Breastfeeding is Awesome! (Usually)
August 1-7, 2014 is world breastfeeding week. We don't often think of things on such a big scale but, if you look at the World Breastfeeding Week website you begin to realize that breastfeeding is so much more than one woman choosing to provide food for one child.
Breastfeeding is taking a step toward eliminating world hunger.
Perhaps finances had nothing to do with your own personal decisions regarding breastfeeding but there are millions (billions?) of women in the world for whom infant formula is difficult or impossible to pay for. The "normalizing" of breastfeeding in America and around the world helps prevent these women from being marginalized in some way. When it is no bigger deal for a woman to nurse her hungry baby or pump breast milk at home, at work, or in other public venues as it is for her to give him a bottle, then we will have removed one major obstacle that stands in the way of breastfeeding success for many new moms. That is removing one major obstacle that may be standing in the way of many babies getting the very best possible nutrition!
Breastfeeding is good for the planet.
Bottle feeding creates waste. Formula cans and scoops, the foil seals that cover them, bottles, nipples, and special brushes for keeping everything clean are all items likely to end up in a landfill. They are often made of plastics which are made from fossil fuels. Formula, whether soy or dairy based, requires a great many resources to create, from both an agricultural and manufacturing standpoint. It has to be shipped to the stores which is more fuel. Breast milk? The moment a baby is born (more or less) it's just... there. No waste. No byproducts. A perfect system of manufacture and delivery from mom to baby.
Breastfeeding creates a healthier society.
Both moms and babies reap various health benefits from nursing. It's not just the nutritional aspect. Everything from postpartum bleeding to breast cancer to the infant's chance of catching a cold is reduced when a mother chooses to nurse, even for a very short amount of time.
Breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult and no woman should feel shamed if she chooses otherwise!
Whoa... did I trip you up there? Read that again, please.
NO woman should feel shamed if she chooses not to breastfeed!
Breastfeeding was a great experience for me. The issues I dealt with were relatively minor and easy to overcome. I had a very supportive spouse and doctor. I had plenty of milk (perhaps a bit too much) and time to nurse my children.
Things don't work out that way for everyone. I can't imagine nursing multiples! Even discounting everything else the time involved would be astonishing.
Some women have to work outside the home. Even if their employer is supportive of their need to pump breast milk, pumping is not the same as nursing. It may affect their supply or the baby might not accept the bottle, or refuse the nipple after having had the bottle.
I could go on and on with a hundred different scenarios, but my point is that I truly believe with a powerful passion, that breastfeeding is best for mother and child and for society and should be supported and promoted in every way possible.
I also believe very deeply that we, as a society, need to keep in mind that every woman and every family is unique and what is good and right for one may not even be a viable option for another. In our zeal to mainstream an excellent thing we must not become so extremist that we demonize a healthy and valid "second option."
Support nursing mothers! Support bottle feeding mothers, too! Because we moms are all working hard to do what's best for our families and, frankly, we're all exhausted and need a little help now and then.
I would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences regarding breastfeeding!
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!