breastfeeding; it’s like smoking, only good for you

the other day at the park another mom asked me if i was still breastfeeding my 13 month old. when i told her i was, she said “wow, you’re a superhero!” i’m not one to argue with somebody calling me a superhero (we are all superheros), but her comment shocked me because i really don’t think of breastfeeding as heroic. sure, there are challenges to face from time to time, but in my culture bubble there’s a heck of a lot of support to meet breastfeeding challenges (my mother-in-law, who lives next door, was a la leche league leader for something like 20 years. and my mom was also a LLL leader and breastfed me until i was almost 5. so you see why breastfeeding a 13-month-old doesn’t seem unusual to me). it got me thinking back to that article, “the case against breastfeeding” and the stance that breastfeeding is this huge burden and sacrifice. i don’t want to discount other mom’s struggles, i know they are real. but for me, breastfeeding is the opposite of a sacrifice. i don’t breastfeed because i’m willing to sacrifice myself for my baby’s health, i breastfeed because i’m lazy, indulgent, vain, and cheap.

i’m lazy because i don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to soothe a baby between sleep cycles, i just want to roll over, let my baby latch on and go back to sleep.  when i’m having dinner with friends, i don’t want to have to leave to put my baby to bed, i’d much rather just nurse him and let him fall asleep in my lap. at bed time i don’t want to bounce and sing and rock my baby to sleep, i’d rather just lay there reading a book or playing with my ipod while he nurses himself to sleep. when we go out somewhere, i don’t want to have to think about balanced, nutritional snacks to bring along, i just want to go and nurse if my baby gets hungry.

i’m indulgent. i like to take lots of breaks during the day. i like the feeling of serotonin and oxytocin released into my blood stream. when i’m doing a million things at once and getting frazzled, breastfeeding gives me a break, a pause, to just sit (or lie down!) and breathe and be still.  i’ve never been a smoker, but i used to be jealous of the smokers i worked with. when things got hectic and stressful, they’d go out for their break and i’d watch through the window as they took a slow inhale, their shoulders dropped, and they came back in with a fresh, calmer perspective. breastfeeding gives me the relaxed shoulders and fresh perspective, and instead of bad breath and higher cancer risk, i get to feel connected to my baby and a decreased risk of cancer.

i’m vain because i want to be slim and trim while eating tons of everything delicious and full of calories. i’d rather burn calories by making milk than exercising or dieting.

and i’m cheap. i like growing my own food and making things from scratch. breast milk is the only thing i can think of where the very best quality is also the cheapest option.

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