Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why I Breastfeed

I've been putting off this topic because it seems highly personal, but I think it's time to share the benefits I've found in breastfeeding.

First, the most obvious reason is that it is the best food for my baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year. Breast milk offers more nutrients and antibodies than can be found in formula, and is uniquely adjusted to the needs of your baby in every moment; your body responds to baby's needs every time he eats.

Second, we save money. Formula is expensive! Breastfeeding just requires me to eat a few extra calories, which I'll happily do. In spite of my extra caloric intake, it also helps me to lose my baby weight. Gotta love that.

And then there are the environmental reasons. Formula comes in packaging, which must be thrown away, which means more junk in landfills. In addition, the packaging and formula require energy to be created. Using formula requires bottles, nipples, liners, etc. that must be produced, washed, and eventually thrown away. (To be fair, as a breastfeeding and pumping mom, I use bottles as well, but some women have lifestyles that allow them to exclusively breastfeed.) Finally, using formula requires fuel; a vehicle must get it to the store, and then you have to take your vehicle to go get it.

Breastfeeding is not without its difficulties. In my first weeks home with my newborn, a friend said to me "I don't know why you wouldn't breastfeed." I thought to myself, "I do." The first three weeks were incredibly difficult. My little (big) guy wanted to eat every 1-2 hours; my entire world had shifted to feeding the hungry boy. It was exhausting. But I also recall a very distinct moment when he was three weeks old and had finally started falling into a routine. He had just woken up and started eating, and I felt a sudden pleasure and bond in breastfeeding him. From there on, it has been an enjoyable experience. Even after an incredibly painful clogged duct at about 3 months, I'm happily breastfeeding.

I have all intentions of discontinuing breastfeeding at a year. Perhaps something will convince me to switch to formula before then. (Let's be honest; my baby doesn't have teeth yet, and I bet that's a whole new set of challenges.) But for now, I'm happy and proud to be breastfeeding. I know he's getting the best, and so is the planet.



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