Wednesday, August 04, 2010

World Breastfeeding Week: Do It for Selfish Reasons!

It's World Breastfeeding Week, did you know? One of my Facebook friends shared this WBW promotional video this morning (I can't get it to embed properly in this post, so you'll have to click over because I don't wanna mess with it).

It's a short little video featuring pretty celebrities who have nursed their babies. It starts off with a little booby humor (ta-tas and jugs!) and then:

"Did you know that by breastfeeding, your knockers could save the US $13 billion per year in health care costs?"

THAT was the main reason we are offered about why women should breastfeed. The other two minor reasons: because these pretty women did it, and because "It's what your bazongas are for!"--which I actually chuckled over.

So I'm going to tell you why I decided to breastfeed: Because I'm selfish.

When I got pregnant with Ryan, Brendan was less than six months into the world of Type 1 diabetes. Researchy person that I am, I learned quickly enough that babies who were breastfed at least nine months had a lower risk of developing that auto-immune disease. Any auto-immune disease.

And right there and then I decided to do it. Of course I realized that human milk is the healthiest thing for human babies to eat, and that our species conveniently developed this super-food right along with the ability walk upright and remember 10-digit phone numbers. But really what I was thinking to myself was "If I can give this baby a good shot at not getting this awful illness, I'm going to do it." And the bonus parts were that the food was healthiest for him anyway, easy to prepare, and with me all the time.

So I set out to make it nine months (he nursed about 15 months), and in those early weeks when breastfeeding was difficult at times (especially in the hospital when I couldn't even nurse him until the day after he was born), I repeated my mantra: "Nine months. Lower risk. Nine months. Lower risk."

I breastfed Ryan because I selfishly wanted to lower his risk of getting a terrible disease. And I wanted him to be as healthy as he could possibly be. I wanted those things because he is a selfish value to me.

I also learned during that pregnancy that breastfeeding would help ME. Wow, this thing keeps getting better and better! Not only would my selfish value be healthier, I would be healthier, too! It helps with postpartum healing. It's soothing (due to the release of hormones while nursing). It helps you get back to pre-pregnancy weight more quickly. It lowers the risk of certain types of cancer, namely breast cancer.

I went on to have two more children whom I selfishly nursed for all of the above reasons and more. More reasons? Yes, more! Breastfeeding soothes baby as well as mom. It's snuggly, and full of touches, and studies show that human babies need human contact. Breastfeeding can help you establish a healthy attachment with your baby.

Morgan nursed until she was just past three years old (years, I know!), and Sean is still going strong at 25 months.

So I say HOORAY! for World Breastfeeding Week, but BOO! on your promotional video. I don't give a holy you-know-what that nursing my children will save my country health care costs. Not only that, I don't want any other woman to nurse her kids so that MY health care costs will be lower.

And if we weren't in this unholy mess of a situation where people (in the government and otherwise) need to be worried about how the behavior of other people will affect their wallets? What then? Would no good reason then exist to breastfeed if we (in my wildest dreams) actually ever had a free market in health care?

Hell no! There will still be plenty of excellent selfish reasons to nurse your baby!!! The cost of government care has NOTHING to do with it, whether in my theoretical utopia or in this horrible situation.

So I urge you to nurse because it's good for you and good for your baby. Do it, not for your country, but for yourself.


Heather said...

"It's what your bazongas are for!"

I love that :) Yay for breastfeeding!! I'l have a WBW post going up tomoorrow over at This Adventure Life - if you don't mind, I'm going to include some mama-blogs who are also participating.

rachel... said...

I've posted about WBW, too!

I saw that video today on fb, too. Cute, but not real impressed. I like all the reasons you listed a lot better. I made the choice to breastfeed my children for THEIR benefit, but was totally and awesomely surprised by how completely, selfishly wonderful it was for me, too!

Mona said...

I think the message that breastfeeding is good for the economy, in addition to being perverse and stemming from all the wrong premises, tends to turn people off to breastfeeding. In my experience, some of the new moms who are eligible for WIC seem to choose formula out of a sense that they want their baby to get everything they can get. If they breastfeed, their baby misses out on all that free formula. I think they feel that doctors are encouraging them to breastfeed to save the economy or some such nonsense (which some doctors may be doing), and they think they are being selfish in choosing formula. Of course, this is wrong on several levels. I wish more people realized how selfish breastfeeding really is.