Nature’s created a readily available means to nourish your baby: They’re your breasts. As organic this or that is touted and held up as superior, I’m distressed to see something truly organic viewed with so much anxiety or out-and-out hostility.
Mothers have always breastfed babies
The expression “Necessity is the mother of invention“ fits into the breastfeeding vs baby formula stand-off. Baby formula was created in the late 1800s to address a need. Before that, wet nurses breastfed newborn orphans or babies of mothers who couldn’t produce enough breast milk. This practice of using wet nurses decreased though with an increased awareness of possible disease transmission. In any event, formula use was originally intended for only a small group of babies.
Big Business Sees a Market…
Doctors started touting formula as the better, improved, modern way of feeding baby. Society looked on breastfeeding as something only the poor and/or uneducated did.
Of course ALL mothers want to do the very best for their child. When up against such an intense pro-formula, marketing campaign what else were they to think? You guessed it: Formula was the only choice for good mothers. Enter corporate profit-takers.
Interestingly, no objective, scientific proof was ever offered
For many decades, the formula industry had a solid lock on what was considered appropriate for feeding infants. Even today, corporations continue to take in large profits. When new mothers turned away from breastfeeding, the practice did, indeed, seem to be a thing of the past. Consequently, as the years went by, the support system and knowledge base, that had been passed on from grandmother to mother, generation after generation, also risked being lost.
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 growth factors to 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 a higher hemoglobin reading
● Reduces the risks of ovarian and breast cancer
● Protects against osteoporosis
● Burns calories, making it easier for you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight
In addition, breastfeeding is convenient and always available!
To me, the best part of breastfeeding is the bonding. I treasured my special connection that came from the close, physical contact between my baby and me.
Okay I think we can agree, breastfeeding is the natural, and intended way, for mothers to feed their babies. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or without problems. Most women can breastfeed given time and support. New mothers need to keep in mind breastfeeding takes practice, just like doing anything new for the first time! And ALL mothers, especially breastfeeding mothers, need support. Support emotionally, physically, nutritionally to name a few. Read preparing for mamahood for ideas.
Even for experienced mothers, each baby has their own preferences. I experienced this first-hand with my own children. 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’re having a tough time it doesn’t mean you can’t breastfeed. Reach out for guidance and support. Hospital medical staff, doulas or lactation specialists, breastfeeding support groups like the LaLecha League and your baby’s pediatrician are all there to offer assistance.
Do you work outside the home? If you do, I want to remind you of your rights! Washington State law protects pregnant women from discrimination, but it also supports working mothers. WithInReach discusses your rights as a pregnant, working woman. Check LegalVoice for more information and resources for help.
It’s in everyone’s best interest; yours, babies, and society’s to have healthy babies. Healthy babies grow into healthy children. Knowledge is power and power is choice. Women have choices. Educate yourself. Decide what’s best for you, your baby and family.
Yours in Play!