It’s World Breastfeeding Week – celebrated every year from August 1st – August 7th. Each year, the organization chooses a theme and this years theme is “A Shared Responsibility“. At this point in my life, I have been breastfeeding for 2 years and 11 months straight, and I’ll admit – other than bottle feeding while I’m at work, the brunt of the breastfeeding journey has fallen on me. That’s 11% (and counting) of my life, spent nourishing another human. Our first child was breastfed for just over 25 months and we’re currently at 9 months and counting for the baby.
While I’m not a professional, here are my top 10 reasons I love breastfeeding my children:
1 – Cheapest milk around town
I consider myself pretty thrifty so the idea of saving money by breastfeeding was enticing to me. While I did shell out some money to buy breast milk storage bags, I haven’t had the reoccurring costs of buying formula. I also was able to get my breast pump for free through our health insurance. I do think this has saved us quite a bit of money.
2 – Chunky Babies
I whole heartedly believe that I had such chunky babies from the high fat content of my breast milk. I always felt accomplished when I saw how my breastmilk settled in the fridge, with the thick layer of hindmilk floating at the top. At 4 months old, my kids were nearly 20 pounds each. We all hear that the milk changes to provide the nutrients needed for the baby in different stages of life. I do think that my breastmilk has kept my children nice and plump, giving them all the nutrition they need, despite getting sick.
3 – It’s my answer to everything
Teething baby – here’s the boob to help. Tired baby, here’s the boob to help put baby to sleep. Hurt yourself – here’s the boob to help make baby feel better. Need a pacifier – here’s the boob to help soothe baby. When I just don’t know what to do anymore, breastfeeding is my solution and nearly always stops the crying.
4 – Extra Cuddles
I love the extra cuddles I get while holding my babies during our nursing sessions. Sometimes, I get a cute little hand placed on my cheek. Other times, I get a foot kick on my shoulder. Often, our eyes lock and I like to believe my babies are telling me “I love you” with their gaze. All the time, I am especially reminiscent of how little they used to be when I nurse them in the good old wooden glider we have. As the months go by and our babies grow, it seems the space we once had in the glider is running out. But somehow we always manage to fit for another session.
5 – Instantly the correct temperature
On a few rare occasions, I’ve had to wait for milk to warm up (i.e. when I got my wisdom teeth removed, or anesthesia from a D&C procedure). Waiting for milk to warm up in the bottle warmer was agonizing. The tears and cries that ensued due to not being immediately gratified, and inability to provide my fail safe answer of the boob, seemed to last forever. Also, it was incredibly awkward bottle feeding my own child, and we struggled with the unfamiliarity.
6 – Catching Extra Sleep
At about 15 months, my toddler decided she didn’t want to sleep in her crib anymore. She waltzed over to the spare bedroom and into the full sized bed. I didn’t mind because I got to get some extra rest as she nursed to sleep before naps and bedtime in the side-laying position.
7 – Fewer (to none) bottles to clean
As mentioned before, other than while I was at work, I do all the feedings. So we only went through one bottle a day. There are very few things that I dislike more than cleaning and sterilizing a million bottle pieces. Then add all the pump parts in addition to that. Breastfeeding from the tap removes this chore from my to-do list.
8 – Convenience
By the same concept of not having bottles to clean, there are no bottles to pack in the diaper bag when going on an outing, so long as I’m around. It’s one less thing to worry about or forget to pack.
9 – Pumping
By law, employers are required to provide a space for working mothers to pump and give them extended breaks in which to do so. I enjoyed having this extra time to think about my family at home that I was providing for. I usually had a cute picture to look at or text to read from family during my pump break. Having the space and support from my employers and coworkers made a difference in sustaining a good milk supply while being a full time working mother.
10 – Best of all is that there are no rules!
You can breastfeed your baby as short or as long as you (and your baby) want to. Although I always thought I would continue nursing our toddler when we brought the baby home, but the day we brought our second baby home, I decided tandem nursing was not for me. I was tired of having a toddler constantly attached to me, and I decided to only nurse the baby going forward. Weaning our toddler cold turkey was not easy. Truth of it was, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding my toddler anymore. She got 25 long, good months in, but it was time for our breastfeeding journey to come to an end as a new one started with the baby.
Most importantly is that you listen to yourself and your baby, gather support from your village and feed those babies how you see fit! If that includes breastfeeding, find the support you need, and don’t be afraid to take a break from nursing baby yourself and let your support bottle feed instead, after all, it is a #SharedResponsibility!