Breastfeeding: Selfish or Selfless?

When
you examine the arguments for breastfeeding, most people seem to
believe that it’s the best thing a woman can do for her children. 
Proponents point to the nutritional content of breastmilk, the immunity
it provides children and the ways in which breast-fed babies benefit in
mind, body and spirit.  But after breast-feeding Ayla for nine months
(with no signs of slowing down), I no longer do it just for her. 
Breastfeeding is a selfish act too.  I benefit at least as much, if not
more, than my infant daughter.

Women who breastfeed for at
least six months reduce their risk of contracting breast cancer.  I
don’t want to die of cancer.  And if nursing offers me some immunity,
I’ll gladly breastfeed for a decade or two. I exercise, drink water,
avoid fatty foods…and nurse.  I'm thankful breastfeeding helps me live
longer.

Women who breast-feed also lose weight more quickly and
are more likely to keep it off.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to
fit into my pre-maternity clothes less than six months after giving
birth.  I’ve lost all the weight I gained during pregnancy except now
my boobs are a little bigger.  And what could be better than a trim
waistline and full breasts?  I have nursing to thank for my healthy
mommy bod.

I also save money because there is no need for
formula, bottles and bottle cleaners in the house.  By my calculations,
those dollars accrue to me and can be spent on shopping or taking a
vacation. I have already booked holidays and bought a new bikini with
my breastfeeding savings. Cha-ching!

Nursing not only saves
money, but it is also a sleep aid.   I get more sleep because I roll
over and offer the breast instead of having to get up and make a
bottle.  And I also benefit from the sleep hormones that are secreted
while nursing—I sleep more hours and more deeply when I breastfeed. 
Breastfeeding is better than Ambien or a fifth of brandy when it's time
for some shut-eye.

But there’s more.  I decided to nurse Ayla
until she no longer wants my milk. Which in turn led to the decision to
work from home rather than returning to work full-time.  For the first
time in my life, I work just enough hours to feel fulfilled and earn a
living but not so many that I resent my job.  And I am no longer
chasing the mythical work/life balance; I work and play in equal
measure and it feels great.  I credit my newfound healthy work ethic to
nursing.

I’ll say it again: I’m not a martyr for breastfeeding my child.  On the contrary, it’s me
who benefits the most.  I’m happy, slim, well-rested, less stressed and
healthier because I breastfeed. So ladies, take out your breasts and
let down your milk.  Because I finally understand why nursing is such a
beautiful thing...for us.

What do you say? Is breastfeeding selfless or selfish?

 

By Taz Tagore, author of Labor of Love blog

http://laboroflove.typepad.com/laboroflove/ 

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