Originally Posted by ccohenou
I think it would be unfortunate to collapse our discussion of the benefits of breastfeeding down to the benefits of breast*milk* only. There's so much more.
I do think one has to consider the audience, though, as you said in your original post. As a general point of information, or part of persuading people who have not yet decided to breastfeed, or part of strengthening the commitment of people who have decided to breastfeed, I think the social/emotional aspects of breastfeeding are important and valid to discuss. How else do we understand a baby/child who nurses 'dry' through a pregnancy, a mother who produces little or no milk but feeds at the breast via supplementer, a 3 or 4-year-old who nurses a few times a week?
Thank you for bringing this up. As a mom who is making virtually no milk (less than 4 oz/day) and feeding with a lact-aid, bf'ing for me is ALL about the bond. That's the entire reason I'm doing it. Now, I know that my dd does get some physical benefits, even from the tiny amount I produce. But honestly, that was not even a factor in my decision to nurse her. It was all about the bond. (She is adopted, btw--I knew going into it that I would likely make very little milk.)
Interestingly, I'm not sure bf'ing has really been that instrumental in my bonding to my dd--it's too stressful right now for my emotions to be able to completely take over and for me to totally relax while nursing. I keep wondering where's that oxytocin everyone talks about.
I think it will be instrumental in the long-term, but right now I am too tired from lack-of sleep and constant lact-aid nursing sessions to really feel the effects. But it has had a definite impact on my dd's bond with me already. I see the comfort that she derives from nursing, and it is a very satisfying thing as a mother to experience her love of nursing. It is a really neat thing to see her wanting me
--wanting what only I can give. It has been humbling to realize that bf'ing is really not about me--it's about her.
With that said, I don't think that nursing is the only way to successfully bond. My ds was bottlefed after months of arduous effort to nurse, and he is just about as attached as a child can be (especially physically--he's a very "high touch" kid). I have a deep and connected relationship with him, too, and I can't imagine it being any better if I'd nursed him through toddlerhood instead of just 4 months.
I think bf'ing is just one tool, a very powerful tool, but not the only tool in the box. I think bonding is more about motivation than anything else. I think when we sacrifice for our kids, our love for them grows deeper. I think when tbey experience us meeting their needs, both physical and emotional, they feel more bonded to us.
Originally Posted by Learnintolaugh
What if instead of the bonding ‘argument’ you couched it in terms of how special it feels to look at your baby and know that you and you alone are responsible for their growth?
But even that is a separate issue from the bonding, or feelings of closeness from bf'ing. I will probably never be able to look at my baby and feel responsible for her growth. In fact, it is the opposite--I feel sad that my baby is getting virtually nothing from me as far as physical sustenance. Every time I nurse I am reminded of my lacking...but I continue because the emotional factors are so important to me and, I feel, to her.