The narrative surrounding breastfeeding usually involves the fact that it’s challenging, it’s tiring, it’s a sacrifice, and it’s what’s best for baby. In my experience, all of this is true. However, there happens to be some breastfeeding benefits for moms, too. If course, some of the physical perks are well documented and better explained by medical professionals, but I’m talking about the benefits for mom that aren't necessarily scientifically quantifiable. In fact, the real reason breastfeeding was worth it for me had nothing to do with biology or hormones or burnt calories, and everything to do with the regular time it gave me with my son.
Even when I wished I could have done better for my son on a particular day (because let's face it, some days you feel like you just can't win) breastfeeding was that something special that we had together and that the two of us shared. That reminder, and those moments, were crucial to me in growing as a mom and gaining my confidence and seeing the good when I had a not-so-good day.
Of course, every mom and baby are unique, so every mom and baby will have different experiences. Still, if anyone out there is nervous about, or struggling with breastfeeding, please know that it’s not all bad. You’re allowed to enjoy it and you’re allowed to appreciate some parts of it for what they do for you and just you. After all, these moms did:
"Breastfeeding makes me feel like a parenting superhero. I can solve almost any problem — hunger, crankiness, fear, discomfort — with my boobs. It's amazing how something so simple can make a baby so happy. The snuggles are pretty great, too."
"The main reasons breastfeeding was best for our family were 1) it was FREE (really, this was numero uno) and 2) it was incredibly convenient. I didn't have to make sure to have formula in stock or pack or wash bottles, food was just there at the ready. All that great bonding/nutrition/blah blah blah were great side benefits, but so not the main reason I went with breastfeeding over formula.
And, yes, weight loss, being able to eat 3,000 calories a day and still losing weight, donating 1000 ounces of breast milk to the local milk bank, and fixing a fussy baby anytime and anywhere!"
"To me, the health and nutrition benefits for me and my children were fabulous, but that alone probably wouldn't have kept me going for as long as I did if I'd had a miserable time of things. Honestly, breastfeeding was worth it because I loved it and had a great experience. I'm not saying I didn't have challenges at first or that there weren't inconveniences, but ultimately it was just so lovely and wonderful."
"Mine is totally selfish: the hormone surge from the oxytocin is magical to me. I have anxiety pretty badly but when I'm breastfeeding it just keeps me in a much better place. Probably why I nursed my daughter until she was almost 3-years-old. Now still going strong at 12 months with my son. I'm lucky that it came very easily to me."
"I had a great experience — good milk flow, baby who nursed avidly and easily, no mastitis — so there weren't many downsides. I loved the connection with my baby and how easily I could get him to settle down whenever he fussed. The boob made everything better, always. And while having to pump at work was a serious drag, I loved that I had the perfect food for him that cost nothing and never required mixing or hassle. I also think breastfeeding helped my body recover quickly from pregnancy. My boobs hurt, but my belly went down fast and I went back to my pre-pregnancy weight quickly and stayed there, at least until I weaned him, when I gained 10 pounds almost overnight!"
"I loved the convenience! No need to pack this and that or buy stuff, as long as I brought my boobs with me, we were good to go I held on as long as I could (seven months) just because it made my mom real happy and I do things just so she could brag to her frienemies (a very real truth in my life)."
"Free and it was one of the few parts of motherhood that I felt I controlled — I felt like I had it down to a science. I do think I had a very supportive work environment and home— it made it much easier to continue for as long as I did and not feel like I was giving anything up."
"Not needing to make a bottle in the middle of the night or constantly wash bottles. I love sleep and loathe doing dishes!"
"I didn't breastfeed for very long time spans, but always in the first few months. And I'm another vote for cheap and convenient, especially in the very beginning when you're physically and mentally and utterly exhausted and still trying to recover from giving birth. Their tummies are so teeny tiny, I just could not find the energy to get up eight times a night to make a bottle of formula (I paid for) that I may just throw away anyhow."
"It was all about the money here! Every time I thought I might quit, I remembered how much we spent on formula with my first. OUCH!"
"Because it is free! And no bottles or nipples to clean. No mixing. No running out on the go. So easy (after the first few months)."
"Weight loss! All the other stuff was good, too, but that's what kept me going."