I love breastfeeding. The 15 minute refuges that I get to have with Audrey numerous times a day are profound. Its a relationship that only she and I can have, and I’m so grateful for it. Looking down at my baby with milk dripping out of the corners of her mouth and smiling up at me melts my heart. These moments aren’t just feeding; they are bonding moments with my little girl that help her grow into a conscientious and caring person.
And I’m so excited that breastfeeding is on the rise. First off, it’s the single most important thing a mother can do to ensure a healthy start to her child’s life. Breast milk helps a baby’s intestinal tract to develop and flourish with healthy bacteria, which is vital to the human body’s immune function. It helps to “seal” the gut. Formula actually harms the body in this process. Formula companies like to point out that “breast is best”, as if breastfeeding is going above and beyond, but that formula is “good”. I dislike this mentality. Breast milk is normal and perfect for a baby’s body. Formula is actually harmful. Look at this ingredient list:
Corn syrup (sugar) is the first ingredient! Ack! Then soy protein isolate, which is a highly processed soy product that should always be avoided, as it interferes with hormonal balance. Then oil, which is 100% processed fat, then more sugar. Then more oils. Then a bunch of chemicals that cannot be pronounced. And so on. This is quite far from being the perfect food that breast milk is.
I understand that some women have trouble with breastfeeding, and some of you may be thinking, “wow, she is being really harsh toward women who have used formula”. I do not fault those individuals, as we live in a culture which doesn’t promote the breastfeeding lifestyle. That is where our biggest opportunity lies. Breastfeeding in public should be more acceptable than bottle feeding. Sounds radical but it’s true. Lactation consultants or doulas should be included with the birth process 100% of the time. Most women who stop breastfeeding stop because it was painful or too difficult, or because they are told their babies aren’t gaining enough weight. Let’s remember we live in an obese society; what is the right amount of weight? Is the baby happy and alert? To me that is more important than weight. And, breastfed babies gain weight differently than textbook formula-fed babies. What these women need is support, not formula! Support with a good latch, support from other mothers in knowing that it does get easier, support from their partners, support from our culture. This is where the disconnect is.
In my grassroots effort to “Change the World”, I can start on this one with the simple act of breastfeeding proudly in public. It may seem small, but the more people see it and become comfortable with it, the more mothers will embrace it and not feel embarrassed to bare their breasts for their baby in public. Then the cultural shift can happen.
Some resources that I’ve found to be useful: