Let me just say, opinions vary on this topic. Boy! Do they vary! And people are passionate about the decision that they make, after they make it. It's actually trying to make the decision when the time comes that can be really tough.
When a new to-be mother is discussing this at 8 or 9 months pregnant, here are some of the benefits to breastfeeding that she'll hear about:
- The milk from the mother has the best possible formulation for the health and easy digestion of her infant
- The milk is always at the right temperature
- It has all of the necessary antibodies needed for the baby
- Because the formulation is right for the child, there is less waste
- Mother nature provides supply based on need (at least that's how it's supposed to work); the more the infant takes, the more the mother then produces.
- It's always available. No worrying about forgetting bottles, formula, etc.
- It can help the mother lose her weight!
- Initially, it can make the mother very sore and can be painful, especially if there is trouble getting the infant to latch on properly
- Some ladies report continual leaking, which requires special bra padding to absorb and hide
- There can be trouble getting the baby to figure out the right latch
- It's difficult to know how much the baby is getting to drink
- The infant tends to eat breast milk more often so frequency of feeding can be more
- The mother needs to track which side the child ate from to keep milk production as even as possible
- It can sometimes be difficult to find what the mom thinks is an appropriate place to feed when the child is hungry
- If milk isn't cycled through like it should be, mastitis can occur. This is painful and usually needs the help from a doctor to oversee recovery
- Breastfeeding is harder to have others help with. (You can pump and save it for others to use.)
As I said at the beginning, this can be a contentious topic. But here's my perspective:
If you are able to make breastfeeding work, do it. It is best for the baby, and I find arguments that say otherwise without merit. The mother's milk is best, period. BUT, if breastfeeding is tried, if there is substantial pain and then frustration (during a time where the new mother is already exhausted -- tired, recovering physically, emotionally and adjusting to a new helpless creature that she's caring for), then we are fortunate that we live in a time where there is an alternative for the new mother, one other than a milk maid!!
It's important for the mom and the baby to bond, for the baby to feel the love from the mother and for the the mother to have the bandwidth to be able to give it! If breastfeeding gets to a point where it is causing the mother frustration or pain to the point where she becomes resentful, the baby can sense that. She needs to do what she's supposed to do as a mother ... make decisions based on what is best for the child (and her and the rest of the family) based on all of the factors.
Look at it like this: making a decision about whether or not this works for the mother, baby and family is the first of MANY decisions like this she'll have to make while this child develops into an adult!
See Positive Parenting with Purpose for more answers to breastfeeding questions, the pros and cons of breastfeeding, information on foods to avoid while breastfeeding, and some guidance on breastfeeding clothes. While you're there, add your own comments to my site blog! Let everyone benefit from your own experiences!