As Janna’s first birthday draws near, I have been thinking about how much she has grown. Her first year has been full of changes, but the one thing that has remained constant has been our nursing relationship. She continues to receive most of her nutrition through breast milk and I don’t anticipate the weaning process taking place anytime soon.
I have been a mother for 152 months (12 years & 8 months). During that time I have been breastfeeding for 121 months (10 years & 1 month) and counting. That means that I have been breastfeeding 80% of the time I have been a mother. Here’s the breakdown per child.
Janna-11 Months (& counting)
Obviously, I must think that breastfeeding is pretty important if I have been willing to spend so much time nursing my babies.
When I was pregnant for the first time I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. However, I never thought about things like weaning or how long I would actually nurse my babies, I was just determined to make it work. If you had told me then that I would breastfeed while being pregnant and nurse a 3 year old I might not have believed you.
I’m not going to lie and say that everything went smoothly with my first baby. She cried a lot and I felt like all I did was nurse. She lost 1/2 a pound and it took her until she was 2 weeks old to gain it back. While this is normal, it did make me worry about my milk supply. However, once she started gaining more quickly I was able to relax and enjoy our nursing times.
I have been blessed with a husband who is very supportive of breastfeeding and is much more opinionated than I am about mothers who choose not to nurse their babies.
While I would love to write a comprehensive post about breastfeeding, I have decided simply to give you a list of my top 10 reasons, in no particular order, why I breastfeed my babies.
10 Reasons Why I Breastfeed My Babies
1. Breastfeeding is convenient. When my babies are hungry my breast milk is always available and is always the right temperature. There are no bottles to wash, no formula to measure, and no midnight trips to the kitchen to fix a bottle.
2. Breast milk is free. There are no bottles to buy and I never have to worry about how expensive formula is.
3. Breast milk contains the perfect nutrition for my baby. My baby is not a baby cow, she is a baby human; therefore, she needs my breast milk. The composition of breast milk changes based on what my baby needs which makes it the perfect food. I am always amazed at God’s wonderful design of a mother’s body to be able to grow a baby and then provide it with nutrition after it is born.
4. Breastfeeding (for me) delays the return of my menstrual cycle and the return of fertility. The longest after giving birth my mentrual cycle has returned was 16 months and the shortest was 9 months. Either way, that is a long time to go without having a period. Not only that, my fertility doesn’t return until my babies are about 1 year old or older. This helps with child spacing. I realize that not everyone has this same experience but, with as much as I breastfeed during the first year, this is the case for me.
5. Breastfeeding is good for my health. By breastfeeding I am reducing my chances of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Nursing a baby helps reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage and helps shrink the uterus back to normal size more quickly. Breastfeeding also helps me lose the baby weight more quickly.
6. Breastfeeding is good for my baby’s health. Breastfeeding offers natural immunity to my babies. Breast milk is easier to digest than formula so it is gentler on my babies little tummies. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of my babies developing a whole host of illnesses and diseases including SIDS.
7. Breastfeeding is a great way to bond with my baby. I have seen mothers who prop up a bottle and give it to their babies without even picking them up or holding them close. To me, there is nothing so sweet as watching my little ones drift off into a milk induced slumber while I am holding them close.
8. When my babies are sick or hurt, breastfeeding makes them feel better. The worst part of being a mom is seeing our children hurting. Breast milk acts as a tranquilizer to calm down a hurting baby or toddler. Not only that, but there is no electrolyte solution better than breast milk when a baby is sick. When my son James was hospitalized at 13 months the only nutrition he received was my breast milk and I am convinced that helped him get better faster.
9. I don’t have to worry if I am under or over feeding my babies. While breasts don’t have a gauge so that you know how much you are feeding a baby, there are other ways to tell if a baby is nursing enough. Wet diapers and weight gain are two of the ways I know my babies are getting enough milk. Not only that, but because breastfed babies know when they have had enough to eat and aren’t being forced to finish a bottle, there is less chance they will become obese later in life.
10. There is just something so satisfying about being able to produce milk and feed my babies. Watching my babies double their weight by 4 months of age with nothing but breast milk is just amazing. I am thankful I have been able to give this gift to my children and that God created such a perfect way for me to feed my babies.
What if I have trouble breastfeeding? I recommend that you talk to your health care provider, your baby’s health care provider, a lactation consultant, women you know who have breastfed their babies, read books, and read articles on the internet. Don’t give up until you get someone to help you.
My sister-in-law was only 21 when she gave birth to my niece last year. She was determined to breastfeed and I am so proud of her (You have done a great job, Emily!). My niece was not gaining weight and we felt like there must be an issue, but we couldn’t figure it out. When my sister-in-law read this article about an upper labial tie, she knew that had to be what the problem was.
She was able to have my niece’s frenulum cut (not the same as tongue tie, but similar) and has been able to breastfeed ever since. So, just because a mother is young or things seem to not be working out with breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep up the nursing relationship.
Helpful Breastfeeding Sites
Previous Baby Basics Topics:
- A Brand New Baby
- Cord Care
- Newborn Skin Conditions
- Tummy Time
- Clothing a Newborn
- When You Suspect a Problem
- Essential Gear
- Knowing Your Baby
- Trimming Nails & Suctioning Noses
- Baby Learning
- Attachment Parenting
- Sleeping Like a Baby
- Traveling with Baby