Let’s face it…debates over breast milk vs. formula can get as heated as a lit sparkler in a child’s hand (never a good idea, folks)!
Yes, it’s a matter of choice. No, there aren’t any laws dictating what you are to feed your baby. But there is a common sense factor here – which is, after all, the theme of the Green Grandma blog: combining old-fashioned ways with 21st century common sense!
Before I ruffle too many formula feeders feathers (nice alliteration, don’t you think?), let me preface by saying I’m only pointing out the facts on the benefits of breastfeeding. That doesn’t preclude some of the benefits you may find by feeding your baby formula.
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Before you even know you’re pregnant, your breasts seem to take on a life of their own. A-cups start fitting nicely into B-cups, Bs into Cs, and so on. While you may enjoy the burgeoning voluptuousness, the tenderness you experience is another story altogether. But there’s no stopping this natural progression. Your body prepares itself for what it was created to do – nourish your little one(s). And it can’t read your mind! If you don’t plan to nurse, it doesn’t stop its preparations….and engorgement is the unfortunate consequence that follows if the milk is not released by a suckling baby soon after he/she is born.
There are countless benefits to breastfeeding, both for the baby and the mother as well.
Moms benefit in the following ways:
• If you have a family history of breast cancer, breastfeeding cuts your risk of developing breast cancer before menopause by 50% or more.
• You never have to worry about running out of formula and sending daddy out on a late night run for some.
• You will bond with your baby in a way unique only to nursing mothers.
• There will be a significant delay in getting your period after having the baby. A word of caution here: don’t think this means you can’t get pregnant while nursing – just ask any number of moms out there with children really close in age!
• Breastfeeding produces a calming effect in the early weeks and months postpartum. This is due to the brain’s release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin. Goodbye pre-birth moodiness. Hello serenity! This is a perk for daddy as well.
• Weight loss – if you’re nursing, you’ll be burning about 600 calories more daily than if you were using formula. Now that’s real motivation!
• You’ll save $$ -- tons of it, in fact. Let’s face it…there’s no comparison in the cost here.
And let’s not forget the benefits your child will reap:
• Research indicates a sizable drop in the risk for SIDS.
• Babies who are breastfed experience fewer allergy problems.
• The chance of becoming obese in their teen years is significantly less.
• Nursed infants are more immune to infections such as: diarrhea, ear infections, herpes simples, haemophilus infuenze, and RSV (respiratory syncytical virus).
• There is also a good deal of research suggesting a measurable increase in IQ and cognitive reasoning skills in breastfed babies.
The rest of us benefit as well when you choose to breastfeed your baby, because breastfeeding is much kinder to the environment. A green alternative to formula feeding, it produces nothing that will later reside in the landfills. Plus, think of the lack of manufacturing needed, as well as all the environmental costs of transporting the formula to the various outlets. It all adds up.
While some moms opt for disposable breast pads, there are greener alternatives to these as well – you can make your own cloth liners, purchase washable ones or try what has been described as “the revolutionary new alternative to traditional breast pads combining such unique features as flexibility, breathability, invisibility and ‘sticks to you ability’ to provide the kind of protection every expectant and nursing mother needs.” LilyPadz® can be purchased online or in stores like Target. Check them out at www.lilypadz.com.
“But I have to go back to work. I can’t breastfeed!” I hear you saying. Let me refer you to my daughter on that one. She’s been working fulltime and breastfeeding exclusively for over eight months now…plus using only cloth diapers! It’s called a breast pump and it’s really not that big of a deal. I can put you in touch with her if you’d like. She’ll be happy to discuss the benefits and challenges associated with working fulltime while breastfeeding. Maybe I’ll have her guest blog one of these days.
As always, this information is just for your consideration.
Keeping it green,