You Don’t Have To Be Crunchy To Like Breastfeeding

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding readers!  The topic for the March Carnival of Breastfeeding, in counterpoint to last month's tales of challenges and difficulties, is to write about the things we like about breastfeeding.  This post will be published on Monday, March 22nd, the day of the Carnival.  As is the custom with the Carnivals, each carnival participant will put a list of links to all the other carnival posts at the bottom of their own posts.  This means a certain amount of updating throughout the day, so, if you are reading this post on the 22nd, please do check back later to see whether any links to new carnival submissions have appeared at the bottom.

My first reaction to the topic choice this time around was "I've already written that!".  Back when I was still breastfeeding but facing the imminent end, I sat down and wrote my farewell to breastfeeding.  I wrote about what it was like and I wrote about why I found it awesome, and I don't think I'll ever say it better than I said it then.  I thought about just retrospectively declaring that post to be my blog submission for this month, and Angela agreed I could do so as long as I republished it to be at the top of my blog, but in the end I decided that putting an introduction from 2010 into a 2008 post would just make my archives too confusing and that I'd prefer to write a new post and put a link back to the original one in it.  So, consider this a two-for-the-price-of-one: here's a list of the reasons why I liked breastfeeding, and that link earlier in the paragraph will take you to my ode to how I felt about it at the time.

Those of you who were up really early (or really late, depending on your time zone) and read this post then may have noticed that I've changed the title at the last minute.  This is because I think breastfeeding is sometimes seen as the preserve of crunchy earth mother types – especially in a carnival like this, where the majority of the participants are going to be crunchy earth mother types – and I wanted to stress that that isn't the case.  I am about as crunchy as jelly and, in spite of all the problems I initially had with breastfeeding, I still found plenty of reasons to love it.

Things I Really Like About Breastfeeding

1. Breastfeeding, when it goes all right (which in the vast majority of cases it does if you can hang in there during the initial rocky patch), is one of the few times in life where the right thing to do is also the easy thing to do.  I'm all for avoiding hassle where possible, but so many times the trade-off is guilt – I feel guilty over the times I let the children watch TV because it's easier for me than thinking up things to do with them, over the times I throw together bread and cheese and lunch meat for them because it's easier than making a proper meal, over the times when I don't go the extra mile in the other areas of my life because I don't want the work but know that really I should do it.  But, when it came to feeding my baby, I got to avoid all the hassle of mixing formula and washing bottles at the just-want-to-flop end of the day stage and packing bottles every time I went out, while simultaneously feeling really good about what I was doing.  It's the equivalent of someone inventing chocolate that's good for you.

2. Ear infections and tummy bugs in babies are utterly miserable for all concerned.  I liked knowing I had less chance of having to deal with them.

3. I had a hand free while feeding (without having to mess around with baby-propping or with expensive Podee systems).  When I gave Katie bottles (which I unfortunately had to do on a regular basis in hopes of getting her used to them before I went back to work), I found it quite noticeable how much more my actions were restricted.

4. While getting up for night feeds will never be anything other than a pain, at least I could just scoop the baby up and unclip my bra rather than having to go down to a cold kitchen and wait impatiently for a bottle to warm up.  It also meant I had the option of simply pulling the baby into bed with me and falling straight back to sleep again while I nursed.  Having read a stack of research on the possible risks of this I did avoid doing this in Katie's early months as there seems to be slightly more of a SIDS risk then (in Jamie's case, I had so much trouble getting him to sleep I just went ahead and slept with him anyway, risk or no), and I do want to stress that this is not something you should do unless you have read and are following the right safety precautions because it really can be dangerous to the baby otherwise.  But, done with all appropriate risk-minimisation strategies, it was great for night feeds a few months down the line, when I was back at work and desperately needed my sleep.

5. Apart from the whole lousy tongue tie experience, I never had to worry about how much the baby was taking in at each feed.  I mention this one because it's so often mentioned as a disadvantage of breastfeeding rather than as an advantage; many people, it appears, prefer knowing how much the baby is taking in at each feed, and I frequently see this listed as an advantage of formula feeding, but I have never seen it that way.  Knowing how much the baby was taking at each feed would have done my head in.  I would have had to worry about whether it was too much or too little and what balance to draw between making up enough formula that I could be sure the baby was getting enough but not so much that I was wasting excessive amounts… good god, it would have driven me nuts.  I was glad to avoid all that.

