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)