As the co-founder of this blog and the Breastfeeding Project, I don’ t need to tell you that we’re very pro boob here at cord. We believe our bodies were miraculously designed to build these tiny, amazing humans, and we have the goods to nourish them and grow their precious bodies.
There are a gazillion reasons to breastfeed – just for giggles, I’m listing a few here:
12 Reasons to Breastfeed
1. Bye bye, baby weight: Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories PER DAY.[i] Who wants to stairmaster when you could just snuggle a precious breastfeeding bambino - on the couch - while eating guacamole? Breastfeeding starts burning calories and blitzing the baby weight DAY ONE – even before intense post-partum workout plans can begin (or not).
2. I’ve never left my boobs at home: I don’t have to add “milk” or “formula” to my ever-growing list of things I need before I leave the house. It’s incredibly convenient. No warming, shaking (unless you count jogging), mixing, or refrigerating the boob. Just pull it out, stick it in and you’re good to go. Perfect for the mom whose pre-pregnancy brain never found its way home.
3. It provides a beautiful bonding experience for mom and baby: Breastfeeding, as beautiful and intimate as it is, causes mom’s body to release the “love hormone” (oxytocin – also the hormone that causes contractions), increasing the bond she feels with baby.[ii]
4. Built-in antisocial excuse: I’m a closet introvert. Though I really love people, I typically need a break every hour or two from a high-energy social function. Enter: breastfeeding. Though I’m typically the one who whips out the boob whenevs, breastfeeding provides me a good excuse to step away and catch my social breath. And my brothers-in-law say thank you.
5. One-stop baby soother: Tired? Here’s the boob. Cranky? Boob. Bumped your face/hand/noggin? Boob solution. Overstimulated? Boob boob boob. Breastfeeding provides an immediate “reset” to reboot and soothe cranky babies. No need to reach for the pacifier, bottle, blanket, etc., the boob hits the spot – literally. It’s seriously amazing. I call myself the “one-trick pony,” and I’m going to have to stop myself from instinctively trying to whip out the boob when my teenage daughter comes home with a broken heart.
6. I can have gloriously unprotected sex with my hubby without concern about creating bambino numero dos: When practiced exclusively, breastfeeding can provide natural birth control for the first six months of a baby’s life. When practiced effectively, nursing as a form of birth control (lactation amenorrhea) was shown to be 99% effective in providing contraception[iii]. To be practiced “successfully,” baby must never go longer than a few hours without breastfeeding during the day and six hours without breastfeeding at night. With my snacking munchkin, this is never a stretch. It's almost like she knows...
7. It reduces mom’s risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression: For every 12 months of breastfeeding (either from one child or multiple), mom’s risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3%.[iv] [v]Enough said.
8. Breast milk changes as baby grows to best fit their nutritional needs: Time of day, age of child and even during an individual feeding, mom’s breast milk changes to best meet the needs of the baby (nutritional, thirst, fat, protein, etc.).
9. Breast milk fights disease: Because breast milk contains all the same antibodies that mom has worked hard to build and store, baby is protected from the same maladies mom is.[vi] Breastfeeding has been linked with a reduced risk of (in the baby) type 1 and 2 diabetes, leukemia, asthma, gastrointestinal infections, atopic dermatitis, and obesity, to name a few.[vii]
10. Breastfeeding provides a wider range of tastes and flavors: Since mom's breast milk takes on the flavors of the food shes's eating, some research suggest this creates children with broader pallets (leading to less picky eaters).
11. It reduces baby’s risk of SIDS by 36%.[viii]
12. It’s free.
Not surprised, right? Of course we love breastfeeding. We’re a self-proclaimed crunchy blog. Duh.
But what about mom’s who can’t breastfeed for milk production issues, schedule conflicts, medical issues, or simply decide not to?
Do we judge them?
Do we think we’re “better” parents because we breastfeed?
No way, Jose.
I recall having a heart-to-heart with a dear mama friend when her baby girl was eight days old. From day one, she was told in the hospital she had “production issues.” Now, don’t get me started on how on earth doctors or lactation consultants can tell mom’s they have production issues even before their milk comes in.
But that’s a soap box for a different day.
Back to my friend. She struggled to breastfeed – found it incredibly painful, frustrating, exhausting, etc. She found herself overwhelmed with anxiety that her daughter wasn’t receiving enough milk because of the seeds the doctor planted in her mind early on. She labored through it, pumping often, but quickly felt at the end of her rope due to the exhausting toll it was taking on her mental health.
You know what I told her?
To stop breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding your baby is NOT worth sacrificing your mental health.
This surprised her – she likely expected to be judged by me, her crunchy, hippy, boob-loving friend.
We’re pro baby, first and foremost, here at cord. And we believe it is better for baby to have a mentally sane mama and be formula fed, than a breastfeeding mom who feels the life is draining out of her one drop at a time.
So, to get a few things straight:
- Do we think everyone SHOULD breastfeed? Nope.
- Do we feel everyone CAN breastfeed if they just “try hard enough”? Nope.
- Do we feel that supply “issues” are over diagnosed, filling many moms with unnecessary doubt about their babies getting enough milk/nutrition? Yup.
- Do we believe there are moms with legitimate supply issues? You bet.
- Do we want to punch hospitals in the face when they unnecessarily offering free formula to moms? Uh-huh.
A Few Reasons to Consider Not Breastfeeding
1. Breastfeeding is causing significant anxiety in mom, regardless of both lactation and emotional support.
2. Mom has suffered sexual abuse, molestation, etc., resulting in a painful and fear-inducing connection stimulated by breastfeeding.
3. Breast reduction surgery can contribute to low supply.
4. If mom has been infected with HIV, untreated tuberculosis, or other serious infection, she should not breastfeed as the virus can be spread through the milk to her baby.
5. Moms on certain medications that can cross into the breast milk or receiving radiation in any form should not breastfeed as it can negatively affecting baby’s development.
6. Smokers should not breastfeed within 95 minutes of smoking as the nicotine can pass into mom’s breast milk.
7. Legitimate supply issues. Research suggests that 95% of women are “capable” of breastfeeding[ix]
8. Women diagnosed with PCOS may experience supply issues.[x]
9. Thyroid disorder may cause supply issues.[xi]
In a society filled with the noise of blogs and opinions, I offer this suggestion – let us embrace grace for each other, first and foremost. Let us strive to support each other – to be each other’s biggest cheering squad.
Mom-ville is often isolating – everyone has an opinion. What works for me, won’t work for everyone.
To boob or not to boob, that is the question.
More grace. Less judgment. That's the answer.
The boob might have worked for you – or not. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! Feel free to shoot me an email at Kelsey@cordmama.com. I can't wait to hear from you!