More first time mothers in the U.S. are making the decision to breastfeed their infants. This new trend may help decrease the number of infantile medical issues, as breastfeeding is undoubtedly accompanied by a host of health benefits. But with National Breastfeeding Month upon us, we have to ask: Is breast really best?
Why should I breastfeed?
The increase in breastfeeding moms is good news for babies – it means they’re less likely to experience gastrointestinal or ear infections, be at risk for obesity later in life and develop diabetes. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for first time mothers.
Many believe that breastfeeding creates a stronger bond between a mother and her child, as well as many health benefits for both parties involved. For the newborn, breast milk is usually easier to digest than formula.
But breastfeeding doesn’t solely benefit the new little one – it’s good for mom, too. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and helps moms bond with their offspring. Many celebrities actually attribute their rapid weight loss post-baby to breastfeeding: The practice helps your uterus return to its normal size and also burns calories. And, believe it or not, breastfeeding also lowers your risk of osteoporosis.
However, some moms are unable to breastfeed for one reason or another, and that’s okay too!
What if I don’t breastfeed?
If you’re getting ready for baby, you may be worrying about whether you’re able to breastfeed. While breastfeeding has many benefits, not doing so doesn’t make you any less of a loving mom. Sometimes, newborns just don’t want to latch, making breastfeeding impossible. And if you’ve adopted, there’s no shame in not breastfeeding. Tina Fey herself wrote a tongue-in-cheek chapter on the wonders of motherhood in her autobiography, and talked about half-heartedly trying to breastfeed her daughter Alice, and the judgment she sometimes received on the playground. She recalled relishing having a friend with an adopted child with her to scold any high-and-mighty moms.
The Huffington Post quoted one of its own writers, Kim Simon, in expressing her trials and tribulations, first as a mom who couldn’t produce breast milk and was shamed by other parents, then as a breastfeeding-only mom who was judged when doing so in public.
Mommy bloggers, including Simon, have begun a campaign for this month titled I Support You. Their mission statement is as follows, “We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding.”
Formula feeding has its own benefits. For example, moms won’t experience the same discomfort that breastfeeding can cause, and they won’t have to watch what they eat as much. The important thing is to offer as much support as you can to your mommy peers. So how do you support your fellow moms?