millennia ago. One Chinese friend of mine told me that she has often heard that women once could produce enough to feed their babies, but this is not the case any longer. Wait! What? So, as humans continue to break every physical feat there is, we no longer have any milk, or not enough of it? Crazy. This is the (not so) subtle persuasion of formula companies that have infiltrated our subconscious on so many levels.
As we enter a new year and a new decade, it is time to reclaim our rights as mothers – to feed our babies with confidence, knowing where to find solid support. We must be able to enjoy breastfeeding from the start, confident that our body is working well, and mindful of the signs if there is any question that it is not.