Deciding to Breastfeed
Before I begin to write anything in this hub, I want to point out that I absolutely love nursing. Choosing to nurse my daughter was one of the best decisions that I have ever made and I would make it again and again.
I am not, however, what you would consider a "proponent" of breastfeeding. I am not a "lactivist." I'm not the type to stand on a street corner and scream at a woman about how she has to breast feed.
I feel that this is a very individual choice. There are a vast many reasons why a woman would choose to breast feed and many reasons why she would choose to formula feed. Formula fed babies are no less intelligent, healthy and loved than breastfed babies.
This hub is, however, essentially about breastfeeding. My purpose is to help to support you in making the decision to breastfeed and to encourage you to stick to your guns even when you are feeling discouraged.
Are there any Drawbacks to Breastfeeding?
If you take a wander around the web, you will probably find it pretty easy to find information on the incredible benefits of breastfeeding. Like those sites, I will list some of the wonderful benefits here, but as I hope to take a balanced approach to the issue, I want to point out that there are a few drawbacks to breastfeeding, and you don't often hear about them.
- Nusing is natural, but it isn't easy. Many women need help to do it properly and in a way that doesn't cause them pain and cracked nipples.
- If you plan to go back to work after the baby is a bit older, you will need to express breast milk. This can be time consuming.
- If you spend time out of the house at all, and don't plan on giving your baby a bottle, you will need to be able to nurse in public (NIP). Many women are uncomfortable with this.
- Friends and family may be uncomfortable with you nursing. My mother sometimes wanted me to go into a private room in my own home.
I was very blessed with my daughter: She was a good nurser and we didn't need any help. I am a stay at home mom and therefore didn't need to worry about the pump (until later, anyway) and I don't have a problem with nursing in public. The big issue was my family, who were offended by my breasts.
What are the Benefits?
Chances are that you know the primary benefits of breastfeeding, as these are easy to find anywhere on the internet or even in your doctor's office. There are, however, some additional benefits that you might not realize.
- Breastfeeding will help you to bond with your baby. There is nothing like skin to skin contact!
- When you nurse, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone is a "feel good" hormone and may help to prevent post partum depression.
- Breastfeeding burns calories and causes the uterus to contract. It can, therefore, help you to lose weight faster after giving birth.
- Because of the higher calorie requirement while breastfeeding, some women can use this as an excuse to indulge a little bit!
- Breastfeeding is convenient. You will never have to fumble around in the dark for bottles, warm anything up, etc. You simple latch the baby on and go!
Do I Need to Buy Anything to Breastfeed?
You will need nursing bras. If you are planning on exclusively nursing, you probably won't need anything but appropriate clothing in which to nurse, which includes nursing bras and tops that give easy access. Button-down dresses work, too, because you can unbutton them down far enough to nurse. There are also dresses and blouses that have a panel for modest nursing.
If you are going to be returning to work, you may also want to obtain a breast pump and several bottles so that someone other than you can feed the baby when necessary. There are a variety of pumps on the market, but I strongly recommend purchasing a good electric pump such as the Medela Pump in Style or renting a Symphony or Lactina (also by Medela) from the hospital where you deliver.