I just read a really excellent article on the benefits of “extended breastfeeding” (nursing past a year).
At Soren’s 9 month well-child check up, his pediatrician told us that breastmilk loses its nutritional benefit after a year. The way he spoke about it was like it was a closed case, like it wasn’t something we were even allowed to consider. Instead, we are supposed to start giving him massive quantities of milk produced for baby cows, which, fortunately for us, contains the perfect nutrition for human babies that human breastmilk lacks and is totally not an allergen for a ton of Americans. Oh, wait.
I’m supposed to believe that this substance that is the most perfect food on the planet for humans, custom formulated for my particular brand of baby, magically loses its potency on or about the day Soren turns one year old? Formula companies and the dairy industry have worked long and hard to incubate this attitude in the minds of medical personnel in the United States, and it’s maddening. Now, I won’t pretend that breastfeeding is the easiest thing I’ve ever done or that it’s never frustrating even any more, but let’s be honest about how much better it is than anything that can be purchased in a carton. Not to mention, purchased with monies. Mah monies that I can otherwise spend on more important things, like super dark chocolate and unbroken sunglasses.
Someone told me the other day that she didn’t think she could handle the scheduling and inconvenience of breastfeeding. What? It’s less convenient to instead use a product that one must drive to the store to procure for huge sums of cash, then have to stumble to the kitchen at midnight and three and six a.m. to carefully measure powder with water (what, no clean bottles?! CRAP!), shake it up, warm it up, and then give to your now hysterical baby. You have to do this “schedule” thing regardless of what you feed your baby- babies eat a lot. Maybe what she meant was that parenting overall seems challenging? Because breastfeeding is the convenient way out, my friends. Parenting is difficult and time consuming, always. I don’t have to worry about getting somewhere without my formula or being at a place without clean water or not realizing I am out of milk until 3 am. Nope. Marketers have just done a really, really fabulous job convincing people that formula is easy. I’ll admit that it’s easy that first, mind-blowingly hard first week of parenthood, when the baby is still figuring out how to breathe and you don’t know what day it is, let alone want to do the nursing for hours and hours again instead of sleeping. Ok, fine, they’ve got me there. But it doesn’t last! Then there’s the part where breastfed babies don’t get sick as often. That right there is worth it.
Anyway, the point is to show you this article. It’s good, you should read it.
(This post is coincidental to recent conversations about this topic!)