By Diana Vacchiano, Marketing Coordinator
Now that I’m back at work after three full months of maternity leave, I’ve started to create a whole new routine for myself. I used to take my breaks at my own leisure and could do as I pleased with them: take a walk outside, call my mother in Pennsylvania, mosey into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a break from the computer. But now that I am committed to breastfeeding, I have to pump three times a day at the same time everyday on top of nursing my child in the morning and evening. There just isn’t enough time in the day. I can’t help but wonder, Why am I going through the hassle?
I have to admit that when I got pregnant, I didn’t know the first thing about babies or parenthood, and didn’t rush to educate myself. I thought that I’d let instinct be my guide. I had a fried who recently had a baby tell me “If you are going to take any class, take a breastfeeding one.??? The hospital that I chose had classes, but they were sold out and I didn’t want to pay for a private consultation. I thought that I would just have to learn in the hospital. I now know why my friend suggested it. At first I didn’t realize the commitment and all the myriad issues that could arise.
After having my little sweet pea Fiona, I scoured Google to research the best possible options on nursing. There is a ton of information available to help new mothers understand how to breastfeed, assist with any issues, and fully explain all of the health benefits. But weighed with every fact, there is also the added pressure that breastfeeding is supposedly the only way.
Some women choose not to breastfeed because they’re frightened by it, while others feel that it shouldn’t be the mother’s sole responsibility to feed/nurse the baby. Others may not produce enough milk and face difficulty in having the baby latch. I knew for a long time that I wanted to at least try breastfeeding, and if it didn’t work, it didn’t work. Fortunately and unfortunately, Fiona and I continue to breastfeed. I have to admit it’s quite a physical commitment and is worlds harder than giving birth. You may laugh, but labor and delivery was roughly 24 hours, while nursing is an every day task.
The biggest reason why I felt I should at least try breastfeeding is because it’s natural. Human bodies produce milk for a reason. It is widely recognized that breast milk greatly benefits infants’ health, immunity, and development. Children who breastfeed are often more resistant to disease and infections, whereas formula-fed infants are more susceptible. Breastfeeding also helps infants fight a number of diseases including juvenile diabetes, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), heart disease, and cancer. But there are also a number of benefits for the mother: decreased chance of developing osteoporosis later in life, the ability to shed extra weight gained during pregnancy, and a lower risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Another benefit – albeit a more obvious one – is that breastfeeding is cheap, whereas formula is expensive. After a few weeks of nursing, I quickly understood why some women choose formula. Nursing, despite its many benefits, can be uncomfortable. It’s a commitment. Formula also digests slower, so you have more time in between feedings. And more time for sleep!
After a few weeks struggling with Fiona, I started looking more into the benefits of breastfeeding. A number of articles claim that it provides an opportunity for the mother and child to bond. The biggest factor, to me, are the health benefits mentioned above. The antibodies in breast milk help to keep the baby healthy, optimizing metabolic profiles, reducing the risk of various cancers, and fighting disease. As I continue to learn, I’ll ultimately keep the baby’s needs first, as I now understand better than ever that the efforts we make in the early stages of motherhood aren’t simply geared toward the present, but toward the longterm health of your child. In the bigger picture, this will only benefit Fiona, and help her to live a happier, healthier life.