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This title would certainly raise many brows. Before I begin, I'd clarify that this post is not about being judgemental about whether you choose to breastfeed your child. It is only an attempt to understand why it's become such a big issue.
These days, every time I meet some family or friend, I'm asked whether I've started other foods yet or introduced the bottle. On being told that my son is exclusively breastfed, many are surprised while some are shocked. 'How do you manage? Don't you give a bottle at night either?'
To be honest, I'm equally surprised at such reactions. While I understand that many mothers aren't able to feed their baby due to less or no milk production or because they have to join back work, I didn't have any such reason not to do it. I work from home and am with my baby 24x7. Moreover, exclusive breastfeeding is the first and the most important thing I can do for my child. And if I can do it, then why not? As my baby grows up, I'll get back the long stretches of sleep but never will his first few months return.
Why is it that breastfeeding is considered so difficult now? It's not the baby's needs that have changed, but the life of a woman. We, now, have our jobs and careers, and a life beyond the walls of our home. And it does become difficult to cope with the baby's demands. Families, too, have become smaller and more often than not, there are no grandma's or others to help you with your household chores, which makes this even more tiring. Moreover, breastfeeding doesn't stop at 6 months, it is weaned off gradually and can go on till your baby is 2 years. Every baby is different and the weaning period also differs.
Breastfeeding your baby also puts many restrictions on you. For instance, I rarely go out now. And the first criteria for me to venture out for a long time is to check and ensure that the place I'm going to has space for me to feed my baby. If the latter is an issue or the commuting time is too long, I prefer not to go.
However, there are so many advantages to breastfeeding that can simply not be overlooked. Mother's milk is packed with all the essential nutrients and enzymes that are very important for your child. Moreover, all that immunity you've built in your lifetime is passed in to your child through breastfeeding. While formula milk may be an alternative, it can never be a substitute or a replacement. I know mothers who give their babies formula milk along with breastfeed just so that the baby gets habituated to the bottle. I personally feel that it's just not required. You have all the time to change habits, but those first 6 months are precious. Your baby needs mother's milk and that's all. Like my hubs says, "Breastmilk can never go wrong!"
Then there are others who feel that giving the bottle at night gives you longer gaps between feeds. The fact is that's not really true. Studies have shown that breastfeeding at night helps regulate the baby's body clock and they're able to sleep for a stretch, waking up only for feeds in between. Moreover, breastfeeding helps develop a sense of security that helps the baby sleep better. Of course, sometimes, my son just wants his mumma close to him and nothing else, but then I'm not complaining. The feeling you get when your child is so close to you is simply irreplaceable.
So yes, it is very demanding, but for nothing in the world would I exchange it. Because for me, this is my time with my son, and I'll never get these precious moments back when it's just him and me. One of the best things I can give to my son is the gift of good health and that begins with breastfeeding.
What do you feel about breastfeeding? Have you also countered questions about your choice to breastfeed or not? Do share.
Will follow up with a post on how underrated breastfeeding is.
Till then, take care and stay precious :)