Why Do You Breastfeed?

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3054278216_ef309bba04When I was pregnant with our first baby and I announced my intention to breastfeed, my husband had no opinion of his own about it, but supported me. “Whatever you want to do is fine!”

When that baby was born several months later, he had multiple problems nursing in the beginning, and was a trial to nurse throughout. However, my husband never wavered in his support and help, and avidly listened to every new wondrous thing I learned about breastfeeding.

“Did you know it helps his eyesight?”
“He has less chance of becoming obese because he breastfed!”
“I’m reducing my risk of getting breast cancer!”

He soon became an active supporter of breastfeeding, and offered advice to his friends becoming new dads.

So early in my second pregnancy, I decided to play a joke.

He was chopping vegetables in the kitchen when I came up to him.

“You know, I’ve been thinking. With all the problems I had breastfeeding our son, gosh, I just really don’t think I’m up to doing all that again. Seriously. It was just so hard and I just can’t do that again!”

I fully expected him to give me a weird look as he knows my devotion to breastfeeding, but still give me the line about how it’s my decision and he’ll support whatever I decide.

Instead, he put down the knife, turned and looked at my face-to-face and said, “No. I want you to breastfeed this baby! I don’t want one smart kid and one dumb kid!”

I immediately started cracking up: my attempt at a joke gone awry, my utter shock and glee at his response, and the simply the humor of his takeaway message about the difference in IQ point potential.

The second baby was indeed breastfeed for two-and-a-half years. I never considered not doing that.

In talking to new moms over the years, there seems to be multiple reasons why people choose to breastfeed:

  • Most moms I’ve talked to say their main reason was that it’s healthier for the baby.
  • Some are drawn to the financial; breastmilk is cheaper than formula.
  • Some women are drawn to the natural-ness of it. Nothing artificial.
  • Others love the convenience.
  • One woman I spoke to said she didn’t enjoy it at all, but kept doing it because she knew it was better for the baby.

A lot of moms don’t realize the hundreds of benefits of breastfeeding until they research it. I myself learned so much more from one La Leche League meeting than I ever learned from the three books I read before going to my first LLL meeting.

My opinion about that is that it doesn’t matter what your reason is for breastfeeding; if it convinces you to breastfeed, it’s a good reason!

Why do or did you breastfeed?

photo credit: Benklocek

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Author: sarah

Sarah has been involved with API since 2002. She is the mother of two school-aged kids.

18 thoughts on “Why Do You Breastfeed?”

  1. I think my primary reason was the natural-ness. Not necessarily in the sense of “non-artificial” but more in respect for this amazing thing my body was designed to do. It seemed like an honor I wasn’t going to pass up.

    Next, of course, I did my research and learned how much better it was for me and the baby. I girded myself with this information in order to get through the “hard early days” I was expecting.

    I was blessed to be one of the women who had no breastfeeding problems. No latch problems, no supply issues (besides too much! I could pump 10 oz in 10 minutes!), no clogged ducts, no pain, etc.

    Now, if you asked me why I would nurse a second child, my primary reason would be: Nursing is the absolute best part of mothering! (second being co-sleeping and I think they go hand-in-hand). Knowing what I know now about the experience of nursing I would do it through problems. I would do it if breast was not best but equal to alternatives.

    I’m not saying artificial feeding methods preclude bonding but I can’t imagine anything better than my toddler walking up to me with a big smile and signing “milk” with exuberance! Priceless!

  2. Human milk is for humans! I BF because that is what is natural and normal. Formula is man made and is not normal. I am also lazy. No way my kid would eat in the middle of the night if I had to get off my lazy bum to make and heat up a bottle. There is no waiting and crying as I prepare their bottle it is ready when they are. Also my kids will be more healthy, reduce their risk of breast cancer, be thin, and smart. I figure if the least i could do is pop a boob in their mouth and give them the best nourishment on the planet to better them for their future I can so do that. I also reduce my risk of breast cancer and bond with my children like no one else can. It is our special time. I have been nursing 2.5years with my two girls.

  3. I breastfed my first child for 18 months and plan to breastfeed the baby due in June for at least that long. My first breastfeeding relationship was 99.9% boob to baby, but this time around we are going to have to pump and give bottles on the regular, due to sporadic work outside the home work and grad school. I always was motivated by the fact that my body was made to make milk for my babies, it is the most natural thing in the world. Once you get past the hard early days, it really is so much easier than bottle feeding. Between cloth diapers and breastfeeding- we most have saved a ton of money we could use for other things.

  4. I think the question should rather be why not breastfeed.
    From when I was a teen, I knew I was going to breastfeed my child. I come from a BF friendly family.
    Frankly, I don’t understand how one chooses to not breastfeed. To me, it’s like choosing not to pee and have a catheter instead.
    Now about duration of BF, that’s another question.

  5. Almost all of the answers above!

    – It’s healthier & it’s what’s “normal”.
    – My belief is that formula is there for situations where one is truly unable to breastfeed.
    – It’s so convenient – no sterilizing, no measuring, no mixing.
    – It’s an amazing bonding experience with my daughter.
    – I will be saving around $2000, according to a recent study done.

