We could talk about the health benefits for mom and baby which most people point to, but there are other reasons to consider why breastfeeding is important.
Breastfeeding is a complicated topic in mom culture today. While we are in a sort of renaissance when it comes to breastfeeding with breastfeeding rates on the rise, formula feeding is still the norm, and extended breastfeeding is a rarity.
The gains we have made with breastfeeding rates is surely due to pushes from moms, organizations, and places like hospitals to encourage moms to breastfeed. Plus, moms have more access to information and support than they have in a long time.
However, we are also in a time when everyone wants to be sensitive to respecting each mom’s choice to feed their baby as they see fit and to refrain from shaming moms for making a choice that is not the same as our own. Inevitably most posts about breastfeeding end up with at least one mom commenting about how not all moms can breastfeed and formula feeding is ok.
We are muddling our way through promoting a dying art that also happens to be widely viewed as the healthiest choice without making the majority of moms feel inferior or less-than. This is not an easy task. How do you tout the benefits of breastfeeding without making moms who use formula feel like they are wrong? It’s complex and takes a gentle hand, which most of us don’t have quite frankly.
I have been guilty of being insensitive to formula feeding moms’ feelings. It wasn’t on purpose. I feel like I was in the right at the time, and while I might have technically had the correct information, the way I shared it wasn’t always kind.
But it is still essential to continue to talk about breastfeeding and advocating for all moms who choose to breastfeed to be fully supported. Here is why breastfeeding is important and needs to continue to be encouraged for moms who want to.
Breastfeeding is Cheaper
While this number can vary widely, and of course there are intangibles like the time it takes to breastfeed/pump, but when just doing straight math using averages, you can figure out how much cheaper breastfeeding is.
According to this article, the average yearly cost of formula feeding is $1,733.
Perhaps for some moms that number isn’t a huge one, but what if you have a baby that requires a more expensive variety of formula? Or multiples?
Nearly $2,000 a year is a huge number for a lot of parents right now, and while there might be *some* costs associated with breastfeeding and/or pumping, it is much lower than the cost of formula.
Equality for Moms Depends on It
In many ways, it was actually formula which helped moms find more equality in this world, and more specifically in the workplace.
With the ability to have their children more easily fed by someone else, moms were able to leave their children for longer periods of time. Of course, wetnursing was an option for some, but not all, and many moms might not feel comfortable with this option.
We are in a new era now though. As long as there are moms who desire to breastfeed, we must ensure they are able to do so, and that their work does not interfere with their ability to provide nutrition for their children.
Obviously, the more women who feel empowered to demand their rights on the job are respected when it comes to breastfeeding, the more likely we are to protect those rights and win more. And when women’s right to breastfeed/pump are respected on the job, it is much easier for moms to be able to continue to breastfeeding after returning to work.
This is an issue for all women in the workplace whether they breastfeed, use formula, or are even moms at all.
In order for women to succeed in the workplace for many years now, they’ve had to assimilate into a male-driven culture. But this environment is one in which women are only respected and praised for conforming to male expectations.
This is why breastfeeding is important for us to have true equality. We should be respected and valued for all that we bring to the table, including experiences and qualities that are unique to womanhood and motherhood.
It is Better for the Environment
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, without pumping or using bottles, then you are producing exactly zero waste.
By now you’ve probably seen the floating garbage islands floating around our oceans? Pretty gross, right? Reducing our use of plastic and consuming more, in general, is essential for cutting down on the waste.
Pumping can produce waste as well, but there are more eco-friendly options for milk storage and even in bottle choices out there. Milk can be stored and even frozen in mason jars, and you can even get nipples that attach directly to the jar. (These would also be a great option for formula mamas too!)
The health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented for both baby and mama, but there are many reasons why breastfeeding is important.
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