It's Easy Being a Green Mama


The Ultimate Example of Green Parenting:Breastfeeding
April 1, 2012, 3:30 am
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The Ultimate Example of Green Parenting:Breastfeeding.



The Ultimate Example of Green Parenting:Breastfeeding
April 1, 2012, 3:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So far,breastfeeding my daughter has been the most worthwhile decision I’ve made yet as a green mama.  It’s true: breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and despite what many people think, it’s not something that always comes naturally to every woman.     Believe me, the benefits far and away exceed the drawbacks.

Breastfeeding your baby is as green as it gets, both for the planet, and for your wallet.   Talk about eating local!   For nine months, you’ve nourished your baby, and it’s just continuing for a while longer.  You still get to make certain that no harmful chemicals are entering your child’s body.   It’s a win-win: your child will have the perfect food, created specifically for her needs; and you get benefits as well.   Producing milk consumes 500 extra calories per day, and helps your hormones adjust after giving birth.  Every time you nurse your child, your body releases oxytocin, which helps strengthen the maternal bond.  Other benefits for mothers include reduced risk of breast cancer, and a delay in the return of fertility (but don’t use that as  contraception, it’s not 100%).

Benefits to the baby are too numerous to count.  Breastfed babies receive their mamas’ antibodies and are less likely to develop infections.  Long term, they are at lower risk of becoming obese or developing diabetes.  Breastfed babies are less likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome, and it may even increase their IQ.  Breastmilk changes as infants grow, but there’s no need to have to change recipes.   In the beginning, mamas produce colostrum, also known as LIQUID GOLD.  This stuff is rich in protein and nutrients for a  newborn baby.   As baby matures, your milk changes naturally.  It even changes throughout the feedings, so that babies know when they’re full whereas formula is the same every time.  And when mama gets sick, she just keeps nursing, and her baby receives all the antibodies she produces.

Formula is derived from cow’s milk, and made to mimic breastmilk as closely as possible.  Many babies are sensitive to the ingredients in formula, such as soy and lactose.   None of that with breastmilk; it is much easier to digest, and so much gentler on baby’s tummy.    That’s why breastfed babies generally have fewer bowel movements than formula fed babies; there’s not much wasted in breastmilk.   Ease of digestion also means that breastfed  babies usually suffer less from colic and acid reflux.

Best of all for frugal mamas, breastfeeding is free.   I know, if you are going back to work, you’ll have to pump, and pumps cost money.   Even with the investment in a decent pump, you will come out ahead.  I was lucky enough to be given a very nice pump by my sister.   Replacing the tubing was easy and inexpensive, and sterilizing all the pieces is a snap.  Good pumps are getting more affordable, read reviews online.  You can try them out by renting them through hospitals and medical suppliers.  Most of the other costs involved in breastfeeding are minimal or optional, such as nursing bras.  An interesting calculator for formula vs breastfeeding is found here:  http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/bfcostbenefits/

Dads and other caretakers don’t get left out in a breastfed baby.  There’s so many ways they can bond with baby, too.  Diapers always need changing, they can give baby a bath and read her a story.  Honestly, when there’s lots of family and friends around who want to hold your sweet little one, breastfeeding can be a good excuse for one-on-one time with your child.

A lot of experienced mamas warned me before I gave birth that breastfeeding is a challenge.  I went to a breastfeeding class, and before she was born, found a support group.  I am so glad I did, and suggest both to everyone.  I’ve had a relatively easy time nursing my baby, but even I was tempted to give up in the beginning.  Because she was such a good eater early on, my milk came in so fast that I wasn’ t prepared.   I was engorged to the point that she couldn’t latch on.  That was the first setback.   After we got over that hurdle, she would feed for a few minutes and fall asleep, only to wake up starving about thirty minutes later.

She would want to nurse so frequently I felt like I would never sleep again, every two hours.  That really means that out of every two hours, I was not feeding her for about forty-five minutes.  She would “cluster feed” for hours before bedtime, althought it usually meant that she slept longer at night.  And of course, there were my furtive attempts at running errands with my infant daughter, only to run to the car after a breakdown twenty minutes into the grocery list.  There was my forceful letdown that caused her to spit up almost everything she swallowed, which was probably the most frustrating for me.  Sometimes I felt like I was just being used for food.

I thought, how am I ever going to get anything done?  How am I ever going to get out of the house again?  How am I ever going to get rest again?

But then, it got easier.  I adapted, and learned some tricks.  My daughter and I got into a routine, and she was able to go longer between feedings.  She started sleeping longer at night (partly due to cluster feeding, I think).  I learned to be more comfortable feeding her on the go.  I also got lots of help from a lactation consultant and my support group whenever I felt down.

By the time my daughter was six months old, I was devastated to have to go on a breastfeeding “pause”.  I developed a staph infection and was prescribed two very strong antibiotics.   I went home and breastfed my daughter one last time before taking the drugs, feeling like my heart was breaking.    I thought I was losing the bond I had developed with my daughter.  We had been two peas in a pod since the day she was born, and now our connection was being severed.

After two weeks of pumping every couple of hours to keep up my supply, and constant bottle feedings, we both breathed a sigh of relief when I was given the clear to start breastfeeding again.  My daughter returned to it like a duck to water.   Whereas before, I couldn’t imagine making it as long as six months, now, it had became hard to imagine weaning her.

Breastfeeding was a challenge, but I am so glad I did it.  It has helped my daughter be a healthy child in so many ways.  It certainly got me back into fighting shape quickly.  Our budget has certainly enjoyed it.  And because I breastfed, there’s been virtually no waste generated.  I cannot imagine it any other way now.   I cannot say enough good things about my experience with breastfeeding.   In a future post, I’ll tell you about why breastfeeding and cloth diapers are great together.