First Time Parents Guide: To Breastfeed or Not?
If you are pregnant, you’ve surely considered the question, “Should I breastfeed my baby or not?” This is not a question to be taken lightly. It’s a personal choice, and there is no “correct” answer. There are reasons why you may ultimately choose to breastfeed your baby or not, and it is important to consider which approach is right for you and your baby.
As with all things related to being a first-time parent, the pressure can sometimes feel overwhelming, and it’s important to know you’re not alone. If you have serious concerns about whether or not you, personally, should breastfeed your baby or not, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional.
In a general sense, here are some of the reasons why you may want to breastfeed your baby or not.
Why you should breastfeed your baby
There is no more complete or effective source of nutrition for your baby than your own breast milk. Nothing else comes close. It’s the only source of food your baby needs to survive through his or her first six months.
Your breast milk contains antibodies that defend your babies from illness, and there is some evidence that suggests that breast-fed babies may be less prone to allergies later in life. The act of breastfeeding can give you opportunities to forge a close bond with your new child. And it has other emotional benefits for you as a mother, as well.
Breastfeeding releases the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin. It can help you lose weight and expedite the process of your uterus returning to its normal pre-pregnancy dimensions. It gives you some time to relax, when you’re not expected to be doing anything else. And it’s simply cheaper, and in some ways less complicated, than investing in bottles and formula.
Why you should not breastfeed your baby
That said, breastfeeding can hardly be called “convenient.” As breast milk is easier to digest, your baby may require more feedings than if you go with bottle-feeding. It’s hard to quantify exactly how much milk your baby is getting through breastfeeding, versus bottle-feeding, which is easier to measure precisely.
If you decide to exclusively breastfeed your baby, you’ll need to be available for that at least six times per day, or else go through the potentially uncomfortable process of pumping your breast milk for later use. This can make it more difficult for others to care for your new baby in your absence.
For your baby’s safety and well-being, you may need to abstain from certain medications, foods, and beverages (particularly alcohol) while breastfeeding, so you don’t pass along anything your baby’s little body can’t properly handle. Consult your doctor to see if this applies to you, or if you have other specific circumstances that make breastfeeding unadvisable.
If you breastfeed, you may find yourself with sore, leaky nipples, which can cause pain and negatively affect your life in significant ways, particularly when it comes to sex. This is a challenging time in your own life, and it’s not selfish to be concerned about this.
Should I breastfeed my baby or not?
This really comes down to a personal choice. Breastfeeding can be a joy and also a commitment, and you’ll want to consider whether or not you want to do it in full light of the evidence.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. Doctors and medical professionals can help. And you’re part of a worldwide community of parents with a strong commitment to ethical, sustainable child-rearing, the values we live and work by at Ruby & Poe.
Have a look at our all-natural, high-quality, ethically sourced products, and know that, regardless of the challenges you face, you have the support you need to make the right decisions for yourself and your family.