Quick heads up. I’m a pretty big fan of breastfeeding at the moment. At almost 9 months in everything is going pretty smoothly. It hasn’t always been that way though. I’ve had some bumps in the road, but overall it’s gone well and I enjoy it. I found that it was hard to find objective information about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. NHS sources are, understandably, very positive. You can read very negative accounts in forums. I found it really hard to get a balanced view. Here are the pros and cons of breastfeeding I’ve found so far.
The pros of breastfeeding
Personally, I’ve found that I lost weight quickly when breastfeeding. By about 2 months in I was back to the weight I was at my booking in appointment with the midwife. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone who breastfeeds though and I’ve read conflicting research. In theory it makes sense to lose weight while breastfeeding—producing milk burns a lot of calories. But I know some people find it makes them really hungry. I guess you don’t know until you try.
I didn’t put on huge amounts of weight while pregnant, so maybe it has made no difference and I would have been the same if I hadn’t breastfed, but I like to think it has helped.
As a self-confessed lazy mama, this has been one of the biggest bonuses. I hate the faff of washing and sterilising bottles, so breastfeeding has been a god send for me.
No organisation required
Again, as a lazy mama, I don’t have to worry about remembering bottles or working out how much formula I need when I go out. As long as I have my boobs, we are good to go!
Health benefits for mum and baby
Breastfeeding has tonnes of health benefits for mums and babies.
For women, studies show a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity if you breastfeed your baby.
Babies get long-term benefits from breastfeeding—even if it’s only the colostrum of the first couple of days. Babies who are breastfed (statistically) have a lower risk of infection, get less diarrhoea and vomiting, are less likely to be a victim of sudden infant death syndrome, have a lower risk of childhood leukaemia and are less likely to get type 2 diabetes or be obese.
All these benefits are seen at the population level. So, your baby won’t necessarily benefit, it has just been proven to reduce the risk of these diseases.
Nothing calms Jacob down like a long breastfeed. It’s helped when he’s been ill or just really angry about something.
The cons of breastfeeding
Feeling tied down
This has been a big con for me. Particularly at around 4 months. Being solely responsible for feeding a baby can be hard—and tiring. I found it a bit overwhelming at times, but now Jacob is feeding less I feel much less tied down. Once your baby can reliably take a bottle, it’s fine to leave them occasionally. I had a weekend away at 8.5 months.
Growth worries are a common problem in breastfed babies. It can be hard to have confidence in your body’s ability to provide enough milk for your baby. I found reading this webpage really helpful. To summarise, if baby is producing enough wet and dirty nappies and gaining weight, they are getting enough milk. It helps to know to expect cluster feeding and constant feeding during growth spurts—that means you don’t panic that baby is starving on your breast milk.
Getting the hang of it
Breastfeeding is a skill. At first, both mum and baby are learning how to do it. It was hard in the beginning and quite painful. At first, Jacob’s latch wasn’t quite right, but after getting help from a breastfeeding councillor at a Baby Cafe, things improved quickly. I’d strongly advise figuring out where to get help in advance. Now, it couldn’t be easier. It just feels so natural.
This is a bit of a flippant con, but a con all the same. It is so tiresome to constantly think “can I breastfeed in this?” before you get dressed in the morning. I am throughly sick of all my breastfeeding-suitable clothes after nearly 9 months. It would also be nice to wear a proper, underwired bra for once.
Overall, I’d definitely say the pros outweigh the cons for me. It’s not always been easy but I’m so glad I persevered at the start.