-1-So a friend of mine posted an article entitled 6 Reasons to Stop Breastfeeding the other day. And although I am all about women as individuals making good choices for their families, honestly, I found the the post troublesome.... So I thought I'd put some positivity out there, and highlight reasons to persevere in breastfeeding.
-2-Because it's nutritionally superior. If your parents were anything like mine, they worked their butts off so I could have the very best - of education, nutrition, love, support. So why wait till your child is learning their ABCs? The best for their growing bodies is breastmilk! It's specially formulated for that child at that moment in time - your body produces specialized milk with all the good stuff they need to gain weight and brain development. It's the infant version of eating their wheaties!!
These are the days of miracle and wonder by the incomparable Amanda Greavette
-3-It's free. Gotta admit, I can be a lil' cheap. And this stuff isn't only awesome, my body just makes it. Laying aside the cost of breast pads (for leaking) and some specialized wardrobe pieces (nursing turtle neck, anyone?), it doesn't cost anything. Well you do have to drink a lot of water. But that's free too, so n/m.
-4-It's a miracle. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I don't think there is any other situation wherein your body starts leaking a liquid and it's actually GOOD - for you and for someone else! Lactation is something sort of crazy and miraculous that I can do - it makes me feel very womanly (and slightly bad-ass).
Mother and Child by Mary Cassat
-5-It's good for me. Although losing weight due to breastfeeding may be a myth (especially if you eat like poop because you think you can get away with it), breastfeeding does lessen your risk of cancer! It also sends all sort of awesome messages to your body to shrink the uterus back to its normal pre-baby size, to not ovulate for a while, and to love the little baby in your arms (thanks to that hormone oxytocin which is released when you nurse). This means that nursing can also help lessen PPD, although I certainly understand it can also make it worse for some women and am not pushing it as a cure-all for this very serious issue.
-6-This time is so short. The fact is, my baby won't be a baby forever. I have such a small window of time to nurture her in this special way! Even if I am so blessed to have more babies to nurse, this is her time to have me loving her in such an intimate way. When she looks up at me and smiles, or pulls back to have a little chat during her snack, my heart melts as I realize, this won't last. Soon it'll be sippy cups and goldfish. So is it such a huge sacrifice to make for her for a year, maybe two? I don't think so, but even if it is...
-7-Sacrifice is good for me. It is not good for me to get my way too much of the time - then I start mistaking my will for God's will, and begin to think I am really hot stuff. I need to have other people around me, daily, who call me to 'die to self' - because it makes me stop thinking of myself, and become a servant of others, just like Christ. Breastfeeding forces my husband and I to see our bodies not as our own sensory wish-fulfillers, but as holy temples consecrated to God, that we use to serve one another and our families out of mutual respect and love. My body changes, and that kills my vanity; my time commitment to my husband changes, and that kills both of our selfishness in our relationship; my ability to do whatever I want changes, and that kills my possessiveness over my time.
I'm not claiming that breastfeeding is alway easy or fun or always feels great. But I think that's a good thing - it makes me realize that my vocation is hard, but good, and worth doing. I am a mother and that is a rough job. But I am called to this great adventure and with every nursing session, diaper change, patient word, kind smile, I am forming my soul and my daughter's.
Statue of Mary nursing Jesus at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore