"If it seems like I’m always breastfeeding, it’s because I am," the 29-year-old model wrote on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself nursing her son Sylvester Apollo Bear, whom she shares with husband Sebastian Bear-McClard. Ratajkowski gave birth on March 8, on "the most surreal, beautiful, and love-filled morning of my life," as she captioned her Instagram birth photo which depicted her nursing.
And this month, the I Feel Pretty star shared another photo of herself breastfeeding her infant, while wearing two gold chains bearing the words "Mama" and "Sylvester."
Even when women are healthy, willing or able to breastfeed, the task is time-consuming and rarely simple. This week, Hilary Duff admitted that breastfeeding her newborn daughter Mae has been "really hard" adding, "It seems like every 20 minutes I'm feeding the baby." And while Mandy Moore says breastfeeding her infant son Gus has been "relatively easy," it's not pain-free (nursing can hurt due to soreness, breast engorgement and other reasons). And due to an oversupply of milk, Moore uses a breast pump for "relief."
There are several factors that explain why breastfeeding takes time, according to Jennifer Meyers, a certified nurse midwife and Mayo Clinic spokesperson. "Unlike formula-fed babies who typically eat on a schedule, breastfed infants eat on demand," she tells Yahoo Life. "In other words, whenever they want."
And because breast milk is so easily digested, nursing infants tend to get hungry in shorter intervals, says Meyers. "For example, a formula-fed baby may eat four or five times per day, whereas a breastfed baby may eat eight or nine times per day." The frequent meals, she says, could be why formula-fed babies tend to sleep through the night better than their breastfed counterparts.
Breastfed babies also take longer to finish their meals, as bottle nipples are designed for faster or slower flow. "A baby might drink a 4-ounce bottle in ten minutes, whereas one might take 30 minutes to finish the same amount on the breast," says Meyers.
But no matter how parents feed their babies, there is always meal prep. "If you're bottle feeding, you need to shop for formula or pump breast milk, then prepare bottles and wash them afterward," says Meyers. And breastfeeding moms might encounter latching or medical problems that delay or prolong nursing.
It's why Meyers often hears new mothers say, "I feel like a human dairy machine."
Meyers encourages mothers to avoid the "all or nothing" ethos which can make them feel powerless. "Feeding is a two-way relationship," whether it's exclusively through breastmilk, formula or a combination of both. "Both baby and mom have needs."
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