For me, nursing was a no brainer.Not only was it the best for Baby R, but it was free and I got bigger boobs! My husband was all for it especially with those results. But on a deeper level, it was something I always knew I would do when the time came. Perhaps it was growing up and listening to my Grandma, the family Nursing Nazi, talk about how great it is for the baby, and bonding etc., or even reading all about the studies that tout the benefits of breastmilk. Whichever it was, I can’t imagine not nursing Baby R. In fact, it’s become so important to me that I find myself advocating it on a regular basis. To me, it’s incredibly selfish not to breastfeed, and it’s really disappointing that more women don’t do it. A few caveat’s though - if you can’t nurse because of adoption, milk supply, defects, etc you’re off the hook. What I’m talking about are women who choose not to because they are lazy, tired, don’t want to ruin their boobs (seriously? after stretching your belly to oblivion?), don’t want to pump at work and otherwise just don’t want to make the effort.
I can’t tell you how many Moms are indifferent to it. You bring a child into the world and your job is to protect him or her as well as nurture yet you don’t breastfeed because it’s a burden on you? How selfish. Breastmilk is the single greatest meal a baby can have. It has vitamins, minerals, fat, proteins, immunity, and everything else a growing and developing baby needs to survive and thrive. Recent studies show that if more women nursed their babies for the first 6 months it would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. That means that breastmilk is one of the most powerful and beneficial things you can give your baby. I had a friend once tell me her reasoning for not nursing was because she was tired after delivery, and her milk wasn’t in. Well DUH!! You just pushed a kid the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of lemon. Of course you’re tired – and you don’t have milk because it doesn’t come in for a days. Babies are born to survive for a few days without lots of food – hence the body produces colostrum – a super rich “pre-milk” to take care of the babe while everyone recovers (or at least tries to !) from the trauma of delivery.
I know I make this sound easy, and it is, to advocate and stand on a soapbox, but the reality of nursing a baby is that it is not easy. In fact, its one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Babies are born knowing they have to suck, but not necessarily how to suck. Couple that with exhaustion, sleep deprivation, overall moodiness and you have a whopper of a problem. For me, my Mom was my biggest champion – her help led the lactation consultant to ask me why I was there. For others, such as a dear friend of mine, patience, strong will and her lactation consultant were the key.
I will freely admit, seeing my friends success – even with the hard beginning – has contributed a GREAT deal to my success. Because I saw her doing it, I KNEW I could do it. Perhaps it was competitive, but I look up to my friend and seeing her have a great experience (although not always) was a great lead-in to my own.
Again, I have to stress, breastfeeding is not easy, after childbirth, its one of the hardest things I have ever done. The baby won’t latch, falls asleep, won’t wakeup to feed, no one else can feed him or her, etc. It’s not easy. But it is SO worth it. Baby R has never been sick – and she’s been at daycare since she was 8 weeks because I had to go back to work. She’s growing and growing and growing – she just started cereal a few weeks ago and is fascinated when my husband and I eat. She also loves to “help” feed herself. Usually that means the cereal is in her ear and the spoon becomes a teether, but its great to see her happy and healthy. I’m not insinuating that formula-fed babies are any less happy and healthy, but its a proven fact that breastmilk is best.
Oh – to my sister who is absolutely appalled whenever I nurse Baby R in public – GET OVER IT.
And one final note – my husband – he bonded with Baby R just fine – they have each other wrapped around their fingers.