Nature created a readily available means to nourish infants: Mothers’ breasts. As organic this or that is touted and held up as superior, it’s distressing to me to see something truly organic being viewed with so much anxiety or out-and-out hostility.
Mothers have always breastfed their babies.
Baby formula was created in the late 1800s to address a need. Before that wet nurses fed newborn orphans or babies of mothers who couldn’t produce enough breast milk. The practice of using wet nurses decreased though with an increased awareness to possible disease transmission. In any event, formula use was originally intended for only a small group of babies.
Big Business Sees a Market…
Enter potential corporate profit. Soon formula was touted as the better, improved, modern way of feeding a baby. Society looked on breastfeeding as relegated to the uneducated, poor and/or both. ALL mothers want to do the very best for their child. Up against an intense pro-formula, marketing campaign what else were they to think? Formula was the only choice good mothers would choose!
Interestingly, no objective, scientific proof was ever offered.
And for many decades, the formula industry had a solid lock on what was considered appropriate for feeding infants. As new mothers turned away from breastfeeding, the practice did, indeed, seem to be a thing of the past. Years went by and the support system, and knowledge base, that had been passed on from grandmother to mother, generation after generation was at risk of being lost too.
THE FACTS: Breastfeeding is good for…
Your baby because breast milk:
● Is easier to digest
● Has all the nutrients your baby needs to be healthy
● Includes all the growth factors that’ll insure the best development of your baby’s organs
● Protects your baby from many diseases and/or infections such as:
-ear infections, diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, and other bacterial/viral infections
● May help to protect against SIDS
● Could help to protect your baby later against obesity, asthma, diabetes, eczema and some cancers
You because it:
● Releases hormones that promote your maternal instinct
● Delays the return of your menstrual cycles allowing for more iron content in your body
● Reduces the risks of ovarian and breast cancer
● Protects against osteoporosis
● Burns calories, making it easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight
In addition, breastfeeding is convenient and always available!
To me, the best part, is the special bond that develops from the close, physical contact between baby and mother.
Yes, it’s natural and the intended way for a mother to feed her child. Does that mean it’s always easy and without problems? No. Most women are able to breastfeed given time and support. For new mothers breastfeeding takes practice, just like doing anything new for the first time.
Even for experienced mothers, each child has their own preferences. My own family is a good example. The ferociousness of a piranha came to mind when my tiny, baby daughter took to my breast. She liked to nurse a minimum half hour on each side. If she could fall asleep for a nap latched-on all the better. So this is what I expected when my son came along years later. He had different ideas! Rather than 30 minutes per breast, he fed 10 maybe 15 minutes max on each side and called it good. With such short nursing sessions, he never fell asleep. Each kiddo is unique!
It Takes A Village…
So don’t be too hard on yourself! If you are having some difficulty it doesn’t mean you weren’t meant to breastfeed. Look for some guidance and support. Hospital medical staff, doulas and/or lactation specialists, breastfeeding support groups like the LaLecha League and your child’s pediatrician can all offer assistance.
Do you work outside the home? Washington State law protects pregnant women from discrimination, but it also supports working mothers. Know your rights are WithInReach. Look to LegalVoice for more information and resources.
It’s in everyone’s best interest; yours, your baby’s, and society’s to have healthy babies that grow into healthy children. Knowledge is power; power is choice. Women have choices. Educate yourself. Decide what’s best for you, your baby and your family.
Yours in Play!