Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Bennett, a La Leche League of Lenawee Leader. A Detroit native, Jennifer moved to Lenawee County 14 years ago; when her first child was born, she gladly left the corporate world behind. She and her husband have two girls who keep them busy with homeschooling, chauffeuring, making lots of messes and creating lots of memories. They enjoy being outdoors, making crafts, playing games, sharing movie nights, making music, participating in church activities, and seeing their extended families as much as possible.
It seems like everywhere you go you hear talk of people trying to save money, be healthier, and go green—and let’s face it, why shouldn’t we be striving for those things? Did you know that one of the easiest & most convenient ways of doing so is by breastfeeding or by encouraging a pregnant friend or family member to breastfeed? As a Leader with La Leche League (lah lay-chay league) of Lenawee, I’d like to share some of these benefits with you.
One of the most popular reasons to breastfeed is that it’s free! One year of breastfeeding can save you anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 by not buying formula. Think of what you could do with that money! And that doesn’t include all of the bottle accessories—bottles, liners, nipples, brushes and/or sterilizers, etc. But the health savings don’t stop there. Breastfed babies tend to have stronger immune systems and higher resistance to common illnesses. There are typically fewer “sick-child” doctor visits in the early years, so fewer co-pays and deductibles for mom. Those health benefits carry on into the child and teen years. Fewer sick days for baby also means fewer sick days for working moms, too.
Another popular reason to breastfeed is that it’s convenient—it’s the original “fast-food.” This was one of my favorite perks. There were countless times when we were visiting with friends or family and had decided to stay longer than we had planned—sometimes even overnight. It was nice to enjoy that spontaneity. Also, as a breastfeeding mother, you can feed your baby even when normal supplies of food and water are not available, like during power outages.
Then there are the health benefits for moms. Did you know that breastfeeding that sweet newborn burns 500 extra calories a day? It’s a great, easy way to shed those pregnancy pounds. Also, statistically, breastfeeding moms see reduced rates of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Babies enjoy the health benefits, too. In addition to fewer illnesses (mentioned above), breastfed babies have a decreased likelihood for allergies, dental cavities, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity—all the way into adulthood.
Even though breastfeeding is a completely “natural” process, there are lots of challenges. Frustration sets in when difficulties occur. That’s why finding support is so important. Those first couple of weeks after delivery can be especially challenging and stressful for a new mom. Having someone to talk to—someone who’s “been there, done that”—is vitally important. Where can you turn when it’s 2 a.m. and you need to ask a question? Where can you go to meet and talk with other breastfeeding mothers? Who can show you empathy and encourage you to not give up?
One place is your local La Leche League (LLL) Group. You can come to one of our free monthly meetings or call a Leader on the phone with your questions (before 9 p.m.). If it’s late at night, you can call the national help line or go right to www.llli.org, LLL International’s fabulous website. There’s a large FAQ section there and you can get answers to your questions while you’re up feeding baby. Our meetings are great because just knowing other women who have breastfed their babies can be helpful and reassuring. Having accurate, up-to-date information is very important, too. We can give you the network of support you need.
I began attending La Leche League meetings 10 years ago, and have been a Leader for 6 years now. As your local La Leche League Leader, I volunteer my time by hosting monthly support meetings, answering helping calls as best I can, maintaining our group lending library, and keeping up with the latest breastfeeding research through ongoing education.
I invite all pregnant & nursing mothers (plus their little nurslings) to our meetings—they are held on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Tecumseh.