Aktualisiert: 16. Aug 2019
When we decided to give up our house to live in a caravan with Baby Paul Thor I was asked multiple times if I planned to keep breastfeeding him on our travels – after all he was “already” a year old.
My breastfeeding start with Baby Paul Thor was painful. Horrible, really. It wasn’t until he turned three months old that nursing started to become a relaxing experience. Every day ever since has been pain-free. Enjoyable. A unique intimacy. So why stop now?
I was on maternity leave. I was actually getting paid to take care of my baby. Then we decided to hit the road, to go on a caravan adventure.
On the road, we expect Baby Paul Thor to explore the environment more than ever. To wallow in it. Get dirty in it. Taste it. And while this happens, we will continue moving, changing our surroundings, altering our culinary habits, and will be exposed to many wonderful people (and all the not so wonderful germs they carry)… To get to the point: this is the last moment I want to give up the superpowers imbued to every breastfeeding mom.
Breastmilk protects my baby from infections - How that happens is incredible
What is just an inconvenience for an adult, such as diarrhea, can have a deadly outcome for a non-breastfed baby. In fact, diarrhea is the second leading cause of death in children under five.
But breastmilk also protects Baby Paul Thor from everyday infections. As a breastfeeding mom my body continuously scans my environment for germs. If someone sneezes next to me, or if I myself have a virus, my body produces antibodies against that specific pathogen and shares those antibodies through my breastmilk. And if it happens the other way around, if Baby Paul Thor gets sick first, my breast tissue absorbs some of his saliva as he’s nursing, analyses it for the exact germs and enriches my breastmilk with the appropriate antibodies.
Just like my husband’s indispensable e-book in our limited caravan space, giving him any book he wants when he wants it, my breasts carry natural medicine available à volonté for Baby Paul Thor. All I need to do for my breasts to cook a magical potion of goodness is… breastfeed.
Breastmilk helps with my baby's waking up and sleeping pattern
Baby Paul Thor is a very active baby. He always has been. All the more thrilled I am to know that my breastmilk adapts to the time of the day. In the morning breastmilk contains specific substances that help both mommy and baby to wake up. In the evenings and at night, on the other hand, breastmilk releases the sleeping hormone melatonin, which helps Baby Paul Thor doze off, aiding my quest for well-deserved rest from my caravan baby.
Breastmilk boosts my baby’s brain – the longer I breastfeed, the better
Baby Paul Thor’s age as we moved into the caravan was no valid reason for me to stop nursing him. For tens of millions of years, babies were breastfed until they weaned themselves off – usually between age five and seven. A scandal, you might think? Perhaps in our modern society in which moms deliberately wean their babies much earlier. But is it a coincidence that it takes about six years for our immune systems to fully develop? Or that higher cognitive achievements and breastfeeding past infancy go hand in hand?
My breasts have superpowers. Deciding when they aren’t so super will hopefully be a decision that will come naturally and mutually.
The list of benefits from breastmilk, not just for babies but also for breastfeeding moms goes on and on. If you are having a difficult time in your nursing start, or just want to learn more, you can find inspiration in Leslie Burby’s “101 reasons to breastfeed your child”. It motivated me when I was sitting in the dark with bleeding nipples and an uncooperative Baby Paul Thor.