I've been planning on doing a post about this for some time and since August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week, I figured now was the time. Luke is over 10 months old now and I'm still nursing him, which is the longest I've nursed any of my babies. I think I'm getting a bit nostalgic about it since this is my last baby and I've really grown to appreciate it over the years for several reasons.
1. The Calorie Burn: some people might criticize me for listing this first, but they can just go on their own blog and write their own list if they don't like it. I can tell you that all those times I'm sitting in that horrible 100 degree closet at work that's full of spiders and has a pipe leaking on my head pumping milk, it's the thought of the calorie burn that keeps me going. I consider it my daily "workout" and that's how I'm able to get through it 2-3 times a day. They say nursing burns around 500 calories per day and I believe it - I was able to lose a lot of weight and am now 25 lbs below what I was when I got married. (Yeah, I was a porker!) I'd still like to lose another 5-10 lbs and would like to do it by Luke's 1st birthday, as that's when I plan on saying goodbye to the spiders and throwing the pump in the garbage! I can't stand that thing!
2. It's FREE! It's not just that breastmilk is free, it's that formula is SO EXPENSIVE! Seriously! How can they get away with charging $20+ for a can of powder??? Anyway, our budget would never allow such extravagance so I'm glad my body allowed for the free alternative.
3. The Bonding: I really didn't feel much of a bond when nursing Owen and Sam (sorry, guys!) but I think that's because with only two kids, there was a lot more opportunity for me to bond with them at other times. With #3 and #4, there is so much going on and I'm so incredibly busy, it's only nursing that really stops me in my tracks and FORCES me to spend quiet time alone with my babies. I need that, otherwise I would just keep running and running the whole time I'm home and ask Chris or maybe even one of the older boys to give the baby a bottle. Actually, I'm so busy I might even resort to just handing Luke his own bottle at this age! Anyway, I d0 appreciate that I need to lock the door to the nursery and have those few precious moments every day with Luke, who I'm sure also enjoys the quiet time with his mama. This is the reason I plan on continuing to nurse in the morning and before bed for as long as I can, maybe until he's two. We'll see how it goes.
4. The Baby's Health: please don't make me feel like a bad mom for listing this last. It's not like it's a distant 4th place on my list because it IS really important. But I think the reason I list this last is because I dont' really think about it very much. Yes, they say breastfeeding is BY FAR the best way to feed your baby but I guess I don't really notice it because (thankfully) I've never had anything to compare it to (i.e. a formula fed baby). I did stop nursing Owen when he was around 7 months old and he got his first ear infection the following WEEK! At the time, I felt really guilty but didn't realize that I could have gone back to nursing even after a week off, otherwise I would have!
Again, I'm so glad I was able to nurse all my babies. It's been worth all the discomfort, 45 minute feedings at the beginning, having mastitis once (HORRIBLE!), inconvenience of pumping at work, spiders and leaky pipes and even sticking with it through teething (OUCH!). I'd recommend it to any new mom for sure!
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!