When we were in the hospital after Ellen’s birth we received a customary visit from the hospital’s lactation consultants. Since I was a veteran they mostly just made chitchat, but when they asked how long I’d breastfed Cooper they got all sorts of excited. “You breastfed for a year? That is awesome! You’re super mom!” I was afraid they were going to pin a big ribbon to my chest and parade me around the maternity ward that’s how excited they were. Who knew my tendencies to be frugal and lazy could earn me such a title? I’d thought that I was just a typical mom, not one of those fringe moms that breastfeeds her toddler and newborn at the same time. But as other moms have confided in me and as I’ve looked at the statistics, I’ve realized that I’m actually more of a fringe mom than I’d thought.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve been really surprised at how crazy conversations on topics such as breastfeeding can get. Just check out the comments on pretty much any article or forum about breastfeeding and you’ll see what I mean. Yikes. I definitely don’t want to jump into that mudslinging battle. At the risk of offending someone I almost didn’t publish this post, but well, here we go.
I’ve always been a fairly prudish person and never would have thought that I would be passionate about my right to expose myself in public, but I’m coming to find that I actually am kind of passionate about it. When I first started nursing Cooper I was really bashful about breastfeeding. I pumped bottles to take to church the first couple of months of his life and spent way too much time hiding in gross bathrooms or hot cars. The first time I nursed in public I did it out of pure necessity because we had an out of control baby and at least an hour left on our bus ride. I was surprised at what a non-issue it was. In fact, people were probably happier since my baby was no longer crying. For months I had been imposing this completely unnecessary inconvenience on myself. Once I fully embraced my rights as a breastfeeding mother, breastfeeding suddenly became the best thing in the world.
I know that there are some legitimate reasons why some women cannot breastfeed (you adopted, medically you are unable, etc.) and I don’t hold that against you (and you shouldn’t either), but for those that are just hesitant, here are some of the lesser discussed reasons why breastfeeding is awesome and you should give it a serious go:
- Breastfeeding is Free. Free! Why anyone would voluntarily decide to buy formula makes absolutely no sense to me financially speaking.
- Breastfeeding is Simple. You don’t have to remember to buy anything from the store and you don’t have to remember to pack bottles or deal with warming up water. You can literally be one of the spaciest, most ill-prepared people alive and still provide a meal for your child without any thought or planning on your part.
- Breastfeeding is Convenient. You don’t have to plan your outings around places that have hot water available. Also, you don’t have to anticipate when your baby is going to be hungry or deal with a screaming baby while you prepare a bottle. Once the baby starts to fuss you can plop right down wherever you are whether it’s the side of a trail in the mountains or a bench in Ikea. (Both of which I have done.)
- Breastfeeding Burns Extra Calories. This can help you lose some of that baby weight, or at least help you not feel too guilty when you eat a second (or third) brownie.
- Breastfeeding Gains You Friends. Breastfeeding moms tend to congregate. I’ve had wonderful conversations with other nursing moms at the park and one of my favorite things about church (other than the spiritual enlightenment of course) is hanging out with other moms in the “Mother’s Room.” It kind of feels like we have our own special club and I’ve made so many friends this way.
- Breastfeeding Gets You Time to Yourself. I’m generally not shy about breastfeeding (with the aid of a cover or blanket of course), but sometimes if I just want to be alone, breastfeeding is always a good excuse to get away from everyone else. No one ever argues with you when you say you need to step out to feed your baby.
- Breastfeeding Gives You a Sense of Empowerment. There’s just something amazing about how a woman’s body is able to effortlessly create the perfect meal for her little one. And if you’re a prude like me, you may find you kind of get a rush from nursing in public. It just feels so edgy 🙂
I’ll also admit that being a nursing mom isn’t all sunshine and roses. My issues have been few and easily manageable, but I know moms that have persevered through much worse and still recommend it.