Friday, July 23, 2010

Why breastfeeding is important

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about the importance of breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st!

sitting up and nursing

I sometimes have lofty goals for why I breastfeed.

In a country where only 32 percent of babies are breastfed exclusively during the first three months, I feel like my example might inspire other parents-to-be to consider breastfeeding their child. I hope I shine as a resource for other new parents in my social circle, who will know they can ask me questions or swap breastfeeding stories or ask for loans of a Boppy or sling, and I look forward to mentoring as many as I can.

In a country where the right to breastfeed in public has to be legislated and continually enforced against those who think it is or should be illegal, I nurse proudly in public to show others that it is all right to do so. I hope other potential breastfeeders might see and be intrigued by the idea; I hope other breastfeeders who feel ashamed or nervous to breastfeed in public might be encouraged by camaraderie to give it a try; I hope the skeptics will be silenced by my confidence; and I hope other children will grow up seeing breastfeeding as just a natural and normal way to feed a baby.

In a country where only 21 percent of toddlers are still breastfed at 12 months and where breastfeeding older infants and toddlers is often kept silent or openly scorned, I breastfeed my toddler to normalize long-term breastfeeding. I demonstrate the principle that the natural age of weaning for humans can be anywhere from 2.5 to 7 years and that it is entirely normal, biologically speaking, for my 3-year-old to nurse.

But you know? My son doesn't care about any of that.

Breastfeeding is important to him because it fills his tummy when he's hungry.

It gives him a drink when he's thirsty.

It tastes sweet and warm and delicious and is a treat.

It soothes him when he's scared or anxious or in pain.

It helps him relax and fall asleep at night.

It's a way of connecting with his mama physically and meeting the need for skin-to-skin contact that doesn't disappear just because he's not a newborn anymore.

It boosts his immunity when he's sick — not that he knows this intellectually, but he nurses constantly when he's ill, so his body certainly knows what it needs.

It makes him happy. It makes him smile. It makes him feel loved.

And when I get over my big head and my grand ideas, that's why breastfeeding is most important to me, too.

I still absolutely believe in all the other reasons, but they don't mean a thing without Mikko's eager requests, his smiles with his mouth full as he gazes up into my face, and the sweet pats he now gives me, followed with a hug and a whispered "Thank you for the nummies, Mama."

That's why breastfeeding is most important to me — because it's important to him.

Why is breastfeeding important to you?

Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


Mallory said...

This post makes my heart ache! I miss nursing my little guy so much! And it makes me melt when he pats and kisses and smells my breasts, even now after being weaned for several months. It was important to him! And that is why it was important to me, too. I couldn't agree any more with this post!

Rachael said...

Beautiful photo!

ONE of the reasons that I'm still breastfeeding my 22-mo son (though certainly not the only one) is for my own health. My mother died of breast cancer, and one of the last bits of advice she gave me was to breastfeed my children (My two sisters and I were formula fed). Goodness knows if breastfeeding would have made a difference for her, but it has been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer, including the aggressive, hormone-negative kind that she had. For a long time I thought of this reason for breastfeeding as a selfish one. But it isn't. I don't want my little Critter to be left motherless as young as I was.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this. And the photo is gorgeous.

I breastfeed my son, now 18 months, for all those reasons. And for his health - we have family history of depression, diabetes, and allergy/asthma conditions, plus SIDS. Knowing that he has raised risk for all of those, how could I add to that by not breastfeeding him?

And it's sometimes easier than finding healthy food some places. (Mr. Airport, I am looking at you.) And it's certainly faster.

And in the end, the best reason of all is because he loves it. It's because of that little smile as he plays games with our fingers while he nurses. It's because I like cuddling him, cradling him, knowing I am comforting and feeding him.

Shana said...

"Thank you for the nummies, Mama."
OMG I'm in the office and I just had a cute attack. Thank goodness my office mate is out today.

This is why I am so ambivalent about weaning my 26 month old. I am so ready to be done nursing, but he loves it so much I just can't bear to deny him!

Whitney =0) said...

I too, love the quote you shared from your son. That is the sweetest thing EVER!

Unknown said...

I love this post and the beautiful picture. Ill never stop hating myself a little bit for getting pregnant so soon and the ensuing premature weaning. Breastfeeding is great.

Timbra Wiist said...

I haven't been great about posting comments, but I am really enjoying reading all of your posts. . . my oldest is 4 and we're kind of in the "midst" of weaning at the moment. . . I love all of these photos of your little guy nursing. . . and ironically, I was just in seattle two weeks ago :) My mom lives there! So. . . I'll probably be there in the fall again. . .

Megan said...

I love your post, It's very informative and interesting to read.Thank you for sharing :)

Pamela said...

You have a very very nice post! You are right, there is nothing to be hide off. Its okay when you allow your baby feed in public, that's normal! I won't let my baby sacrifice when the time he wants to drink from my boobs. Anytime he can, I am a proud mother!

Birth Routes said...

I loved this. Everything aside, it is all about your childrens love and joy.

So heart warming.

Desiree said...

Oh yes! For all of these reasons :) Connecting, soothing, loving -- in addition to nutrition and making sure I don't have to worry when my 18-month-old is being a picky eater ^_^

Linda (Brianna, almost 4 & Shannon, almost 2 and BOTH still bf'ing said...

THANK you for your beautiful blog. My, dh, who will be 4 on August 8, is still bf'ing, 'on demand'. That can be once a week, day, hour, depending on her. I am so happy after reading what you wrote!

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