    I’m so proud to have been able to successfully breastfeed my daughter. I worked very hard & dealt with several issues during the first couple of months of her life (latch & supply issues mainly) that I can’t imagine making the switch to formula. My daughter is now 9 months & I plan on breastfeeding as long as possible.

  6. I am currently breastfeeding my first child, he is 7 months old. I am the first woman in my family for 4 generations to even attempt breastfeeding. So it was a very hard decision to make, with so little support. But now I can’t imagine what it would be like to not breastfeed. It is so convenient, natural, and makes for great cuddle time!

  7. It was absolutely the health benefits for my child. I was prepared to hate it. The thought of it was a bit weird. I don’t know why. Maybe I am a product of our society that sexualizes breasts to the extent we lose sight of their primary function. Or maybe I have my own hangups, lol. However despite initial difficulties, I have loved the experience and would absolutely breastfeed again. I think now I also appeciate the feelings of continuing to grow my baby myself (the ‘naturalness’). Turns out I’m an Earth Mother – who knew?!

  8. I am currently breastfeeding my 14 month old and I have loves and enjoyed every moment of it… I breastfed because I know its the best thing I can give to my baby and I love the bond He and I have created… I will breastfeed my sencond one!

  9. I breastfeed for the bonding, the boldness of doing what is sometimes frowned upon, and because I think it’s a healthy option for my baby.

    There is one more reason I don’t think anyone above said… I work full-time, so breastmilk provides antibodies that protect my baby from the germs to which he’s exposed at daycare.

  10. Of course I knew it was what was best for my baby, and never considered any other options even after he was born 2 months premature. Thankfully he knew just what to do- I was clueless- and he nursed for just over 2 years. We both enjoyed the bonding and the comfort.

    I will be completely honest and admit to laziness as a huge motivating factor, though. Breastfeeding and cosleeping got me through colic, reflux, and developmental and grwoth spurts. I think I would have gone insane through lack of sleep otherwise. More nights than I can recall were spent with him constantly latched. He wasn’t interested in anything more than the occasional cracker until almost age 2, and being able to go anywhere with just a couple of spare diapers and not much else was awesome.

  11. Cheap and convenient. I formula-fed first, mixed second, and exclusively breastfeeding the third.

    My formula fed babies are healthy. Yes breastmilk is better for you but I also don’t believe there’s anything wrong with formula feeding.

  12. My first is only three months old. I am very proud to say that she is 99% breast fed (slight jaundice issues at the very beginning led her to have a bit of formula). It wasn’t easy. After five weeks of very sore nipples we saw a LC who diagnosed my baby’s slight tongue tie, which led to almost three weeks of pumping before we even tried the breast again. She is now back on the breast only receiving a bottled of pumped breast milk while I am at work.
    I never thought of not breastfeeding, even during the three weeks of round the clock pumping. The health benefits are wonderful and so many of which are still not fully understood. I love the closeness of it and the bonding too.

  13. Definitely for the benefits to his physical and mental health. I love the bonding that takes place, and the way I can see him developing trust that mommy will always be there to take care of him.

  14. I did not enjoy breastfeeding. I plan to write a post about what to do when you don’t like it, and I think it’s important for women to realize that not every woman will have a warm and fuzzy experience with it. And that’s fine.

    I did it mostly for the cost and convenience factors. Followed closely by the lower risk of breast cancer for me. Both my children are extremely healthy, but I don’t think breastfeeding has much to do with that.

  15. Hearing the question made me think: what would a mother in a rural third-world place answer? She’d probably look at you like you were crazy for asking and have a hard time answering. Because if I didn’t, he’d be so hungry and would cry all the time! And then one of my sisters would have to do it.

    I’m just saying, how funny/sad that the question even needs to be asked.

  16. My desire to breastfeed and breastfeed until she was 3.5 years old was because I wanted her to get as many of the immuninity cells to help protect her in health throughout her life. I also considered it the natural choice. I am glad we did because of her mutliple allergies.

  17. I chose to breastfeed because of the health benefits and the financial benefits. I would feel like I wasn’t doing all I could to ensure my baby’s health if I chose to use formula (and that judgment only is directed at myself, not other moms who choose to formula feed. We all make the best choices we can for our kids based on the child’s and family’s needs.) That being said, I really don’t enjoy breastfeeding at all. I am committed to doing it for the next several years, but I go crazy from the back pain it causes (due to old injuries that healed badly) and the lack of time to get anything else done. But I am glad my daughter is getting healthy, nutritious nourishment that will provide her immune system with protection from illness.

  18. The question should be why no breastfeed. Is cheaper, easier, healthier for both mother and child.
    The reason why I wouldn’t wanted to breastfeed would be issues with my anatomy (latching, supply lack of support from my husband, feeling judged by other mothers, lack of societal support like no being able to BF anywhere the baby wanted to eat and so on.
    I do hope everyone that can BF is not opting out of it for reasons beyond her choice and control.

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