BABIES BY DESIGN
What was his life like during pregnancy?
For one thing: how often is he feeding during pregnancy? Continuously! How can we think that he could go 3-4 hours without feeding after he’s born? That would be something like fasting for us!
How can we resent what the baby really needs just because it doesn’t fit our frame of reference?
Babies are transitioning from intrauterine to extrauterine life. Not in an instant but gradually! “The baby doesn’t know he’s born,” as one midwife put it. It’s separation of mother and baby that hinders breastfeeding! How is the baby going to get to the breast without being there? Or without a willing, yielded mother? The baby needs proximity. Our practices can hinder breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is in itself not problematic – it’s what we do to it that breaks it, it isn’t broken.
Breastfeeding is like pregnancy – it involves proximity, frequency, and time.
So think of your baby’s existence like what is happening to him right now in pregnancy – continuously fed, held, sleeping patterns involve short cycles (not like ours’!), he is being constantly cared for now (though largely without much for you to do about it at this point!).
Think about it in this frame of reference when you think about what he will need when he is born. How will that impact your life? How will that impact sleep?
The baby’s stomach is very small when he is born – this is designed in concert with what will be going on in your breasts with his milk supply:
Babies stomachs are tiny at birth and grow daily. Mother’s colostrum output is small at birth, and milk supply increases daily. The infant’s stomach is about 5-7 ml at birth, and grows to 15-17 ml day 2, then about 27-30 ml day 3. That corresponds to the mother’s milk output. By day 3, the mother’s milk drastically changes to be much more in volume, at which day also the infant’s stomach tissue drastically relaxes to accommodate this increase in fluid. This is the day commonly known as “the milk coming in”, but we know that milk production actually starts when the placenta is delivered, just increases very gradually until this point. The small amounts the baby is given means his stomach won’t be overfilled, so he won’t throw up and risk aspirating the fluid and getting pneumonia. The amount of milk he is given matches his stomach size. How could this happen by chance?
The thick nature of colostrum, baby’s first milk. These first three days the baby is learning to coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing. Colostrum is thick and sticky, not fluid in nature. So it is less likely to be spit up and with less volume less likely to be aspirated.
Colostrum is very concentrated – it is low in fluid. It is a protection for the baby as outlined above, that it is low in fluid. The fact that it is concentrated means the baby gets a lot of substance while accommodating his small stomach size. But what about his fluid needs? Babies are born with a layer of fluid under their skin, edema. They naturally have this water-retention when they are born. They use up these fluid stores over the next 3-5 days while their stomach is growing in size and their mother’s milk is growing in volume. After these few days, then the mother’s milk supplies all the needed fluid when the baby’s stomach can accommodate it. Until then, they use up this fluid store and correspondingly lose the water weight. This accounts for the weight loss that is natural and healthy those first few days. It is water weight, not body mass, that is lost. Indeed, their body continues to grow. Thjs water weight can be as high as 10% of their birth weight. If the mother had IVs in labor, that can over-hydrate the baby and add another 2 ½ % to the baby’s weight, and exaggerate the apparent “weight loss.” Babies “regain” birth weight by 2 weeks, although we know it is body mass they gain, they are actually bigger by 2 weeks, just not with water weight.
Did you know that there are only two substances in nature whose sole purpose is food? Milk and honey. What do you think that tells us about their design and purpose? They are meant for food! Not for keeping or withholding for some other purpose…
Babies are designed with specially made oral structures: mouth and nose made for breastfeeding!
The oral cavity of an infant is vary shallow – allows a soft squishy structure like a breast! – and the soft palate slopes down to join the epiglottis to form a separate air chamber from the fluids chamber – so decreased risk of aspirating. The milk is channeled away from the windpipe into the esophagus, so they can breathe and swallow at the same time. Try it – you can’t! Breastfeeding can be a leisurely activity they can enjoy without compromising breathing. It must have been meant for more than food.
By 6 months, the oral cavity deepens and the soft palate rises to reveal the uvula and is no longer connected to the epiglottis. This only happens in humans. All other mammals and infants lack the capacity to do something that humans acquire after infancy. … The oral cavity deepens to allow large volumes of air to flow which is necessary for…speech! Not to many talking dogs. Also allows passage of more sizable foods and they learn to swallow without breathing.
Breastfeeding should have no anxiety attached: just like we talked about birth being normal, so is breastfeeding – it’s just “normal feeding”! We are not anxious about what is normal!
Infancy may seem like a demanding stage, but it’s really that becoming a mother is such a change in life.
The most useful way to think of the infancy period is like an extension of pregnancy.
Throw out your old ideas of having a schedule, and what makes you think you have had a productive day. You have a new job now, with a different view of productivity – measured in how your baby is growing and developing, than in tasks accomplished.
It will suit your new life best to not look for ease or comfort, or the old lifestyle oriented around yourself. There is a beautiful selflessness we can develop through motherhood. Our character grows with our child!
The schedule will return – at around 6 months. This is due to baby’s sleep patterns and being past the risk period for SIDS. These are built-in protective mechanisms! It is because we have messed with them that there have been problems. Co-sleeping is actually protective against SIDS.
The first six months is like an external pregnancy – the 4th and 5th trimesters. Maturationally, functionally, neurologically, human infants are born much more immature than other animal babies – giraffe babies are dumped on the ground and struggle to their feet to find the teat. They get teeth earlier and learn to find food and live independently much sooner. SIDS is thought to be a function of an immature arousal mechanism of the brain in response to a life threatening situation – lack of oxygen, arrhythmia, gagging, etc.
So the frequent need for contact (crying without the ability to comfort themselves) frequent need for feeding (rapid growth rate, liquid diet rapidly digested) is protective.
Until 4-6 months, infants begin sleep periods in active sleep state, easily aroused – then after 4-6 months, they will have quiet sleep rather than active sleep state initially, so regular naps can happen, and a bedtime with sleeping most of the night. After the risk periods for SIDS is over. See all the pieces fit together as part of a plan.