In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), I’m resurrecting our blog. Hurray, right? YAY!
Although my son has been weaned for over a year, I still think back fondly to those 2 1/2 years that he could be comforted by nursing. The benefits of breastfeeding have been touted in the news over and over again; do you guys really need to hear that? No. Mostly because many women? Are STILL not listening. They come up with excuses why they didn’t even try, or worse, that the medical facility that they gave birth in didn’t offer any support for it.
Those are all issues that are too big for me to deal with, but what’s easy for me is to share with you why I breastfed my son.
It’s because I. Am. Lazy.
What? Breastfeeding takes so much of your time! The baby is attached to you 24/7! How do you ever get anything done? You might say that. But if you just think about it as a 10-15 pound growth on your breast and carry on with your day, it’s not so bad.
Let me start over because that might sound gross to some (all) of you. I should just make a list. Here you go, Kat’s Reasons Why Breastfeeding is the Lazy and Easy Way to Feed Your Child:
1. You don’t have to pack anything. Seriously, NOTHING. Well, OK, you need to pack diapers so you can catch what comes out after. I never packed a nursing cover (jackets, burp cloths, or my own shirt usually sufficed), I never packed pacifiers (after the 4th month, when G would just reject them by spitting them out), bottles, formula, or anything like that. So easy!
This is what a milk coma looks like.
2. Because you don’t have to pack anything, there is nothing to forget at home or have to buy at the store at 2 in the morning. Listen, almost anyone who knows me will tell you that besides being lazy, I have a horrible memory problem. I’d forget my head if it weren’t screwed on, and I’d forget my boobs at home if they weren’t permanently attached. When G started eating solids, I’d always forget to pack snacks for him, which is why so many people saw me nursing in public. Breast milk is always fresh, always available, doesn’t run out (and require Daddy to run to the grocery store in the middle of the night) and never forgotten at home.
3. It doesn’t take as long. Yes, it takes about 4-6 weeks to “get the hang of it,” and bottle-feeding is very straightforward from the word go. But I believe that the initial time and patience to learn how to breastfeed again appeals to my lazy side. Why? Once again, if G was crying or required any kind of comfort, all I had to do was lay him in my lap. By the time he was 8 months, he would stop crying before he even latched on because he figured out what was coming. This is why I think breast milk has magic in it. It can stop almost any healthy child from crying. Seriously. TRY IT. It takes less than 3 seconds to place your child in your lap and whip out your breast (yeah, by the time G was 3 months old, I could really do it that quickly!).
I really appreciated this time aspect when G was waking up every 2 hours in the middle of the night. I wondered how I would have gotten any sleep at all if I had to prepare a bottle for him every time. (Also add to this the fact that I am also clumsy as well as lazy. I bet I’d drop an uncapped milk bottle at least once a night.) Actually, I would have probably sent my husband to do it. Because of this time aspect, in the first 3 months of G’s life, my husband only had to wake up 3-4 times to help me. Since he was still working full-time during the day, I felt he should get his sleep at night. G and I napped during the day.
4. I don’t have to do as much washing. If I had to choose 2 chores that I don’t hate, it’s laundry and washing dishes — but only those hard-working, type-A people enjoy cleaning. I am not one of those people. When G was in school, yes, I had to wash bottles, but there were definitely fewer of them than if he had bottle-fed full-time. Also, breast milk stains, whether in the bottle or on clothes, are easier to get out of clothes than formula or milk stains, or any food or dirt stains. You just throw it in the wash and let the detergent take care of it.
5. Related to this is the fact that breastfed poops don’t stink as bad and are easier to wash. As someone who did a lot of babysitting for extra money, I’ve changed my share of diapers. And phew, were they stinky! My son was the first exclusively-breastfed diaper that I had changed, and guess what? The smell ain’t so bad. AT ALL. The best description I’ve heard of is buttered popcorn. Yes, it really does smell like buttered popcorn! Also, in the unfortunate event that you get baby poop on the baby’s clothes or heaven forbid, on YOUR clothes, you know what you do, lazy girl? Just throw those clothes in the washing machine. You don’t even have to rinse it out first! It also means that there are fewer clothes ruined. (Not that they can wear them for very long; if my baby is normal, then he grew out of clothes so quickly, he wore some things barely once.)
6. It’s cheaper. Do I really need to pull out that chart that shows how much families spend on formula for the first year? I found a website that says it costs $1,000-$2,300 for the first year on formula. But that doesn’t even take into account the water (to mix with the formula as well as to wash the bottles), the bottles, and the things you need to clean the bottles. Cheaper is cheaper is cheaper is FREE (especially if you don’t need to pump). Breastfeeding is free. In tough economic times, anything you can get for free is good (well, almost anything). Sure, I ate like a hungry gorilla for the first 6 months of my son’s life, so we might have spent a bit more on food — but not $2,300 worth of food. Which brings me to my next point:
7. It’s a great weight-loss program. It’s not just about how breastfeeding contracts the uterus (which it does — it’s that thing inside your abdomen area that causes what I fondly refer to as the “mom pooch”), but I found that I ate much better when I was breastfeeding than when I wasn’t. Basically, my subconscious told me, “Whatever you’re putting in your mouth eventually goes into your child’s mouth, too.” I didn’t reject the occasional cheeseburger or anything, but I drank lots more water (felt thirsty all the time anyway and then it just became a habit) and craved veggies like crazy. Not that this will necessarily work for you. But it’s a good reason to start, right?
8. When I was working, I had the excuse to really take those 15-minute breaks. I pumped milk while working full-time until my son was 13 months old. I was the last of my working-mom group that was still pumping, too. My coworkers ragged on me about it, but I persevered. I said it was because my son was allergic to regular formula but part of it was that I enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle for a few minutes each day. I brought a book or magazine, or I called my mom for some idle chit-chat.
I’m grateful for the California laws that requires my employer to provide a place for me to pump as well as mandates that I take my breaks to pump. Other employers might not be so flexible, but technically they break the law if they don’t let you. And it’s becoming more common for mothers to assert their rights to these laws, so although employers might complain about it, it’s still your right as a mother to them.
9. When my son was a toddler, he let me hold him still for more than 10 seconds at a time. Mothers of toddlers would appreciate this. When they get mobile and start discovering the world outside of that little bubble of Mom ‘n’ Me, they move like the speed of light, getting into everything and putting their fingers and hands where they shouldn’t and getting so dirty they need a bath every other hour. But the highlight of my day was coming home from work with him, and he would sit in my lap and nurse for at least 10 minutes. It was our way of reconnecting, of communicating, of saying, “Hi, how are you? I missed you for the past 8-10 hours.” This was actually the last nursing session we kept and was the hardest to wean from.
After about a year of being weaned, he still stays close to Mama.
In a society where we’re so eager for our children to grow up and be independent, I wanted to let him be a baby for as long as he wanted. Because I knew the time would come too soon when he wouldn’t want to be a baby anymore, and I would have no choice about it. I’m not sure why our society believes that we should teach our children to be independent as soon as they’ve exited the womb. There is nothing wrong with keeping your children close especially in the first few days, months, or even years in their life. In fact, their instinct (which is pretty much all they’ve got at this point) is to be close to their mothers first and other caregivers second. So why do we fight it? I don’t get it, so I don’t subscribe to it. My kid is sticking next to me for as long as he wants.
10. I’m too lazy to think of a number 10. So here are another 101. Plus, my kid is trying to climb all over me …