Number One Reason To Breastfeed
I posted a question on the pureMotherhood Facebook page a few days ago. I asked, “What do you love about breastfeeding?” Closeness, cuddling and bonding won out. I’ve been pondering those answers since then.
It’s amazing to me how my mood can change in an instant when I sit down to nurse my little one. As soon as the milk starts flowing my mind and body completely relax. And no matter how irritated I was before, it all melts away. I stare into those big, beautiful brown eyes and fall in love. Every. Time. I run my fingers over his tiny hands and sweet cheeks. He is the most amazing thing in the world.
And then it occurred to me . . . the bonding experience is one thing that most women find really important about breastfeeding but it’s not one of the typical “Top 10 Reasons to Breastfeed”. Tragic, because it’s probably one of the most important. I think no one wants to say it because it could easily, deeply offend mothers who don’t breastfeed. Somehow it’s just too personal to say. But don’t women need to hear it?
There are many physical benefits to breastfeeding and those are the ones that are most often highlighted. I just did a quick search on reasons to breastfeed and quickly came up with this list from pregnancy.about.com. Click HERE to see the full, detailed list.
- Increases baby’s IQ.
- Helps mom lose that baby fat.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to die of SIDS.
- Reduced allergies for breastfed babies.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding burns calories.
- Formula increases the risk of Type 1 Diabetes.
- Postbirth benefits are also many.
- Cancers decrease with breastfeeding too.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of obesity.
Those are all great things and certainly are good reasons to choose to breastfeed.
Let’s go back to #8 for a minute. There are postbirth benefits to breastfeeding because when you breastfeed your body releases large amounts of oxytocin. This natural chemical helps the uterus to contract and prevents postpartum hemorrhage. So, it saves the life of the mother, naturally. It also helps to release milk from the mammary glands so a mother may provide nourishment to her baby.
And, this one (complex) chemical promotes bonding between mother and child. It is often called the ‘love’ hormone as it promotes love and trust between two people. It’s the same chemical that spikes in both men and women when experiencing orgasm (it’s all beginning to make sense now, right?)! Moreover, it brings feelings of contentment, reduces anxiety and has a calming effect. The reason you always feel like you need a nap after breastfeeding? Oxytocin has a sedative effect as well.
So, all those physical benefits are great but the bonding between a mother and child is what nursing moms find most important. The problem is you can’t tell someone they won’t be able to bond with their baby if they don’t breastfeed. You’d hurt their feelings or be indirectly calling them a bad mom. And unfortunately you can talk about it ‘until you’re blue in the face’ but you can’t fully understand and appreciate it until you’ve actually experienced it. THAT is why it’s SO important that we make breastfeeding a normal practice in our country. We shouldn’t have to guilt moms into breastfeeding by telling them they can’t bond as well with their babies if they bottlefeed, even if the scientific data backs it up. Breastfeeding has to be normal so that every woman can experience the wonderful benefits of oxytocin for herself.
Question for you . . . What things have you done or do you want to do to help make breastfeeding a normal practice in our society?