OK. Profit is an exaggeration, and being an accountant, I must add that you really can’t breastfeed “for profit” (unless I suppose you got paid for selling your breast milk, which kind of creeps me out to even consider). And in order for there to be profit, there must be revenue (income). As such, I will say that realistically, you can’t profit from breastfeeding.
However, you CAN save a LOT of money breastfeeding. Especially if you do it over a long period of time, and if, like me, you don’t even buy or own a pump. That’s right. I don’t have a pump (and really good pumps will run you around $300 these days). Which also means I don’t have to buy bottles, storage bags, sterilizer, etc. Since I AM, however, breastfeeding, I also don’t have to buy formula.
I’m telling you, people, breastfeeding is a HUGE money saver! Even if you discount the savings with the spending. In my case, my breastfeeding costs were nursing pads, a few nursing tops and PJ’s I bought before I realized I could just throw a tank top underneath any normal top and voila – nursing top. That’s pretty much it.
Now if you want to be able to go out and have someone else give a bottle of expressed milk, then yes, you probably should invest in a pump. But, if like me, you waited too long to introduce a bottle, this probably won’t help anyway as my daughter would not take one. Why buy the bottle when you can drink from the cow for free? Isn’t that the saying? No? Well in my daughter’s mind it should be. 🙂
Now I know that the government wants more women to breastfeed (both in Canada and the US), and for those who do to breastfeed for longer. My hubby loves to tell me that I’m only doing this to save the government billions in health care dollars (the accountant in me who understands WHY we pay taxes, even though I don’t necessarily LIKE them). The funny part, for me though, is that the way I look at it is this: If I DO save the government health care costs, that is terrific because it means that my baby isn’t sick or hospitalized, and that maybe, just maybe, my breastmilk had something to do with that. That is worth celebrating. Plus it means that our tax dollars can go to help out someone else’s sick child perhaps. It may be a stretch to think that way, but definitely something interesting to consider, non?
So now on to the “fun” part of this post. How can breastfeeding be fun? Well, it can be funny at the very least. Especially if you continue to breastfeed past that infant stage. When babies get older, breastfeeding becomes a different task than when they are infants. An infant purely nurses for food and comfort and there isn’t much more interaction than that. It can be pretty magical when they are content and finish nursing and pop off and fall asleep in that “drunken sailor” fashion. So adorable.
But when they get older, it gets funnier at times. Now that my daughter is starting to understand more at 9 months of age, she knows where her milk source hides and will sometimes come up and pull at my shirt. If she gets her way (as we are still feeding “on demand” right now), she might sit in my lap and use her hands to hold me in place so that she can get down to the serious business of feeding. It is really quite amusing to see her rather earnest expression. And in the mornings, she might climb on top of me, lay her head down on my chest, and then have a little morning snack from her favorite “breastaurant” and I get a nice relaxing cuddle from her to boot.
Now breastfeeding isn’t ALWAYS fun. In fact sometimes it is downright painful and exhausting. Try feeding a distracted baby with teeth who is pulling away to look around while still clenched onto you. Those first 2 weeks after birth are also the most painful experience as most mothers who breastfed can attest. I remember quite clearly still how she would latch on and I would gasp in a breath and hold it for a minute or two until the pain subsided before I could relax while she fed. Lanolin cream became my best friend. It took 5 days for my milk to come in and my daughter lost a full pound from her birth weight and was a little jaundiced because of it. I was so nervous and worried about her getting enough and I understood fully at that moment why some mothers desperately reach for that formula thinking it would be easier and baby would not go hungry. Then the milk came. Holy torpedoes batman! So then I had to go and use hot compresses and massage my breasts before each feed. I had been told to feed often to bring up her weight so this was a non-stop production and I was completely exhausted from lack of sleep and worry.
Thankfully that experience didn’t last long, and once my milk settled down a bit and the extreme sensitivity lessened, it became more of a joy to feed her and see how satisfied it made her. That is why I love to talk to mothers before they give birth about whether they want to breastfeed or not. If they do, I like to warn them about that beginning piece. Because I was warned and it made all the difference to know what to expect. I had a time frame in mind of those 2 weeks that were my hurdle to make it through. I knew that once I did, it WOULD get better and so I hung on to that thought and it worked to keep me going when the going got tough. I am SO glad I did. Now I am so enthusiastic about breastfeeding that I love to share what I have learned if it means helping other women reach their breastfeeding goals. I have become, in a way, a lactivist. I want to support women who want to breastfeed in any way that I can. It also makes me grieve for those women out there who really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t for any variety of reasons. To me that is utterly heartbreaking. My heart goes out to you if that was your situation. Know that you did all you could do and that you are still a fabulous Mom for even trying!
I know that breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. As my Belly Buddy and I were discussing just yesterday, there are things we definitely miss since we continue to breastfeed now at 9 months. So, what follows is my list of pros and cons.
- It’s free!
- It’s portable
- You never have to worry about running out of formula in the middle of the night
- No heating required – always the perfect temperature
- No need to clean and sterilize bottles or boil and cool water to mix with formula
- No need to pack bottles and formula and water when you go out with baby
- Quality bonding and cuddling time
- It is the one thing you can give your baby that no one else can
- It confers immunity benefits to your baby (less infections, colds, etc.)
- It may even boost baby’s IQ
- Your body makes the milk just the right consistency for each stage of your baby’s growth (rich colostrum at birth, thinner milk as baby gets older)
- When your baby goes through a growth spurt, they will cluster feed to bump up your production (no need to buy and make more formula)
- It’s convenient (if you are like me, you can co-sleep and breastfeed lying down and barely have to wake up when baby is hungry or just needs comfort to go back to sleep)
- Breastmilk is easily digestible and is very unlikely to result in diarrhea or constipation compared to formula
- Breastfeeding helps Moms to lose the extra baby weight (I have no butt left to speak of! LOL)
- Stops babies from crying (works whether they are hungry, need comfort, or bumped their heads)
- Women who breastfeed have a lower incidence of breast cancer
- I eat better for the most part as I know that my nutrition affects my milk supply (always trying to get enough vegetables, meat for iron, and so on)
- It helps babies to sleep
- I love doing this special thing for my daughter and for how it makes her feel safe and secure
- Oddly enough, some of the pros are also cons. By this, I mean things like “convenience”. It is a pro of breastfeeding because it CAN be rather convenient not having to bring bottles, heat formula, etc. However, it is also an inconvenience for the mother as she needs to be nearby to feed her baby, especially in the beginning when feeds are so close together. And let’s not even get into growth spurts where babies cluster feed. It is an amazing thing, but it does restrict the amount a mother can get out of the house on her own for sure.
- It can be physically and mentally exhausting having your baby rely on you for breast milk
- It is harder to get away for extended periods on your own (unless you pump milk for someone else to give the baby)
- You need to limit your caffeine intake if baby is having problems sleeping as the caffeine goes into the breast milk
- You need to limit your alcoholic intake as it will enter your breast milk as well (if you are lucky enough that your baby sleeps well for a long period at night, you can likely have a drink without worrying, but I have not been so lucky)
- You have to watch what medicines you take (so if you have a headache, you can have Tylenol, but not that lovely Advil you are really craving). I just hope I don’t get sick as not being able to take cold medicines is horrible as I found out during pregnancy – ugh!
In any case, even with its drawbacks, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Breast truly is best!