We hear an awful lot about breastfeeding being great for babies and great for moms. It reduces the incidence of all sorts of illnesses such as ear infections and gastroenteritis in the baby and ovarian cancer in mothers. Breastfeeding is the biologically normal way to feed a baby, and as such it promotes optimal human development. But breastfeeding is about more than the milk. There are some hidden benefits of breastfeeding that researchers can’t quite test or pinpoint with double-blind trials. I thought I’d name just a few for me, and perhaps you’d like to add some comments about your own.
First, travel. I live so far away from any family members that I do an awful lot of travelling. When I’m on a flight, breasfteeding my baby is so easy. We can do it discretely and comfortably, and people around me hardly notice. The sucking action helps relieve the pressure on his ears during take-off and landing, I don’t need to wait for the seat-belt sign to go off to retrieve any feeding equipment and no one needs to heat up a bottle for me. If we’re driving, we just pull over in a safe place and I pop him on the breast.
Second, it’s free. I’m not a person who enjoys shopping and I am frugal by nature. What sort of equipment does a breastfeeding mom actually need? Very little, I would argue. I spent my working life with destitute people. They couldn’t afford snazzy nursing bras or high-tech breast pads let alone an expensive pump or nursing cover. They got on just fine thank you with a regular bra, a cut up towel or tissues and a blanket. Now I’m not saying that we should all throw away the stuff that makes breasfteeding more convenient like bras and breast pads. What I’m saying here is that breastfeeding is a great equaliser: all women can do it regardless of social status. You don’t need to spend money to breastfeed. I saved money by breastfeeding my babies and enjoyed the simplicity of staying out of the shops.
Third, it was something I couldn’t forget. With three children to get out the door every day I would always forget something, and usually something important. Some days I would look in the rear-view mirror and count heads and thank my lucky stars that I had remembered all three children! Fortunately I can’t forget my breasts– they’re attached, so the cafe travels with me. My baby can have a drink whenever he needs it and I don’t have to root in my bag (where there is inevitably a mouldy banana lurking) to discover I forgot it. Phew!
Lastly (but certainly not the least– in the interest of space I am stopping here!), I love good food and serving my family healthy food with natural ingredients. I try not to buy foods that have long ingredient lists, foods that make health claims, or ones that have ingredients that I don’t recognise or can’t pronounce. My milk is the ultimate in simple, pleasurable, delicious, healthy food for my infant. It is exactly what he was hoping would be on special that day and every day.
So that’s my short list of what I love about breastfeeding my baby– the hidden benefits for me. What about you?
Photo credit: Flickr.
About Lisa Hassan Scott
Lisa Hassan Scott is a stay at home mother of three little ones, age 2, 6 and 9. An American living in Great Britain for over 15 years, Lisa is a Yoga teacher certified by the British Wheel of Yoga, and a La Leche League Leader. She blogs about mothering, breastfeeding, Yoga and the mind at http://www.lisahassanscott.co.uk. Follow her on Twitter: @lisahassanscott