I’ve had it in my head to do a blog series entitled “5 Reasons”, where I give my own personal reasons for my choices concerning a more natural lifestyle. With August being National Breastfeeding Month, I thought what a better time than now to kick off this series! So, without further ado…
1. It’s Free.
Money is tight. Has been for awhile now, assuming it always will be. I don’t know anyone who has turned down a free meal, and for a newborn who eats upwards of twelve times a day, milk on tap is a no-brainer; I can’t imagine how much we would have spent on formula. Also, when Roo was younger, she struggled with reflux, excessive spit up, and gas. I was able to combat a lot of that with my diet (no dairy, caffeine, or chocolate), but if we were formula feeding, that would have entered into a new realm of “specialty” blends. I know a mom who had to go on WIC just to afford her baby’s pricy formula. Bonus – our hospital gave us a hand-pump for free. I know most insurances cover pumps as well, but I was lucky enough to inherit a hand-me-down from a sister-in-law (even though some say not to share pumps – that may be something you may want to research further). So even if you decide to go back to work or pump, the only cost you have to incur are those milk bags (or apparently they make milk trays!). And at around $10 for a pack of 50, well.. let’s just say our budget can handle that!
2. It’s Easy.
Ok, maybe “easy” isn’t the right word. I thought “convenient”, but some moms would disagree with that, too. I was lucky; Roo had a pretty good latch from the get-go and my milk supply has always been bountiful. Even though I didn’t have to worry about those, even though I was adament about wanting to breastfeed, it was still hard at first. I can still remember that first night home from the hopsital, laying in bed, bawling, trying to get her to eat, thinking, “I can’t do this.” To be honest, it took awhile. I remember thinking to myself, “Isn’t this supposed to be a great bonding experience? Aren’t I supposed to be ENJOYING this?” You are thrown a lot in the beginning – trying to get a baby to latch properly, sleep deprivation, a body recuperating from giving birth, and crazy hormones that have no idea where to go. But once you ride that out — well, let’s just say, I’ve heard a lot of women say, “I wish I wouldn’t have given up so quickly” or “I wish I would have nursed longer”, but I’ve yet to hear one person say “I wish I didn’t breastfeed.” Once I got into the groove, it was great! I love that my milk is always ready to go – I don’t have to have bottles washed and ready (I’m horrible at dishes), I don’t have to measure anything out, I don’t have to make sure anything is at a good temperature. In the middle of the night, I can roll over, pop out a boob, and drift off while she nurses herself back to sleep. Packing our diaper bag is super easy, since her main source of food is easily accessible. We never have to worry about running out or making a dash to the store before it closes. In my opinion, the month or so “learning curve” is a small price to pay for the next year (or more) of easy feedings!
3. It’s Better for Baby.
I never thought I would have to argue the “breastmilk is best” position. To me, it just makes sense – it’s what God gave us! Breastmilk is more easily digestible so breastfed babies have less problems with allergies, reflux, colic, etc. Breastfed babies have stronger immune systems and are less likely to develop allergies as adults. I even read an article that talked about how mothers who have natural immunities after being exposed to certain diseases, like measles, can recieve those antibodies from their mother’s milk and have a built-in immunity (of course, that didn’t apply to a vaccination-induced immunity). A mother’s milk changes as the baby grows, giving baby exactly what he or she needs at each stage of development. Breastmilk is also an amazing healing liquid – we’ve personally used it for baby acne, diaper rash, heat rash, and what was looking like a case of pinkeye but could possibly have just been eye irritation, with great success! Of course, breastmilk won’t guarantee that baby won’t have any allergies whatsoever or won’t ever struggle with gas; however, the benefits are still there. Breastmilk is also much more than just nutrition in that it provides comfort and pain relief for babies; I have been able to calm my daughter after she hits her head – which happens often – by offering a boob. (Another plus – breastfed babies poo has more of a “sweet” smell, so much easier to clean, especially if you choose to cloth diaper like we do!)
4. It’s Better for Mom.
I always knew breastfeeding was the best choice for my daughter, but I never could have dreamed it would be the best choice for me, too! Honestly, I feel like sometimes breastfeeding mamas are treated like martyrs – sacrificing their body for the good of their child. But breastfeeding right away after childbirth can actually help shrink and tighten your uterus back to pre-baby size. It also burns about 400-800 calories a day, so it’s a great way to help lose that baby weight, too! I currently weigh 15 pounds LESS than I did before I got pregnant, a weight I havne’t seen since high school. Since my first three postpartum months were spent either sitting and nursing or sleeping, I know I owe it all to breastfeeding. Another perk – I am currently 9 months postpartum and have yet to have my period (making it a total of 19 months sans Aunt Flo). Although there are instances of women getting pregnant again before that first period returns, I’m feeling pretty comfortable with this natural birth control (now, if I wind up pregnant, remind me I said this, lol!).
5. The Amazing, Incredible, Heart-Fluttering Bond
As I mentioned previously (reason #2), I didn’t exactly enjoy breastfeeding right away. I was tired, I was emotional, I was overwhelmed, and my nipples were a little bit tender. But as we got used to each other and settled into our nursing positions, I started to realize that I really enjoyed this. Breastfeeding actually secretes a hormone called oxytocin, which is the “bonding hormone”: the same hormone that gets released when you cuddle with your significant other or snuggle with your favorite pet. There is nothing more amazing than when your daughter is that right amount of hungry so you get that really amazing latch right off the bat and in the midst of her contentment, she turns her big, blue eyes up and looks right at you. Everything is just right in the world. Everything is perfect. Or, when she’s in a playful, silly mood, so she eats for a little bit, then decidse she’s curious as to how this boobie thing actually works and squishes it down with her pudgy hands, shooting a steam of milk and splattering her face. She looks up at you with this goofy grin and you can’t help but laugh until you cry. Or, when she’s rubbing her eyes and yawning and you know just how tired she is, so despite her stubbornness so you start to nurse her and watch as her eyelids flutter, and before too long she is barely sucking, passed out and sprawled across your lap like a little monkey baby. You wonder how in the world she got so big, remembering the first time you nursed her and you needed a pillow to help prop her up because she was so itty bitty..
Even if numbers one through four didn’t matter.. I would still do it all again.. all for #5.