**Disclaimer: Longest blog yet..might want to grab a drink and use the bathroom first!
I saw an article last night warning parents about a Similac formula recall. My immediate reaction was "just another reason why!" It just adds to my growing list of reasons I am so thankful that I am able to breastfeed my children. I couldn't imagine being a parent and wondering if I had just fed my baby some bad formula. This recall was prompted due to cans tainted with beetles, but I suppose there could also be cans out there laced with cocaine like that one episode of Law and Order: SVU. I know that's extreme but when you see how often Law and Order does a show based on true events it really makes you wonder!
The breast vs bottle debate has probably been going on as long as formula itself has been around, but for me it was never even a debate. There was no question. I wanted to breastfeed. And I think at the time I made that decision I didn't even know all the reasons why. I just knew it's what I wanted to do. When I was reading that article about the recall I came across a blog post about "reasons why it's so hard to formula feed". Here's the post for reference. The entire blog is completely sarcastic and meant to be a funny satire using all the common reasons why women choose not to breastfeed and apply them to formula. If you read through the comments like I did, you'll find many people took offense and didn't find it funny at all. That's why I added a disclaimer to this blog (even though the disclaimer on her blog didn't appear to work). I don't mean to offend anyone by discussing my choices, and I don't want anyone to feel bad about their choices. But as the author of that blog also replies in the comments, as long as it is your choice that's all that matters. Well that, and that the choice was an informed one.
Like I said, when I made the decision to breastfeed, I didn't know all the reasons why I should be doing it or why I wanted to do it. But once I made that decision, I started doing research. I wanted to be informed. I bought a book called "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" and started reading. It is amazing what a little knowledge can do. Suddenly breastfeeding turns into something I'm not just doing for my baby, it's something I'm doing for myself as well. For instance, did you know that breastfeeding can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer and some other types of cancer as well? Oh and breastfeeding women are more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy jeans sooner than formula feeding moms. They say it's because your body uses those fat stores it creates during pregnancy to create your milk, and also that breastfeeding shortly after your baby's birth signals your uterus to contract and return to it's normal size faster (or something like that, I'm not an expert). However I think another reason may be that breastfeeding women know that what they eat and drink affects their milk, so they are probably more likely to make wiser choices when it comes to their own meals.
After reading that woman's blog about the reasons it's too hard to formula feed I was happy to see someone put into words some of the things I had been feeling, even if she did so in an entirely sarcastic manner. When people say that "breastfeeding is too hard", I somewhat agree with them. Lot's of things in life are hard, but that doesn't mean we should shy away from them. Breastfeeding is not "too hard". Like anything new you are learning to do it takes practice. Did you know how to ride a bike the first time you got on one? Did you stop riding a bike altogether the first time you fell off and skinned your knee? Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, and honestly I think it took me about 2-3 weeks with my first child, it's not hard at all. The skinned knee reference is to compare when some people that say "but it's going to hurt" or "what about when the baby starts teething". There is some pain while you and your baby are learning how to do it properly, but that's only temporary. The benefits of breastfeeding last you and your baby a lifetime. As for teething, have you ever tried to drink a milkshake while biting on the straw? How'd that work for ya? When your baby is nursing properly, which he or she should definitely have the hang of by the time teething starts, those little teeth won't be in the way.
"Breastfeeding is so inconvenient." Another common complaint that I have no understanding of whatsoever. How is making your hungry baby wait while you fix a bottle convenient? Not to mention making sure all those bottle parts are cleaned and sterilized. How is getting up in the middle of the night, stumbling down the stairs and into the kitchen to make a bottle at 3 am convenient? How is making sure you have enough formula, bottles, nipples, and clean water before you leave the house to go anywhere convenient?
When my baby lets me know she's hungry, I pull down or pull up my shirt depending on what kind I'm wearing and there we go. My milk will never be recalled for beetle infestations, it's always the perfect temperature, and as long as I've had a shower in the last day (or two) I know what she's drinking her milk from is clean. When my baby wakes up in the middle of the night, I roll over and pick her up out of the cosleeper, lay her down beside me and she nurses snuggled up with me. When she's done, back in the cosleeper she goes and right back to sleep I go. All without setting foot out of the bed (unless of course a diaper change is warranted). Oh and I can't imagine having to add anything else to my already packed diaper bag. If I were to formula feed, I think I would have to carry an extra bag just for feeding supplies when I left the house!
Ok, just returned from a diaper explosion, cleanup and bath. Now where were we? Oh my next comparison. Breastfeeding in public. I've read that some women are nervous or even scared to breastfeed in public. I'm not sure why. Are these women worried about what people will think? I cannot count the number of comments, or compliments rather, I get when people see me nursing in public. I do so discretely using a receiving blanket to cover up anything someone might see. I never saw the purpose in spending money on all those fancy cover ups when the receiving blankets you get for free at your baby shower do the same job. Anyway, people always want to tell me "I think it's great what you're doing" or something along those lines. I'm not asking for compliments when I have to nurse when I'm not at home. Trust me, I'd much rather be curled up in the same chair I'm in now every time I had to nurse (except of course at night). I nurse in public because it's a necessity to feed your baby when she's hungry. The compliments are a complete bonus. So for moms who are worried about what people might think about you nursing your baby in public, trust me....they think it's great!
Ok I didn't mean to write a book on this, but I knew as soon as I read that other blog last night this was something I had to write about too. I'm very passionate about this topic. It's my children's health and well-being at stake. I am so grateful that I was able to breastfeed Gray for 14 months and I plan on doing the same for our new baby girl.