Saturday, July 10, 2010

Breastfeeding: Why I Love It

There are so many reasons why I love to breast feed. Where do I even start? I'll start with five.

1) It's inexpensive! I priced Enfamil formula at $23 per container. There are 29 servings in each. Considering that a young baby needs (approximately) 6-8 feedings a day, that container will last (again, approximately) only 3-4 days. That's about $60 per week, and $240 per month. After the first year of a child's life, formula will have cost you over $2,800. Now, of course, feedings become less frequent as the child grows older, and there are generic brands at about half the price. So you spend only $1,400. Phew...I could take a nice vacation with that money. ;)

2) It's always warm, always ready, always right there. No matter where I am or how busy things are, if my baby is hungry, she can eat. Nursings are not only used to fill her tummy, but to calm her down too. The sucking sensation immediately can calm a cranky moment or soothe away the pain of a bump.

3) It makes me relax. Sometimes when the laundry's piled up, the dishes need to be done, and I should be getting dinner ready - I get stressed out. And on top of that, my baby is growing bored with her toys and rubbing her eyes. Taking her in my arms and nursing her gives me no choice but to take a moment and relax. Then the hormones kick in...that amazing bonding hormone, oxytocin. I feel so loving and protective over my baby. I don't mind that other duties are calling my name...my stress goes away and my baby is happy!

4) I have always fed my baby when she needs it. Some people call this "on demand" but that makes it sound like you have no control and your child is this headstrong, little tyrant. Instead, when people asked me, "Is she on a schedule?" I liked saying, "Yes, whenever she needs it." This way, I'm not looking at the clock and counting the ounces and worrying about when she last ate. Some parents feel very strongly about scheduling and keep their babies strictly to it. While I think that's silly and stressful, I understand that they have their reasons for it. I just hope that when they get a little hungry and want a snack, their spouse tells them, "Nope! You just ate - wait two more hours and then you can eat a full meal."

4a) Oh - why I like feeding my baby whenever she needs it: because it makes sense! If she cries, I can calm her by nursing. A simple feeding can make her happy once again, put her to sleep if she is a little tired, but above all, it's gentle, responsive parenting. In the womb, babies never have to worry about being hungry or asking to be fed. They just are. When they're born, it seems so cruel to me to withhold a little (or big) feeding just because we think they shouldn't be hungry again.

5) I think most mothers who breastfeed understand just the absolute love of it. Feeling their babies close to them, playing with their fingers, touching their hair, talking to them, reading them a book, cleaning their ears (hey, I do it sometimes, haha), and just cherishing those moments. My baby girl has started to reach up and touch my face when she nurses. At night when we're in bed, she'll run her fingers up and down my arms. It tickles and it's so adorable.

I'll write more reasons later!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Beautiful post! :) I love the part about suggesting that an adult wait two more hours because "you just ate." LOL!!

My breastfeeding experience has gone from something which I resented at best and hated at worst, to something which totally contributed toward my strong maternal bond with my third baby. Even though I breastfed on demand, did attachment parenting, etc., I never had this bonding experience. I hated breastfeeding, I hated the pain it caused my nipples (likely from fibromyalgia), I hated letdowns because they were so painful, etc... and most of all, I never experienced that mommy attachment hormone that "everyone" said happened. My mother couldn't figure it out, because she fell in love with it right away. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know how to fix it. I stuck with it, even nursing through my second and third pregnancies, only because I felt like I "should" do it, and I didn't want to let my babies down. It was more of an ethical thing for me, not driven by any other feelings at all. When my third came along, I was resigned to what I supposed was just going to be my experience... no bonding, and hating nursing.

Much to my delight, however, within a week after my third was born, I knew something was different. Yes, nursing was still painful for me... but there was some kind of bonding going on that I'd never known before. Within another week, it was completely there... that beautiful feeling of mother/baby bonding and attachment that I'd longed for and looked forward to so much, but never experienced before. It was like night and day!!! A feeling so inexplicable, powerful, and beautiful... I just kept thinking, "So THAT'S what this is supposed to be like!!!" I loved looking down into his little face, with his tiny hand reaching up to my cheek, and the way we would just stare into each other's eyes. I loved how, for months, he would "pop off" right after letdown, and smile and coo for about a minute before latching back on again. It was his "thank you" song and it melted my heart even more. :) And it wasn't just while we were nursing, but every moment of the day seemed different... whether he was cranky, happy, screaming, whatever, it didn't matter... that incredibly strong feeling of bonding was there. I LOVE IT!!!!!! :) :) :) For the first time in my life, I am actually happy to be a mother. :) Yes, there are a lot of stressful days, times when I wish I could just "get away" or have some time to myself... but in the end, that sweet smile that tells me I'm doing things right for him makes it all worth it. :) :) :) And I wish he never had to grow up, because I love this attachment between us!!! LOL