Reasons to Breastfeed

The first week after bringing the baby home was tough!  My baby honestly nursed every hour, sometimes more often, for long stretches of time (30-40 minutes at a time).  That means I had a 20 minute break sometimes before her next feeding.  When crying tears of exhaustion and frustration during a 2 am feeding, those formula samples (which seem to arrive from all directions) are pretty tempting.

My plan is to nurse for 6 months with no supplementing until she is showing interest in table food.  I don’t plan to use a lot of “baby food” to introduce solids.  Key words, “plan”.

There are a million arguments “for” breastfeeding.  There are also a million problems that can discourage a mother from breastfeeding.  Two weeks into nursing my second child, I’m remembering all the reasons I chose this in the first place, and all the issues that led me to supplement with formula last time.  Yes, it’s good for your baby.  It’s actually probably the best for your baby (unless there is some health issue).  But, when you’re frustrated and tired, when you feel like nothing but a food-providing slave, it’s nice to remember that you’re also benefiting yourself.

  1. It’s free!!  There are a lot of ways that you can spend money because of breastfeeding:  nursing clothes, nursing covers, nursing pads, breast pumps, creams and ointments… but breastfeeding itself costs nothing.  Women did it long before they had access to any of the luxuries we have today.
  2. It makes you skinny.  I gained 27 pounds during this pregnancy.  After 15 days, I had already lost 26 pounds without even lifting a finger.. imagine what I’d be capable of doing if I tried exercising!!
  3. Again, it makes you skinny.  Breastfeeding makes your uterus contract, which helps your belly go back down to a normal size faster.  Fair warning:  With my first baby, this felt like menstrual cramps.  With my second, this felt like full-blown labor pain.  Apparently, it’s called “after pains” and they tend to get worse with each subsequent pregnancy.
  4. You bleed less.  Because your uterus contracts faster, your bleeding tends to stop sooner than it would without the extra contractions.  Who wouldn’t want that?
  5. Again, you bleed less.  Your period probably won’t come back until after you stop breastfeeding.  Who wouldn’t want THAT?  (Disclaimer:  this does not mean you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding)
  6. Dibs.  You automatically get dibs on holding and cuddling your newborn.  There can be hoards of loving relative and friends lined up outside your hospital room waiting to hold your little one.  And visitors are nice.  But you, Mom, get to hold her and cuddle her every single time she’s hungry, no matter whose turn it is to visit.
  7. It saves water (and time).  You don’t need to wash and sterilize bottles and nipples.  You don’t need to buy a fancy dishwasher basket to hold all your bottle accessories.  Breastmilk doesn’t stain clothing (or sheets, or burp cloths, or bibs) with the yellow staining that results from formula-spit-up.  So, you don’t have to prewash or rewash anything that gets a spill on it.  Breastfed-baby-bowel-movements wash right out of cloth diapers, so they do not need dunked or rinsed before you wash them.
  8. It makes packing a little easier.  You never need to worry about whether or not you brought enough food for your babe.  It gives you more freedom to worry about running out of diapers, or wipes, or clean clothes!


40 thoughts on “Reasons to Breastfeed”

  1. I LOVE that you added ‘dibs’ Seriously, this was one of my most favorite reasons to breast feed!

    Although the 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 am feedings, sometimes sucks you are the only one that can quiet your baby. But those feedings do not last for long.

  2. Aw, congrats! My son is barely over a year and we still have bed time feedings (weaned off the others). Those are excellent reasons, and I totally feel you. There were so many times I looked at those free formula samples – so I gave them to someone with twins and the thought never crossed my mind again! My son started trying food around 5 months out of curiosity, but didn’t actually start solids till about 7 months because of the breast. He’s been SO happy and healthy all around the entire time, so I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way!

  3. I totally agree with you on the packing thing! I’m an exclusive pumper as breastfeeding just did not work out, so not only do I have to pack bottles with me everywhere I go, but I also have to pack the breastpump, and the 5 sets of pumping supplies that I bought so I wouldn’t have to keep washing them over and over throughout the day. If I could have just breastfeed the old fashioned way, I certainly would have! I totally agree with you on all the benefits of breastfeeding, and I’m so happy that even though I am pumping instead of breastfeeding, I am still reaping the many benefits including the calories I’m burning! I’m your newest follower from the Mommy Brain Mixer hop. Great to “meet” you.

    1. Oh no! Thanks for pointing that out! I just switched over to this new website and I completely forgot to add the “follow me” buttons! They should be in the right side-bar now. Kudos on being an exclusive pumper – I don’t think I could do it!!

  4. Om-goodness! Tell me about #3!!! My youngest is 2 weeks old (third child) and boy those “after pains” had me in tears 😦 I had her 100% natural -med free- I can handle that because I’m getting something out of that, a beautiful blessing but those “after pains”….No! Can’t handle them! There’s nothing but pain coming from them, lol!

