More than milk

File:Mother and Child, 1912.jpg

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.

Lisa Hassan Scott

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


17 thoughts on “More than milk”

  1. Hi Lisa!

    Love your writing. Love your blog. Couldn’t agree more with this article.

    I could go on and on about the benefits of breastfeeding for me. With Elise, I pumped exclusively. It worked for us. With Tristan, I breastfeed the “traditional” way. For me, breastfeeding is all about saving time. I have more time with Elise. I spend no time pumping or washing bottles. Life just feels simpler and easier.

    And to add to what you said about travel — TSA doesn’t have to inspect your breastmilk when you go through security! (unless it’s in a bottle, of course)

  2. I am with you on all these points, especially the last one. What I’ve loved about

    breastfeeding that I didn’t anticipate pre-baby is the convenience. It’s such a great portable soothing and nurturing tool!

  3. Thank you Kate! It’s so wonderful to see you here across so many miles. I’m glad you’re enjoying reading the blog and I really appreciate your comments. The Christmas card was beautiful– your little ones are obviously thriving on your milk! Good for you.

    Love,

    Lisa

  4. Hello Amelia,

    Thanks for sharing your blog and your thoughts. There’s something so satisfying about sharing good food!

    All the best,

    Lisa

  5. I am so with you on the traveling. We went on a trip with several family members, one of whom was formula feeding. She had at least two extra bags of supplies for feeding her child. We only needed one large bag for two adults and a 3 month old. Plus, when we were out and about and my SIL didn’t pack enough food, we had to stop and find a place to buy more. Too much hassle for me.

  6. I love breast feeding, I love the comfort it gives when nothing else will, the instant soother when ill, and the security of knowing that even if fussy and not interested in eating. My baby is still getting the nutrients she needs

  7. one of the things i really love about breastfeeding is that even though mira is older now {9mos}, and doesn’t like to be held like a baby the way she used to….during those few minutes when she is awake and eating she lets me cradle her and looks up at me with those same eyes she made when she was a newborn. it is very special. also very nice to be able to nurse/cuddle her to sleep at nap time, and when around extended family and she wants to come back to me or i want her back i can just say…oh she’s hungry…and sneak away to another room for some quality time. bf has been incredible rewarding for us. it is free…but i would pay whatever it cost for this experience.

  8. My first baby was only 18 months old when I delivered my second; as a baby wearing breasting mama I was able to nurse my new baby while still being focused on my sensitive older baby while walking in the woods, at the playground or a museum.

  9. In the beginning months, I noticed breastfeeding had a marked effect on me…inside I was feeling rather raw and “jagged” around the edges, perhaps because the birth had been a bit traumatic….but while breastfeeding I felt soothed and happier, likely the oxytocin and prolactin. It was remarkable and I marveled at how breastfeeding was so good for both baby and mom!

  10. From the time we are girls, we are taught that that primary value of our bodies is how we look: how closely we match the beauty “ideal”, and how attractive our bodies are to men. I always felt, from adolescence on, that my body, especially my breasts, fell short of this ideal Like birthing them, breastfeeding my two babies gave me profound respect and appreciation for my body’s real purpose. I am awed by my body’s ability to grow and nourish these two perfect creatures. I regret the years wasted on feeling inadequate. I am grateful to my flat breasts for what they accomplished, and I’ll never feel the same about them. I feel powerful. Breastfeeding gave me that.

  11. For me, the best part was the relaxation I felt when nursing an irritable toddler. Thank goodness for those hormones! I don’t know how others survived those tantrums but I don’t think I could have done it without prolactin! Breastfeeding her just changed the whole mood of the situation time and time again, and made me a much better mom than I would have been!

  12. My daughter is 5 months old, and we’ve lost electricity/heat 3 times since she was born. Since I’m breast feeding, I never had to worry about warming bottles or not being able to feed my baby.

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