I'm starting with this question, not to try to strong arm anyone, but to provide information and encouragement. I don't know about other moms, but when I was going through some rough times early on, I would re-read the benefits of breastfeeding and I would think, “I can do this for my son, at least for a little longer.”
This link has the most comprehensive list of the benefits of breastfeeding that I have found:
As I said in my introduction, I'm not going to reinvent the wheel when there are already perfectly good articles in existence. The link I gave you above gives 101 reasons to breastfeed (a few of them are a little repetitive, but bear with them). They provide citations and references for all of their information.
I do want to spend a moment to talk to you about statistical averages. I sometimes hear people say that formula has to be as good as breast milk because their neighbor's breastfed baby was sicker than their formula fed baby. It would be a mistake to judge the effectiveness of breastfeeding in any of the categories listed on the basis of a person to person comparison or even a small group comparison. The statistics gathered for this list come from studies involving hundreds of thousands of women and babies across the nation and in some cases, the world. They do not mean that your breastfed baby will be perfect or always healthy – they mean that your odds are better.
I also wanted to spend a moment talking about these benefits in regards to two special cases: supplementing and pumping.
First, please be advised that even if you cannot fully breastfeed, ANY amount of breast milk is good. I cannot emphasize this enough. The more the better, but ANY amount is good. You can nurse once a day and be getting some benefits. Many of these benefits work on a kind of sliding scale. Here's a reference....one I will definitely be using again.
Second, I want to emphasize that most of the benefits of the milk for the baby come from the milk itself. I will talk about pumping at work and about exclusive pumping later on, but rest assured that if you end up in that situation, that you are still providing a great benefit for your baby. A lot of the convenience disappears and this is a hard road to travel, but it's healthy and good for your baby. (I hope someone out there will be able to help me with this option when the topic comes up.)
There are times when the world is not perfect and when factors out of your control may not allow breastfeeding to be the right option for you. Certainly, there can even be health concerns on the part of the mother that would make it a worse option – such as if you need to take medicine that is unsafe for the baby. I leave it to each of you to decide what is right for you and for your family. For those of you who are still undecided, stick with me. I have many topics planned and will do my best to address as many concerns as possible. If I miss your concern, please let me know!
I expect to have the next installment, "Getting Started," up early next week.
And now, the thread is open for questions and comments!
I would like to give a sweet mama from babyfit a special thank you for giving me permission to use her info. Thank you Christine Amsden!! Also, I want to invite you all to look at her new website! www.christineamsden.com
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