6. I loved the idea of this whole extra ability my body had.  I once read a novel in which one of the characters, a young breastfeeding mother, muses on how amazing it is that her body can produce something that you'd buy in the supermarket.  Her body works, she thinks proudly.  That was how I felt.

7. It's a lovely snuggly enjoyable experience.  Do I think it helped me to bond with my babies better?  No.  Was it a fun thing to do that I'm glad I had the chance to do?  Yes.

And now – please check out the other Carnival submissions!

Breastfeeding is how I connect with my little one after work – Pat Grace (Life Of A Babywearing And Breastfeeding Mommy)

No need to count calories when breastfeeding – Lauren (Hobo Mama)

Poems About The Joys of Breastfeeding – Melodie (Breastfeeding Moms Unite)

Nursing My Little Person – Whozat (Lucy and Ethel Have A Baby Toddler)

A Joyful List – Maman A Droit

The Top Five Things I Love About Breastfeeding
– Jenny (Chronicles of a Nursing Mom)

Milk Songs – Dionna (Code Name Mama)

The Joys of Nursing To Sleep – Sheryl (Little Snowflakes)

Things I loved about breastfeeding my son – Tanya (The Motherwear blog)

Nursing Haikus – Mandy (Living Peacefully With Children)

What Makes Breastfeeding So Great – Elita (Blacktating)

The Joys of Breastfeeding a Toddler – Claire (Adventures of Lactating Girl)


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10 responses to “You Don’t Have To Be Crunchy To Like Breastfeeding

  1. I love the idea of breastfeeding as almost a super power-I may not have x-ray vision or the ability to fly, but I can produce a miracle elixer with many health benefits, using nothing but my breasts! Lol. There’s a blog I like called “the Adventures of Lactating Girl” and I love her name for same reason-that super power/breastfeeding analogy is just really compelling (and funny) to me 🙂

  2. As crunchy as jelly. I love that. I also find it strange that so many people are hung up on how much their baby eats per feed. We’re not making a recipe people we’re feeding a baby here!

  3. I love No. 1 and it really is true. Sometimes I am exhausted and take short cuts like you. After a long day at work, sometimes it’s just easier to let my son watch some cartoons instead of taking him to the park or the library. But breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your kid and you can be lazy at the same time! Brilliant.

  4. Actually, with safety precautions in place, in the bed actually has less of a risk of SIDS than in a crib. They attribute it to mom’s breathing regulating the baby’s breathing and frequent wakings to nurse.
    Breastfeeding does make you feel like you have a superpower, doesn’t it? I love what my body can do!

  5. Claire: That’s a myth, I’m afraid. There have now been nine studies directly comparing different factors between babies who died of SIDS and healthy babies, and none of them found bedsharing to be associated with decreased risk, even after allowing for multiple other factors. Three of the studies looked at risk with different ages, and all three found an increased risk in the early months (although, in practice, the actual numbers you’d be looking at would be extremely tiny with all proper safety precautions).

  6. I love the lazy factor! I sometimes feel slightly guilty at how often breastfeeding just makes things easier for all of us, but screw it. I’m not feeling guilty anymore!
    I got a taste of how it would be like to do night wakings if I weren’t breastfeeding the other night. Due to some snoring issues (my husband with a headcold) and my inability to sleep through them, I ended up on the couch and was rudely awakened by my son crying out for me to come back upstairs. I was SO TIRED as I trudged back up to the room, and cold, and annoyed, and I thought: Gosh, I’m glad I usually nurse and cosleep. I get so much more sleep that way!

  7. We have thankfully managed to avoid ear infections thus far (my son is 2). Despite breastfeeding, he has had a few tummy bugs. I am so grateful that we were nursing when he had them. Nursing soothed him when he was feeling awful and was the only thing he could keep down when sick!

  8. #6 – our bodies are just amazing! for the 1st 6months of their lives, it is all from us, mommies.

  9. I love your point that for once, the easy thing to do is the right thing to do. There is a myth that bottle feeding is easier. It isn’t. Breastfeeding is the laziest thing in the world, once it’s going OK. You can even fall asleep doing it.

  10. The bonding thing, I now do believe that there is truth in it, my 3rd couldn’t nurse well and I pumped for a while before we got nursing sorted and I do feel there was a difference, those hormones do do something, even if our brains are trying to pretend they aren’t.

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