Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why I Breastfeed...from A to Z

NOTE: This post is NOT intended as an attack on anyone who does not breastfeed. Its purpose is to encourage those who do breastfeed already, and encourage expectant mothers to decide to breastfeed.

I am SO grateful that I am able to breastfeed my daughter! It's a special gift that only I can give her, and some days it feels like a super-power.

Well, I'll admit that I'm grateful 95% of the time...sometimes I have *those* days when I need a little reminder of how wonderful it is!

So, I sat down to make a list for that other 5% of the time when I need encouragement. My daughter is now 7 months old and I feel like we are at a "happy" stage of breastfeeding--past the painful struggles to get it right in the beginning. If you are enjoying it less than I, maybe this list will help you! Or, maybe you should make your own list to encourage yourself to keep going (something to do while nursing at 2 am...).

I know I'm not the first person to make an A to Z list of reasons to breastfeed, but this is my own personal list. It was difficult to choose which reasons to use, because there are so many reasons why breastfeeding rocks! There are many more reasons, but here is my to each reason is a link to articles, blogs, documents, etc. that give more information on the topic.

Antibodies "Breastmilk contains lymphocytes and macrophages that produce antibodies and other immune factors."
Brain Development & Bonding Research shows that breastfeeding leads to optimal brain development, which equates to a higher IQ level, especially for infants born prematurely. Breastfeeding also promotes a stronger bond between mother and child helping to develop a higher level of trust.
Cancer, reduced risk (for mom & baby!) Prolonged breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer and this protective effect was supported by a dose-response relationship.
Diabetes, less likely Women who breastfeed even one month reduce their diabetes risk
Ear infections, less likely Your breastfed child will not only have fewer ear infections, but protection against other infections. 
Flavorful "Babies who are breast-fed tend to have a more adventurous palate when they start eating solids" (okay, this one is just kinda anecdotal, but cool!)
Just the right balance of nutrients The perfect nutrition only you can provide
Kangaroo Care Breastfeeding facilitates skin-to-skin contact, which has  proven successful in improving survival rates of premature and low birth weight newborns.
Quick- no need to mix, heat,'s ready to go!
Takes practice but it gets easier!  If breastfeeding is new for you, be patient.
Weight loss for mom- Breastfeeding helps by burning about 500 calories a day.
X-factor: It can't be duplicated. Not all the properties of breast milk are understood
You can 'wear' your baby and breastfeed at the same time  Imagine the possibilities!

Remember, if you are having struggles, GET HELP! There are awesome resources out there! (see "Breastfeeding" on my "links" page above. There is even a 24 hour helpline staffed by LaLecheLeague volunteers!)

Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Share your reasons for breastfeeding! (Comment below)

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