Breastfeeding is sadly, quite the contentious subject. Whether it’s die hard advocates who make formula Mama’s feel like failures, or strangers that shame breastfeeding Mama’s in public, everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share it with you.
Personally, choosing to breastfeed has been a no-brainer even if I previously found the idea of it more daunting than labour (yes, really). Maybe it had something to do with the fact that throughout the majority of my pregnancy, I never heard a positive or encouraging story about breastfeeding. My Mama and Nan chose not to breastfeed, and the few friends I have that are Mothers, also didn’t breastfeed. Reasons ranged from not producing enough milk, to problems with latching or quite simply, it hurt too much.
My anxieties kicked in almost immediately. What if I didn’t produce enough milk? What if my baby refused to latch? What if it was so painful my nipples flew a white flag without even consulting me?
Thankfully a two hour breastfeeding session run through an NCT class, put my mind-and worries- at ease. The session leader separated fact from fiction, and by doing so put to us that we had all the tools needed to be able to successfully breastfeed. Sure, it wasn’t going to be easy. Breastfeeding is indeed an artform. But the important message that was put across to us was not to give up at the first hurdle. To be unafraid to ask for help- be it from a midwife, friend or even your local GP- if and when you need it.
Thanks to our NCT leader, who led the session with a reassuring and positive approach, without bias or judgement, I left the group feeling informed but above all, confident! The horror stories told by work colleagues and friends faded into the background and I felt huge affirmation in my choice to breastfeed.
So here are just some of the reasons (and facts) why I have chosen to breastfeed my baby:
- Proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer- the longer you breastfeed, the better!
- Helps the uterus contract, returning to its normal size significantly quicker.
- Burns calories- who doesn’t love a hardcore workout that they can do whilst sitting down?
- No warming/sterilising bottles, readily available and IT’S FREE!!!
- Reduces the risk of SIDS
- Great for bonding
- Tailor made- Believe it or not, your breastmilk is constantly changing in order to provide the nutrients your baby specifically needs, at any given time.
- Colostrum is GOLD- the small stuff your boobies make prior to milk, is full of so much goodness that athletes have been known to take it prior to competing (yes, really!)
Anxieties relieved I’m now both determined and excited to breastfeed. Yet I’ve decided to keep a flexible and sensible approach to the whole process because the last thing I want to do is put pressure on myself. (Studies have shown that the more stressed you are, the less Oxytocin you’re likely to produce- otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone- which is vital to producing lots of breast milk)
Because the simple truth of the matter is that if for whatever reason, breastfeeding doesn’t work out, I’ll just use formula and you know what, the world will still be here in the morning! Because when did you ever meet anyone in your adult life, who didn’t get a great education or an amazing new promotion, all because they were given formula as a baby instead of breastmilk?
I would encourage any new Mum to do their research thoroughly, before deciding that breastfeeding isn’t for them. As much as it might frustrate, there
are thousands is a reason why the NHS rolled out the campaign “Breast is Best.” But that said, it doesn’t mean that you or I, are any less of a woman or a Mother for deciding to use formula.
All newborn babies need is love, care, and milk. Whether the latter comes from you or a cow, your baby really won’t mind!