Testament to Breastfeeding
Patricia Lynn Janes
Beachwood NJ USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 6, November-December 2001, p. 211
I could never have imagined how enjoyable and convenient breastfeeding could be before my daughter was born six months ago. Before Rose's birth, I had not thought much about breastfeeding. No one in my family had ever breastfed their babies, and I had never seen a baby being breastfed. Even up to the time of my daughter's delivery, I was still unsure of whether I would breastfeed or not. I figured I would give breastfeeding a try, believing that I probably would not be successful and would have to switch to formula anyway. In fact, I was somewhat embarrassed and uncomfortable with the idea of breastfeeding and of using my breasts. Additionally, I felt that breastfeeding would tie me down to my baby. Little did I know then about the freedom and liberation that my decision to breastfeed would give me.
Contrary to what I had expected, my breastfeeding experience has been positive. I could not have hoped for it to be any better. My baby gained weight rapidly, which increased my confidence that I was capable of making the amount of milk she needed. As a new mother who had no experience with babies, breastfeeding my baby gave me a closeness and a bond with her that increased my confidence in my mothering ability and my comfort in breastfeeding.
Secondly, breastfeeding has made night and early morning feedings easier, enabling me to have more time to rest. I could not think of any other way of feeding my baby. It is hard to imagine how I could have survived those early months if I'd had to get out of bed, exhausted, in order to mix, prepare, and feed a bottle of artificial milk, when it is so much simpler to lie in bed with my baby and feed her my own milk. Rather than draining me of my time and energy, breastfeeding has allowed me to devote more time and energy to nurturing my baby.
Thirdly, I am able to feed my baby on demand, whenever and wherever I want, when she is hungry. I do not have to plan ahead by preparing bottles of formula, nor do I have to make my baby wait while I warm a bottle. Additionally, I do not have to worry about measuring the amount of milk she drinks or time how long between feedings. Rose knows when she is hungry and she is the best judge of her nutritional needs, without measuring cups or clocks.
Many of my family, friends, and associates have commented on how healthy and contented Rose appears to be. She is energetic, strong, and does not cry very much. She is comfortable around people and very trusting. Nevertheless, to this very day, as my baby has just reached six months of age, I have well meaning family and friends who still tell me that it is time to wean my baby because I need to "get a life" and that formula feeding would be "easier on me." What they are not willing to realize is that breastfeeding my baby is what has made her the baby that they adore and compliment today. Far from holding me back and draining my energy, breastfeeding has given me more emotional strength, energy, and freedom than any other method could have ever done.