The Breastfeeding Blip

A guest article written by Courtney Baros of Chicago-based Be By Baby.

baby formulaLet’s face it, we live convenient lives. I was walking down the grocery aisle and, within the course of 5 minutes I saw people texting, emailing, talking on their cell phones – instantaneously connecting with people all over the world and getting all kinds of information on just about anything. I started to look at the store itself and was amazed at the variety and selection – I mean, I could buy fifty different frozen, complete, microwavable meals that actually taste good! What a strange, super modern life we lead! We have it easy.

I took a turned down the baby aisle. Woah. There were dozens of enticing, sleekly packaged, easy-to-use formula containers lining the shelves telling me that I would be the best mom if only I used their product. When you have this kind of selection, why would anyone want to breastfeed? Isn’t that so, well, primitive?

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it – “breast is best.” The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association all agree that breastmilk is the healthiest choice for your kiddo for at least the first year.

But, why?

Well, let’s highlight some key reasons:

• Your baby gets immunities that last a lifetime (no formula has the amazing Immunoglobulin A), which means fewer doctors appointments
• The skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding helps the brain to develop at the proper time and helps your baby regulate heartbeat and temperature
• Breastmilk changes according to the age of your child and even the time of day. Amazing, but true – if you nurse a newborn and a toddler, you will get different milks based on who is nursing.
• It’s free and always available (you can save upwards of $800 per month)! AND, you don’t have to wash any bottles afterwards
• Breastfeeding mamas are 25% less likely to get breast cancer and less likely to get ovarian and uterine cancers as well as osteoporosis.
• Oh, and you lose baby weight much faster – bonus!

If you think about it, the truth is breastmilk has it all. In fact, it’s more modern than any modern convenience you can possibly imagine, because it is made-to-order RIGHT NOW in perfect proportion and with the perfect nutritional balance for your particular child at that moment. Not to mention that it comes beautifully packaged in a temperature-controlled, sterile environment. (Let’s see Apple come up with a product that can do that!)

Now, it’s true that there are (rare) cases when mamas cannot breastfeed and, in those cases, if other human milk isn’t available, formula is a life-saver. BUT, 98% of why a mother isn’t successful breastfeeding isn’t because she can’t, but because she doesn’t have the right support structure in place. The community – and particularly the mother’s partner – needs to be offering encouragement and support every step of the way. When exhausted, distraught mothers are told by people she loves and trusts to just “give the baby a bottle” (instead of “you can do it – let’s see what we can do to help you”), it’s hard for that mother to say no.

I know, breastfeeding isn’t always a cake walk. It’s a physical and emotional commitment. But with the right support and determination, it is the most satisfying gift you can give to your child. I have been amazed how quickly my own babies have grown up and how quickly our lives moved beyond breastfeeding. It’s a small blip of time in the grand, scheme of things. But that blip can make a big difference in the health and happiness of your baby and yourself.

Courtney Baros is co-founder of Be By Baby!, a Chicago baby boutique offering natural baby products, attachment parenting classes, and nursing apparel.

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