Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Freedom of Breastfeeding

I keep coming across it more and more that breastfeeding is portrayed as something that is difficult and somehow cumbersome. Parenting magazines are filled with ads to help make breastfeeding easier and less stressful. The image this creates in people’s minds is one of breastfeeding as a hardship.
Ladies, I would like to tell you that despite what you may have read elsewhere, breastfeeding gives you and your baby so much freedom! Take a look at all those products that companies are desperately trying to make you buy- you don’t need any of them. Certainly there are some that might be useful in specific situations, but overall none of them are true necessities.
If you breastfeed your child, you and your baby are both completely independent of formula companies that manufacture breast milk substitutes. You don’t have to worry about the source of the milk used to produce the formula or the facility it is manufactured in, etc. When you nurse your baby, you know exactly where it is coming from and that it is specifically made for your child’s needs. No need to worry about human error somewhere in the manufacturing process. There is no equipment necessary for you to purchase.
In the event of a natural disaster, where there is limited access to food and water, a breastfeeding mother will still be able to produce milk for her baby. She does not have to worry about contamination of the supplies that are needed to mix formula- the woman has everything she needs with her at all times.
The same is true of any situation in which supplies are limited- unexpected travel delays, war, etc. It is absolute freedom in a sense because all the baby needs to survive is his/her mother. There is no dependence on outside sources.
However, many women feel trapped by their infant’s dependence on them. While I understand this feeling, I also know that this phase is of such short duration that it is over in the blink of an eye. Many women wish themselves back to this time in their lives, once the children have grown. It is a truly unique bond that nature intended us to have with our babies, so that mother and child would not be apart during early infancy.
I hope that more mothers can see how much freedom they actually have during the time in which their babies are exclusively breastfed. It is financial freedom and an independence from outside sources. Without this freedom, humanity would not have come as far as it has. Unfortunately, if the current trend continues, the art of breastfeeding may one day be lost altogether. My wish is for women to see what power they have in feeding their children from their bodies, to embrace this power, and to cherish it for future generations.

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