Few experiences are as beautiful and transformative as breastfeeding. It’s not just about nourishment; it’s about building the foundation for a lifetime of health and emotional connection. As a holistic dentist dedicated to infant oral and facial development, I’m here to guide you through the profound importance of breastfeeding – not only for your baby’s dental and airway health but also for your emotional well-being.
(Please note this blog post contains an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission when you purchase through my link. But don’t worry, I only tell you about the things I love and use myself!)
The Dental and Airway Perspective
Breastfeeding isn’t just about providing essential nutrients; it has a profound ability to positively influence your baby’s oral and facial development. Here’s how:
- Jaw Development: When your baby latches onto your breast, the muscles and tissues in their mouth are engaged in a way that encourages proper jaw development. This helps prevent issues like malocclusion (misalignment of teeth) in the future.
- Palate Formation: The act of breastfeeding helps shape your baby’s palate, ensuring it develops optimally. A well-formed palate is essential for proper breathing, swallowing, and even speech development.
- Airway Health: Believe it or not, breastfeeding plays a significant role in maintaining your baby’s airway health. As your baby breastfeeds, their tongue naturally rests against the roof of their mouth, preventing potential airway obstructions that could lead to sleep apnea and other issues later in life.
The Emotional Health of Mothers
Breastfeeding is a profound connection between you and your baby, but it’s not just about physical nourishment. Your emotional well-being as a mother is equally vital. Here’s why:
- Oxytocin Release: Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin, often called the “love hormone.” This hormone fosters feelings of attachment and affection between you and your baby, promoting a strong emotional bond.
- Reduced Stress: The act of breastfeeding has a calming effect on both you and your baby. The skin-to-skin contact and the soothing rhythm can reduce stress levels, helping you navigate the challenges of motherhood with greater ease.
- Maternal Confidence: Successfully breastfeeding can boost your self-confidence as a mother. Knowing that you’re providing the best start in life for your child can empower you and reinforce your intuition as a parent.
Babies were designed to breastfeed- period.
As a new mother, I lacked the knowledge that breastfeeding was crucial to my daughter’s oral and airway formation (and hello– I’m a dentist!). After a pediatrician told me my daughter and I “weren’t meant to breastfeed,” I convinced myself that “fed is best,” only to witness her struggle with the heartbreaking consequences of a tongue-tie as she got older. The truth is, fed is the bare minimum. And it’s not about mom-shaming or guilt. Breastfeeding follows the natural order of the universe, and when a mother or baby is struggling, we are doing that dyad a disservice by saying “fed is best.”
Want to give your baby the best chance at breathing, sleeping, speaking, and living well? Invest in breastfeeding. Make it a priority. Here are the things I wish I had invested in when I was struggling:
- Lactation Consultants: Consider consulting with a lactation specialist. They can provide personalized guidance and support tailored to your unique needs.
- Wear Your Baby: Baby wearing has helped my last three breastfeeding journeys immensely! Keeping my babies extra close has helped me pick up on their feeding cues before they become fussy, which helps me stay cool, calm, and oxytocin-filled! My go-to wrap has always been Solly Baby, because the fabric is so soft with just the right amount of stretch, and I love the way their lovely patterns make me feel like I’m simply wearing a beautiful accessory. Click here and get 10% off when you order your new wrap!
- Comfortable Nursing Bras and Pillows: Invest in comfortable nursing bras and pillows to enhance your comfort during breastfeeding sessions.
- Hydration and Nutrition: Stay well-hydrated and maintain a nutritious diet to support your milk production and overall health.
- Breast Pump: A breast pump can be a valuable tool, allowing you to express milk for times when you can’t breastfeed directly.
- Nipple Cream: Nipple creams can help soothe and prevent soreness, ensuring a comfortable breastfeeding experience.
- Supportive Community: Join local or online breastfeeding support groups to connect with other mothers who can share their experiences and advice.
Check out all of my suggested products on my “shop my home” page right here!
Breastfeeding is a holistic journey that goes beyond simply providing nutrition. It shapes your baby’s oral and facial development, contributes to their airway health, and strengthens the emotional bond between you and your child. Embrace the simplicity and beauty of this journey, trust your instincts as a mother, and remember that support is always available to help you nurture the future with confidence and love.
As you embark on this remarkable journey of motherhood, remember my manifesto: Let’s get back to our roots and watch our families bloom. Here’s to confident, healthy, and intuitive motherhood!