It’s world Breastfeeding week! Breastfeeding is a topic near and dear to my heart. I have struggled to breastfeed my 3 children. It wasn’t easy at all. I had almost given up multiple times. When I read about breastfeeding online, people come off as rude, condescending, blaming, and often place guilt on mothers for not doing it. I’m not going to do any of these things. Breastfeeding is often painted as roses and butterflies – and it’s not that way for many many many women. It wasn’t that way for me.
This week, I’m going to talk the realities of breastfeeding – and some ways I have dealt with them (often through sheer stubbornness) to create a healthy extended breastfeeding relationships.
I think the benefits of breastfeeding are well-known – so I am not going to replay the same old thing. Rather, I was hoping to look into the ecological benefits of breastfeeding over formula feeding . I wanted to answer the following questions…
- How does breastfeeding save energy?
- How does it save our natural resources?
- How is breastfeeding good for our planet?
A. It is well-known that women who breastfeed consume less waste. There is no need to buy tin cans filled with formula- that are then thrown out and sit in landfills, or toted off in trucks to be recycled. Breastfeeding is completely sustainable – producing little waste. The materials needed for a successful breastfeeding relationship (that I can think of and have experienced) is as follows…
- An electric pump. It uses energy to run the pump. If Mom is working – the pump is used more.
- The energy and resources it takes to make pump accessories, bottles, etc.
- Water usage that it takes to clean bottles, pump accessories, etc.
There are definite ways to cut down on this waste.
- Stay away from the plastic bag storage system. Only use bottles designed for the pump. They are washable – so you are not throwing away excess plastic.
- Buy a good double electric pump in the beginning. Just do it. It’s tax-deductible. The pump will be good for multiple children. No need to buy another pump – ever. Stay away from those over the counter manual pumps. You will just end up spending more money and consuming more materials when you have to buy more.
- Take care and store your accessories properly. Make sure your tubing, shields, valves, etc are properly cleaned and stored. This way, another baby comes along, you can just use the same equipment.
- Hire a good lactation consultant who will help you get a good start on your journey. LC fees are covered by a lot of insurance companies. It just makes sense. While breastfeeding is natural, it’s difficult. Both Mom and Baby need to learn (or relearn if mom has fed multiple babies).
B. Exclusive breastfeeding (reliable for the first 6 months) reduces unwanted repeat pregnancies. In Africa, breastfeeding is more effective than other birth control methods (http://www.infactcanada.ca/ren_res.htm).
C. The production of infant formula increases the need for lactating cows – and thus more land.
D. Not only are more animals and more space needed to produce formulas, but also more energy – to create bottles, to create formula cans, to make the formula and additives.
From an ecological standpoint, breastfeeding is more gentle on the earth.
Can you think of any other ways that breastfeeding might be more gentle on the earth than formula? I would love to hear!