My heart aches for those moms who aren’t able to experience breastfeeding for whatever reason, and I respect any woman’s choice not to do it as well (it’s definitely hard work and I was very close to stopping several times during the first few weeks). Many benefits of breastfeeding are well stated in this article, which was actually written by a man. The United States has some of the worst policies for breastfeeding, and consequentially ridiculously low breastfeeding success rates. Sure there are laws that give women the right to breastfeed in public, but why aren’t there laws that require longer paid maternity leave (i.e. the type Europe has) and laws that protect a women’s right to pump at work? I’ve heard multiple people say that breastfeeding needs to stop when the baby can ask for it. Well, now babies as young as 6 months can use baby sign language to ask for it, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding the first 6 months and breastfeeding in combination with other food for the first year and however longer after that both mom and baby enjoy it. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of a babies life. I’m sorry, but I think they know more about how long breastfeeding should last than those people who say to give it up when your baby can ask for it.
I’m not sure I’ll ever breastfeed in public without a cover, just based on my personal comfort level, but I do not think anyone should be offended when a woman does. But normalizing breastfeeding is only the first step. I would know hardly anything about breastfeeding if it wasn’t for a Facebook support group a high school friend invited me join. In fact, I probably would have supplemented with formula from the beginning or followed a schedule if I hadn’t learned from this group how terrible both of those are for establishing supply, especially in the first 6-8 weeks. Now it seems like common knowledge to me that any time you supply formula or withhold feeding your hungry baby, you’re telling your body to produce less milk, although I know many moms out there are not aware of these facts. Did anyone in pregnancy or postpartum tell me this? Yes one person – the amazing lactation consultant I had at the hospital. However, I’m assuming most new moms don’t get the chance to work with such a person, as I know at the hospital I gave birth at you only saw the lactation consultant if you requested to.
So I hope I can do at least a little part in encouraging more women to at least attempt breastfeeding. And so here are my 10 reasons why breastfeeding is awesome:
1. The Absolute Best Nutrition for your Baby.
This is undisputed. Breast milk gives your babies specifically formulated antibodies to strengthen their immune system, meaning they are less likely to catch all those illnesses floating around, especially if you catch one yourself. Your body amazingly produces milk that is perfect for your baby – having just the right amount of fat, protein, etc in it. Breast milk is easier on your babies stomach, and breastfed babies are less likely to have asthma, diabetes, and obesity. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of SIDS to your baby, as well as several other diseases.
2. Cuddles, Cuddles, and More Cuddles.
Do you like cuddling? No wait – do you like cuddling precious little adorable babies who are your offspring and smell delicious? If the answer to this is yes, and if it isn’t you have serious problems, then you want to try breastfeeding.
3. Multitasking is Possible.
Guess what I’m doing right now? You bet! I pretty much only blog or post on social media websites while baby girl is nursing. Can you do that while bottle feeding? Nope! Know what else I can do while breastfeeding? Pant my nails, watch TV, text, make phone calls… the list is endless.
Now, breastfeeding isn’t convenient for everyone. Like I said, some women struggle immensely with breastfeeding, and some have to pump for various reasons including work, and pumping sucks. But, if you are blessed to be able to breastfeed with no issues it is really convenient. No having to walk to the kitchen to prepare a bottle in the middle of the night and then feed said bottle to your baby. No worrying about whether the bottle it is the right temperature or not. No worrying about measuring how much to feed baby. Instead you just feed baby wherever you are knowing that it is the perfect temperature.
You can lay in bed while you feed your baby. No one is going to blame you if you doze off a little as well, especially if it’s a middle of the night feeding.
6. Your Baby May End Up Smarter Because of it.
Studies have shown that breastfed babies have higher IQ’s when they get older than their counterparts. Read more about the studies here.
7. Breastfeeding Burns Calories.
Breastfeeding burns around 500 calories a day, making it easier for breastfeeding moms to shed that baby weight. Of course, you do have to eat more to keep supply up, but I personally enjoy eating more and not feeling guilty about it.
8. It Saves You Money.
This is perhaps why my husband pushed breastfeeding on me when I didn’t want to do it. But, he had a good point. You save so much money by breastfeeding. Formula is expensive – especially if you want the good organic formula! Just think of what you can do with the money you are going to save… get your hair done, go on a vacation, get a massage… you get the idea.
9. Breastfeeding is Great for YOUR Health.
Never discount the importance of your health! Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce your chance of developing postpartum depression, and help you get over the baby blues faster. Studies show that moms who breastfeed have a lower chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes, Ovarian Cancer, and Breast Cancer. This is a pretty big deal.
By breastfeeding you have access to an awesome community of other breastfeeding moms. Through online support groups, as well as local La Leche League meetings, being a breastfeeding mom is a great way to meet other moms with similar interests.
What did I leave out on my list and what do you enjoy most?