You may have read my previous blog entry “10 Things I Hate About Breastfeeding” wrote when my baby was 3 months old. New mums fear not, it gets better. To illustrate the change in experience as the breastfeeding journey unfolds, here is a piece I wrote as my baby celebrated her first birthday: 10 (Selfish) Things I Love About Breastfeeding. As we all know about the health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby I won’t go into those.
- KER-CHING! Not lining the pockets of Cow & Gate every week means I can spend more money on a brand new pair of Jimmy Choos Lelli Kelly. Not only do breastfeeding mums save money from not having to buy formula, bottles, measuring devices, steriliser and bottle brushes, they also save money on not having to buy menstrual products. Most exclusively breastfeeding mums have no periods. Double ker-ching!
- GUILT-FREE. Because I know there is no better alternative to breastfeeding I know that when little Amy comes home in sixteen years with a D in Economics it wasn’t because she was deprived of my docasahexaenoic acid. Also, fresh breastmilk will never be recalled for being contaminated with bacteria or insects. Moreover, breastfeeding is environmentally friendly. No wrappers, canisters, disposable bottles mean no guilt in that department either.
- PERMISSION TO BE LAZY REST. Every nursing mum knows that when you start breastfeeding the sofa becomes your permanent residence, your best friend, your throne. You have absolutely no choice but to let others cater to your every need. Drinks made, dinner served, house cleaned, shopping bought, cushions plumped.
- WAISTLINE. Breastfeeding releases hormones which cause your uterus to shrink more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. The uterus of non-breastfeeding mothers will never shrink back. It will always remain slightly enlarged (Chua S, Arulkumaran S, Lim I et al. “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994; 101:804-805). Furthermore, breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day (double that if you’re nursing twins). Unlike Weightwatchers, Slimming World and Jenny Craig, breastfeeding is proven to enhance your figure (Kramer, F., “Breastfeeding reduces maternal lower body fat.” J. Am Diet Assoc 1993; 93(4):429-33). What’s more, having a va-va-voom cleavage flatters your thinning waistline even more.
- NATURE’S SPLIFF. Breastfeeding makes you high, in a pleasant, calm, serene way. Nursing stimulates the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin in the mother’s body. These hormones relax the nursing mum and make her feel more nurturing toward her baby. The effect is similar to cannabis yet legal and you can do it in public. Furthermore, as the hormones are passed through the breast milk, nursing acts like a natural baby tranquilizer. Which leads us to…
- SLEEP. Whoever created the ‘lying down whilst breastfeeding’ position needs a Mumsnet award or something because it has preserved the sanity of many. Baby has the audacity to request feeding at 3am? Just lie down, pop her on your breast and resume kip. When the feed is finished Dad can place now-sleeping babe back into her cot without you even noticing. Aside from activating oxytocin and prolactin, breastmilk stimulates your baby’s body to produce a hormone called cholecystokinin (CKK). CKK relaxes your baby and helps her sleep. No stumbling around the kitchen faffing around with bottles and kettles whilst babe cries the house down (swallowing air in the process). Moreover, because breastmilk is easier to digest (it’s an intestinal soother), baby has less stomach upsets, less tears and consequently everyone can enjoy more sleep.
- CONVENIENCE. No bottles to wash and sterilise. No kettles to boil or formula to measure. No mixing, heating or refrigerating. No trying to find space for all this paraphernalia. No having to choose between brands. No worrying that the feed is at the correct temperature. No remembering to pack feeds when you go out. No having to come home early because you have ran out of feeds.
- IRRITATION OF MOTHER IN LAW. Chances are your mother in law didn’t breastfeed and chances are she’ll go into matriarch-mode and nag to look after the baby. This combination creates the perfect setting for some role reversal – you can be the irritant for a change! If you normally breastfeed discretely in public, be a little less-discrete when MIL is around. Answer her nags with, no you won’t be buying any bottles so she can ‘have a go’ and no your baby won’t be able to stay overnight for quite some time. Thank MIL for the kind offers but say if she really wants to help there’s a pile of ironing that needs doing. Whilst we’re on the subject of annoying your MIL, read on…
- EVACUATION OF UNWANTED GUESTS. Nothing clears a room faster than the click of a bra strap and announcing “I need to put baby on the breast now”. This is especially useful during those first few weeks as guests swamp your house when all you want to do is curl up and die. My Father in Law thought breast feeding was disgusting – it was fab. All I had to do was wip out a boob and he would leave the room. I don’t think I spent more than 5 minutes in his company.
- POO. The poo of breastfed babies has a ‘less-offensive’ odour than the poo of formula-fed babies. Some have likened it to buttermilk. You’ll especially appreciate this when you’re on a crowded bus and baby has a good old ‘poo up the back’. Furthermore, when baby has a poo and is greeted by happiness rather than a grimace from the nappy-changer this boosts their self-esteem (according to Dr Sears).
More to come I’m sure.