Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week. I didn’t know much about breastfeeding until after I had Olive. I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed her but even up until her birth I knew very little about why it’s so much better. To be honest I still probably have only scratched the surface. But in celebration of this wonderful week I wanted to share some reasons why I breastfeed Olive and why we’re still going strong.
I know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices but I do, wholeheartedly, believe that breastfeeding is, in fact, the best choice for mother and baby.
1. Breastfeeding is natural, the way it’s meant to be. Did you know that breast milk contains many many things that formula does not? Formula continues to try to match the benefits of breastmilk and their advertising makes it seem like its exactly the same but the truth is.. it’s not. Did you know that breastmilk grows along with baby to deliver exactly what baby needs at any given time? It’s amazing.
2. Breastfeeding is free. Maybe this seems silly to you but it’s true. As a work from home mom I don’t work that often. We live on a relatively strict budget. Canisters of formula are certainly not doable for us. It’s mind boggling to me how much is spent on formula. It’s also mind boggling to me that due to so much miseducation and completely absurd and overpowering advertising and coercion from formula companies many low income women formula feed. But just so I leave little to be argued there can be costs associated with breastfeeding – breast pads for the leaky mom, nursing bras, tanks, and/or shirts, a pump if you’re working or need one (I was luckily to be gifted a hand me down), bottles, breast milk storage bags, etc. But the cost of those things pails in comparison to formula. And formula needs bottles anyway.. many more than breastfeeding.
3. Breastfeeding allows for so much closeness between mom and baby. know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices. Do you have a wiggly baby? A little one who refuses to cuddle or lay down with you? Chances are if that’s the case and you breastfeed you can still enjoy relaxing cose time with your little one. It’s truly an amazing feeling.
4. Breastfeeding protects a baby from harmful things such as viruses and bacteria. Of course breastfed babies still get sick but they certainly get sick less often than formula fed babies. Olive has actually not really been sick yet. She’s had a night or two with a runny nose or minor fever but not a single full blow cold. I pass on my immunity to various things to her through my breast milk. It is recommended that babies who do not receive vaccinations be breastfed until at least the age of two. Why? Because breast milk protects them from so many things. Another reason that it so deeply saddens me to see low income mothers not breastfeeding as well as so many mothers in third world countries where diseases run rampant. Unfortunately things like witchcraft and absurd advertising strategies from companies like Nestle have screwed up the perception of breastfeeding in many places.
5. Breastfeeding is recommended until AT LEAST the age of two. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age and breastfeeding along with eating healthy foods until at least the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends “extended” breastfeeding. So why do people think its so strange to breastfeed an “older” child. Why do we even call it “extended” breastfeeding?
6. Breast milk is all natural. You can probably call it local, too. Maybe even stretch it and call it organic? I suppose it depends on what mom consumes, but still, my point is that it is natural. Have you peeked at formula ingredients lately? You know what’s in there? Corn syrup, for one. I avoid that. I don’t let Olive eat that. Why would I have possibly let her consume that as a baby? In my opinion there is not a single positive thing to be said about corn syrup. Except that, I suppose, it’s an avenue for our country to use the extreme surplus of corn that we seem to have. It’s true, there are organic and more natural formulas out there, but that further complicates #2 from above.
7. Long term health benefits for baby. Breastfeeding has been proven to contribue to a lifetime of good health. Having been breastfed as a baby correlates directly to a lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower rates of obesity, and lower rates of type-2 diabetes in adulthood. It also seems that people who were breastfed have a higher IQ than those who were not.
8. Convenience. Save for the initial difficultly some women may face or simply getting use to it when starting to breastfeed your first baby, breastfeeding is pretty darn easy. No need to heat a bottle in the middle of the night, no need to pack bottles, and water, and formula for trips away from home or long vacations. Simply bring yourself and you’re set.
9. Peace of mind. Like most little ones Olive goes through ups and downs when it comes to food consumption. She is currently going through a phase of wanting to be fed by me (which is odd because we’ve never really spoon fed her… ever). That isn’t always easy or quite possible with what I’ve prepared for a meal. Or sometimes she doesn’t seem to like or be interested in anything I offer. Or I forgot to pack snacks for our day away from home. None of that matters because I know she is getting exactly what she needs via breast milk. I don’t need to be concerned about how much protein is on her plate, if she ate her vegetables, etc. Of course I like to see her eat a well rounded meal but I don’t have to be stressed about it. And I don’t have to be pushy or anxious about her food.. which contribues to a much better food relationship for her.
10. Breastfeeding is comforting. A fussy baby, a sick baby, a tired baby, a teething baby, an overstimulated baby… can all find comfort in breastfeeding. The close contact with mom, smelling her, touching her skin, feeling her warmth, is often exactly what a baby needs. Baby may fight it, it may not always be the answer, but often it is. In the very first hours of life baby’s body learns so much from mom’s during their first breastfeeding experiences. Baby’s body learns to regulated it’s temperature and breathing and begins building a close and trusting relationship with mom. It truly is beautiful.
I think I’ll stop there.. that’s 10 things. 10 reasons that I breastfeed Olive and plan to continue until she is done.
Again, I don’t mean to offend… I simply want to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and possibly share some information with you that maybe you didn’t already know. I think it’s perfectly capable for people to turn out just fine without breastfeeding – in fact I wasn’t breastfed.
If you’re a new mom or a mom to be do your research and find some support. Breastfeeding came easily to me but that isn’t the case for everyone. Seek out help if you need it and don’t be afraid. Find the right sources. Some doctors will push formula. It’s amazing and so discouraging but true. Others will make you feel like you’re failing because your baby is gaining weight slowly or your baby is taking a long time to learn to latch. Push through it – your body was meant to breastfeed.
If you’re already a mom and you feel like you failed in the past or didn’t have the right information or didn’t care to breastfeed.. don’t look back on the past and get discouraged. Breastfeed your next child. Done having children? Think about what you can do for your children today that will help them excel as amazing people today and tomorrow. And support other women in their choice to breastfeed.
Still don’t want to breastfeed? That’s okay, too.
I’ll leave you with a photo of Olive appearing to latch on to my leg.
Why don’t you link up your story? And go read some more! :)