Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WBW: What I Love About Breastfeeding

You’re probably wondering what the acronym in the title is for. This week is World Breastfeeding Week! In honor of this wonderful week, I will be writing only breastfeeding related posts. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to email me
In my last post, I wrote about What I Hated About Breastfeeding. I hope this wasn’t too misleading- I actually love breastfeeding! I nursed my daughter for 15 months- I was pregnant and my milk dried up- and I am still almost exclusively breastfeeding my 9 month old son. I am training to be a La Leche League leader and am trying to help women be successful at nursing their babies. So today, I am going to tell you about all the things I LOVE about breastfeeding.
For the mother:
Before we look at the many benefits for the baby, I want to tell you how great it is for the mother. This might seem trivial to you, but I love to be able to eat an additional 500 calories (rough estimate) per day! Because of the extra calories my body uses daily, I was able to easily lose 12 lbs over the last few weeks. And I am able to enjoy ice cream more often!
Another benefit to the mother’s health was shown in a study released by the Archives of Internal Medicine. For women who have a family history of breast cancer (first-degree relative, such as mother or sister), lactation reduces the incidences of premenopausal breast cancer by 59%! The study found that the length of lactation was not important- the main thing was that the ladies breastfed at all.
For the baby:
As we all know, breast milk is the perfect food for babies. It is made by the mother’s body to meet the specific dietary and immune needs of her baby. The composition of breast milk is still a mystery to scientists, who have been trying to synthetically reproduce it for decades. Every woman makes unique milk to suit her baby that contains just the right balance of nutrients and immune boosters to help her little one grow.
Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese later in life. Scientists believe that the breastfed baby eats exactly according to its needs, stopping when he or she is full, and thus developing good eating habits. It is not possible for a breastfed baby to overeat, so always feed when he/she is hungry!
Breast milk takes on a slightly different flavor at each feeding, depending on the foods the mother is eating. Through this, the baby is introduced to very subtle variations in taste, which may help the child be a little less picky when it comes to eating solids later on.
For both:
One of the most obvious advantages of breastfeeding is the fact that is always readily available. There are no bottles to worry about that need cleaning and sterilizing- all you need is your breasts. Your little one doesn't have to wait for the meal to be prepared because it is always ready. If you have to go on a trip somewhere, there is nothing you need to pack for your infant’s feeding needs. All he/she needs is you!
There is no formula that needs mixing and heating to a certain temperature that can spoil or be contaminated- breast milk is always served at the perfect temperature and it leaves the body in a sterile state. You don’t have to worry about the manufacturing process or possible recalls- your breasts do all that work without the risk of human failure. An exclusively breastfed baby doesn’t even need any supplementation with water because breast milk covers all the bases.
My favorite thing about breastfeeding by far is the close bond that develops between mother and child. I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than snuggling up with my baby for a nice feed. When my last baby has stopped nursing, I know I will miss the closeness between us. I will miss the times where we gaze into each others eyes. I will miss the way he giggles on the breast when I do something funny. I think when my last drop of milk has dried up, I might wonder what my breasts are for without a baby attached to them…

Disclaimer: This is not an extensive list of the benefits of breastfeeding, but merely my list of my favorite things about it. I am not implying that every woman is capable of breastfeeding, nor am I suggesting that formula is bad.

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