Breastfeeding is MORE than Milk

 Breastfeeding provides perfect nutrition for infants, but it also does much more! Direct nursing at the breast has a whole host of benefits that are easily overlooked in a culture so focused on the milk. Nutrition is only one aspect of infant feeding that leads to growth and development.

Muscle Mechanics:

  The muscle mechanics involved with nursing facilitate optimal cranial-facial development. You’ve probably heard about importance of “tummy time” for the development of head control. Nursing your baby in a laid back position is tummy time made easy! Breastfeeding also coordinated the right and left hemispheres of the brain because the baby is moved from left to right on the mother’s body. This brain development is critical to other developmental milestones like crawling, walking, and later reading. The developing infant palate, mouth, and skull are shaped by feeding. Feeding at the breast helps the baby achieve normal oral motor function and growth.

Skin to Skin:

    Breastfeeding inherently provides the skin to skin contact newborns need for early neurological development, body temperature regulation, and blood sugar regulation. The mother-baby bonding that occurs while a baby is at the breast is unparalleled. Studies show held babies have lower stress hormones.

Increased Maternal Rest:

    Exclusively breastfed infants who sleep in close proximity to their mother replicate their mother’s REM cycles.  Since their sleep is in sync, the baby is more likely to wake for nursing when the mother is not in a deep sleep state.  Maternal sleep is a crucial part of postpartum recovery. Studies show that breastfeeding moms actually sleep about 45 minutes more per night than formula feeding moms.

Better Maternal and Infant Mood:

    Breastfeeding facilitates the release of the “feel good” hormone oxytocin in the mother during “let down” or milk ejection reflex. Mothers of breastfed babies experience less postpartum depression.  Breastmilk contains multiple hormones that promote happiness and relaxation in infants. Breastfed babies also are less likely to have colic.

Infant Sleep/Wake Cycle Regulation:

    When babies are first born they do not make their own sleep hormones. The newborn receives the sleep hormone melatonin directly from breastmilk. The act of suckling at the breast releases a hormone in the baby called CCK, which makes him or her feel full and sleepy. Nursing to sleep is good for babies!

Protection from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome:

    Frequent night wakings to nurse are a large part of normal infant sleep, and serve as nature’s protection against SIDS. Bottle feeding human milk through the night has not shown to be as protective in preventing SIDS as direct nursing at the breast.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with complementary solids until at least age 1. Continued support is a huge factor in long term EBF success. A prenatal visit with a lactation consultant or lactation counselor is the first step. An LC can answer your questions and assist you with formulating a breastfeeding friendly birth plan.  If you have already had your baby, schedule a home visit or clinic visit with your LC for an in depth consult that can help your family realize all the benefits of breastfeeding.

Placenta Encapsulation: A Traditional Galactagogue

Placentophagy is the mammalian act of the mother consuming the placenta after birth. While there are no clinical trials in humans to prove or disprove the effectiveness of this practice, science shows benefits of placentophagy in other mammals. Mammalian placentas contain high levels of prostaglandin which help the uterus shrink back after birth. Anecdotes suggest that mothers have less bleeding post partum when they consume their placentas. The amount of oxytocin in the placenta is also said to aid in lactation. Some also believe placentophagy  can stave off post partum depression.

If you are looking for a placenta preparing service in the Atlanta Metro Area, please scroll to the bottom for breastfeeding friendly providers.

The following instructions and images are for a raw preparation of the placenta.

Tools:

– cutting board
– large chef’s knife or boning/ fillet knife — at least an 8 inch blade to reduce tearing of the placenta
– encapsulation tray and tamper
00 veggie caps
– food processor, herb grinder, or coffee grinder for pulverizing dried placenta
– wax paper or parchment to cover dry work area and capture spills
– dehydrator that adjusts to temperature under 140 degrees F

This is a 4 Step process
1. slice placenta
2. dehydrate placenta
3. grind placenta
4. fill caps with dried placenta

Dehydrate the placenta to get all the water out, but do not cook it. Dry it under 140 degree F to keep the enzymes and bio-active components intact. This placenta pictured here was eventually dried for 24 hours at 100 degrees F.

This is the placenta “shiny side” up. The membranes are the wrinkly layer around the edges. They gather up on each other. The cord and major vessels here will be cut away. Some save the cord and membranes for homeopathic tinctures or to plant with a tree in the child’s honor.

The cord and membranes have been cut away. The placenta is still shiny side up. This is a 10 inch chef’s knife for size reference. The child who grew with this placenta measured 6lbs 10oz and 18 inches, gestation 39 weeks and 3 days.

This is the “dull side” or the side that was attached to the mother’s uterus. This is the “meat” that will be cut away. The dark red-purple spots are blood clots. Either rinse those away or dehydrate them. They will shrink down considerably.

Half of the “meat” has been filleted off  with the membrane left on the bottom. It is very “spider-webby” and spongy. It is possible to feel with the knife that the tissue is too tough to cut through very well.

The tray with the cut placenta before going into the dehydrator

After dehydration

Note how thin and crisp the pieces are after dehydration. All the water is out.

In the food processor bow is ALL of the dried placenta. Note that not much is left after drying. Next to it is red raspberry leaf that this mother chose to add. The addition of optional herbs is completely up to the mother.

This is the capping station. The pill pamper is at the top. The loader tray at the bottom. This is a baking sheet covered with waxed paper to hold spills. The tray brand is Cap M Quik

These are the loaded pills before getting the top of the cap added. They fluffiness of the red raspberry leaf or other dried herb may prevent of uniform filling.

Finished caps

This placenta with herbs yielded 150 caps total.

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Looking for a certified placenta encapsulator in the Atlanta Metro Area? Check out Melanie at Natural Afterbirth Placenta Services. She is a veteran breastfeeding mother and placenta preparer. Her services include pick up and delivery, in hospital or in home raw smoothie preparation, keepsake placenta printing, placenta chocolate truffles, and both TCM and raw encapsulation methods.

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The information contained here is not intended to treat, diagnose, or prevent any illness. Pregnant and lactating women should always consult with their health care provider before taking any supplements.

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