The three ‘not so obvious’ benefits of breastfeeding

1. It helps us take time out to slow down and relax

As modern mum’s, we are busy. We’re either juggling other kids or work and all the pressure and expectation that modern life brings. Breastfeeding means taking time to stop, sit down, relax and just be present with our baby.

In our culture, the emotional and physical sacrifice of breastfeeding is often perceived as an inconvenience. This is one reason why bottle feeding suddenly becomes appealing even to those of us who feel passionately about breastfeeding initially.

If we can change our perspective to see the role of breastfeeding as nature’s way of trying to help us combat the exhaustion of being a mother instead of an inconvenience, it may help us view breastfeeding more positively.

2. Breastfeeding builds character

I produce babies who as newborns feed 2-hourly. It can be exhausting and there have been times when I’ve felt irritated by their cry and their fussiness, especially when I have had other things to do.

Breastfeeding has taught me the importance of patience. It has also taught me what the very essence of motherhood is all about: sacrifice. This sacrifice is one that comes from love not one that accompanies resentment.

It can be physically and emotionally draining to breastfeed and there were times when I felt frustrated that I couldn’t leave my baby, even for a few hours, just to be alone. These were times when I realised that being a mum was hard work and didn’t always fit the “it must be love love love” images that accompany TV ads.  Breastfeeding has been one aspect of motherhood that has forced me to learn how to think less of myself in order to put my children’s needs first.

3.  Breastfeeding means gentler settling

When I was up through the night with each of my babies I used to feel so thankful that I could offer them a breastfeed to settle them. It often only took a minute of suckling and I was back to bed. It was a quick fix. There were times when I didn’t know whether they were hungry or just wanted the reassurance of knowing I was close by but both of these needs are equally valid and were satisfied through a quick breastfeed.

In my experience I found it easier to breastfeed my baby then let them cry – it seemed to meet whatever need my bub had at the time.  This approach seemed a lot gentler and worked for us as a family.

As they got older, breastfeeding was also a quick fix to settle them after an injury or tantrum. I was always intrigued by the way it calmed and soothed them so quickly. It seemed that even toddlers enjoy the closeness and sense of connection breastfeeding brings and respond beautifully.

It goes without saying that I can’t wait to breastfeed again! It has been an experience that I have (for the most part) enjoyed sharing with my other children and look forward to sharing with our new addition!

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