Breastfeeding is an intensely personal decision — one you must make before your labor begins and you are presented with a hungry newborn. You might be surprised to find that there are very few cons, even in the face of stumbling blocks in your path to do what’s right for you and your baby.
Real moms reveal why they choose to breastfeed their babies.
Being raised in a society where formula feeding seems to be the norm, it can be hard to stray outside the mainstream. And while breastfeeding is becoming more common, recent statistics show that even when nursing is initiated, many mothers don’t maintain the nursing relationship due to a number of factors, such as going back to work or a lack of support.
If you are torn over your decision, freebies like a better bonding experience and countless health benefits might help sway you, as it did Meredith, mother of two: “I actually don’t like breastfeeding at all!” she said. “I do it for my kids. I do love knowing that I’m giving my baby the best nutrition possible and that I love giving them an immune system boost.”
Going against the flow
Miranda, mother of four children, had planned on using formula with her first baby “because that is what everyone I knew did,” she said. “When I was eight months pregnant and bored to tears with the pregnancy book I had read multiple times, I decided to go ahead and read the breastfeeding chapter. It was like a light went off above my head and I thought, ‘I can do that!’ I knew there was no reason for me to not try.” She is now nursing her fourth baby with no plans to stop.
Melissa breastfed her first baby, even with a lack of support. “I knew it would be the best possible start for my babies, both mentally and physically,” she said. “It was a better bonding experience for us and a healthier food source for him. It was hard with no support the first time around, but these are the reasons that kept me going.”
Never considered formula
Some moms always knew they were going to breastfeed. Kayla, mother to baby Annaliese, said, “Using formula never entered my mind as an option. I think breastfeeding is natural, healthier and definitely cost effective.”
Jenna, mother of two girls, agrees. “Formula costs an arm and a leg and we just can’t afford it in this economy,” she said. She also loves the bond breastfeeding creates. “I learned with [my first daughter] Gwen that giving birth does not mean you’ll automatically connect with your child. I think breastfeeding helps to further the closeness and trust between you both.”
In the face of adversity
Even when facing difficult situations, many moms persevere and breastfeed anyway, even if formula seems like an easier way to go. Hillary, mother of twin boys and a girl, breastfed all three. “It was time consuming,” she said about nursing her twins.
“I barely left the house for the first year after they were born and never without someone else with me. It was worth it, though. It helped me to stick to the intentions I had of making sure they never got shortchanged because they were born at the same time. I tried to never make a decision based on the fact that there were two of them instead of one.” Her twins nursed for two and a half years.
Melody continued to breastfeed her toddler while pregnant despite the difficulty of doing so. “Nursing through pregnancy was very difficult for me,” she said. “It was physically painful and emotionally draining. If Alice hadn’t had such a strong need to nurse I would not have done it.”
Mariana also nursed through a pregnancy and now nurses both her baby and her 4-year-old daughter. “The best thing about tandem nursing is that, as a mother of two, it’s one of the only times I can truly fill the needs of both my children at the same time,” she said. “No one has to be patient and wait for me to be done with the other child and neither of them has to compromise.”
While there are rare situations which make breastfeeding difficult or impossible, with proper support and strong desire, most mothers can successfully breastfeed. Sign up for the benefits and nurse your baby — she will thank you for it.