Today my little family participated in a walk for World Breastfeeding Week. I was delighted to find out that it was the first, because that meant that 5, 15, 25 years from now, when I’m an IBCLC, I’ll be able to say, “I remember the very first year that we did this walk. It rained and the heat index was 105! But it was the start of something beautiful.”
It was awesome to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about breastfeeding. I did get the impression that some of them were of the “Let’s convince women to breastfeed because it’s awesome!” camp, which I actually am not a part of at all, although I understand where the urge to evangelize comes from even if I don’t agree with it. My particular brand of lactivism doesn’t focus on telling women what to do; I prefer to put the pressure on politicians, on businesses, on hospitals and care providers, and on insurance companies to support the women who have chosen to nurse their children. More women will nurse once nursing becomes a more [socially] affordable and less stigmatized option.
Anyway, I’m on a natural high after spending a couple of hours surrounded by lactation consultants, peer counsellors, breastfeeding coalition members, and babies. It’s got me thinking about why I chose to nurse and have chosen to continue my nursing relationship with Eve.
I breastfeed because:
- Human milk has evolved to be the absolute best source of nutrition for human babies. Cow’s milk evolved to be the best source of nutrition for cow babies; for me personally, it makes little sense to give cow’s milk in place of human milk.
- It’s sustainable. Think about all of the cows, the processing, the plastics, and the oil spent in getting formula from a cow’s udder to a child’s bottle. Nursing is much friendlier to the planet, especially for those lucky parents who don’t need to pump and store their milk.
- It’s much less expensive than formula.
- The anti-capitalist part of me loves the fact that I am providing food for my child without paying for some rich dude’s Ferrari.
- It feels good. I especially like the tinglyness I feel when letting down.
- Eve is heartbreakingly adorable when she falls asleep at my breast (which happens at least once a day).
- Squirting Marcus in the face with milk is hilarious.
- Squirting Eve in the face with milk is likewise hilarious!
- Watching Eve grab my breast and accidentally squirt herself in the face is the most hilarious!
- It’s convenient to not have to prepare a bottle in the middle of the night.
- It’s convenient to not have to carry bottles around when we leave the house.
- Breastmilk makes a fine substitute for cooking with when we’ve run out of cow’s milk or almond milk.
- The antibodies in my milk protected Eve from contracting the swine flu when I caught it.
- It’s an excuse to stop, slow down, and snuggle.
Those are just a few off the top of my head. Nursing has been a vital and beloved component of the relationship that I share with my daughter, and I am so, so grateful to have had this experience. There are plenty of parents out there who have wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t, due to financial, medical, or social reasons, and I hope that they realize that this month and week honors them too. This is for everyone who supports breastfeeding, regardless of whether or not they did it themselves (by choice or circumstance):