    1. Ugh, I hear you, believe me! Those after pains are not fun. But…they are purposeful, in that your uterus is shrinking back down to it’s normal size. Which is very, very necessary and as it gets smaller so does your bleeding. And that’s a good thing! When they start to hurt….try to visualize your uterus shrinking, LOL. Maybe that will help 🙂

      1. Distractions do help 🙂 And you eventually forget about them. Someone told me that if we didn’t forget we’d never have more kids!

  5. Good for you girl! I breastfed my son until 15 months–well into my 2nd pregnancy–and with my daughter (almost 7 months) we’re still going strong, no solids. You can do it! I love your list 🙂

  6. Be careful with bold statements. I said the exact same things. And my daughter was exclusively formula fed after 6 weeks which saved my sanity and hers. And it was the best decision we could have made. All best but don’t lose the forest for the trees- remember its most important for both mom AND baby to be happy and well rested. The number one thing I have learned through the gift of children is to be flexible!

    1. Oh yes! The key word is “plan” 🙂 That is pretty much what I did with my son, because I was in school AND working and it was just too much. Now I’m not in school, only working *(maybe, I haven’t made the final decision yet) so my “hopes” are to go a little longer with nursing (and save some money on formula)!!

    1. I’m really hoping to go straight to table foods with this baby. I think baby food is part of the reason that my son is such a picky eater. Most baby food is gross when you get into the third stage meals. I will do baby led weaning which is what I did with my son. But, if I’m working and pumping, I will probably be so tired and frustrated by six-months that I will switch to formula during the day while I’m working and only nurse at night (which is also what I did with my son, just much sooner than 6 months). Julia is right – if mom isn’t well rested it’s not working!

  7. My “baby” is now four years old and I miss the breastfeeding days! It was such a wonderful time in my life (I’ve nursed all of my babies, so I’ve got quite a few year’s experience!) Love this post ~ thanks for sharing.
    mom to nine 🙂

  8. I love all your reasons, and I LOVE nursing! I’m so glad you linked up to the Mixer and I hope to see you again on Thursday! Also, come on by and enter to win a super adorable Thirty-One bag or some awesome discounts on a Thirty-One order! 🙂

    1. Thanks! I saw the post about the organizer this morning on my phone and forgot to go back and enter! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  9. What a great post! I’m a new follower 🙂 I love breastfeeding too…I’ve been nursing nonstop for 24 months now (my 3rd and now 4th baby!) and even though it can be exhausting it is so special and worth it!

    1. It is so special. DH always points out “the look of pure love” she has when she looks into my eyes while nursing. It’s an amazing connection.

  10. hi there! i just want to encourage you that it does get so much easier!! and in my opinion can be even easier than formula (i actually just wrote why i think breastfeeding my twins is easier than formula feeding them). and it’s also very easy to skip “baby foods”. i love baby led weaning style of feeding. it has made my life so much easier but even if that’s not for you it’s very simple to carry around a little baby food mill and grind up whatever you are having even if you are out at a restaurant. anyway congrats on your new little one. and you can do this!!

    1. With twins I can definitely see how breastfeeding would be simplier! Imagine twice the dirty dishes, twice the bottle making, twice the money spent on formula!! I didn’t know they made small baby food mills, either. That would be so convenient!

    1. And it means you get to sit down!! I have to admit, I often insist that the baby needs to go be in the air conditioning when she eats, mainly because I’m hot and sweaty and want to sit in front of the cold air!!

    1. I remember feeling that way for a bit – it’s most definitely a hormone thing for me. One day I’d wanted to be left alone and the next I was sad because we didn’t have any visitors 🙂

  11. Nice list! Congratulations on your new baby!

    Another advantage on my list was reading time. After a couple weeks when my baby became able to support his own head, I had a hand free to hold a book. I love to read and really enjoyed the “excuse” to have many reading times every day and take my baby on a walk to the library each week.

    1. I’m always impressed when I hear people can use a computer while nursing… I’m still working on being able to hold a book with one hand!

  12. Yes! Love this post. And the “dibs” reason is my favorite too. (Plus, it’s easier than making all those bottles!) I do understand how so many women give up though. With my first, who was nursing every hour and a half round the clock for a while, I was desperately exhausted, and tried to give him bottles. He wouldn’t take the bottles! So I was forced to continue breastfeeding, and within a few weeks, I was the happiest breastfeeding mom in the world. Found you at the Mom’s Mingle bloghop. New follower!

  13. I was unable to breastfeed due to inverted nipples and a poor latch from baby. While I agree that breastfeeding is best, my daughter is in the 100 percentile in height and weight and has been formula fed since day one. Not everyone has a CHOICE in breastfeeding, and we shouldnt look down on anyone that formula feeds. What works for one does not always work for another.

    1. I agree that we shouldn’t look down on anyone who formula feeds. I tried, in this post, to explain why I think formula feeding is more difficult. Kudos to anyone who deals with all of those bottles, especially the ones you make in the middle of the night!!

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