(Warning! If you are not a woman or a mom, you may feel a bit uneasy reading this post. However, if you’re interested to know why breastfeeding can be pro-God, pro-family, pro-life and pro-poor, then read on. This post originally appeared on my blog and I’ve edited it in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month in my country.)
As a breastfeeding advocate and mom to three kids who were all breastfed at one point in time — the first till he was two years and four months old; the second till she was three years and two months old; and the youngest, currently still breastfeeding at four months old — I just want to get this out in the open first: I am not in any way condemning mothers who choose to give their babies formula milk. However, science has proven that breast milk is definitely best for babies and benefits mothers, too.
Breastfeeding my eldest right after he was born
On a personal note, I love breastfeeding and really believe that it’s in order with God’s plan for mankind (or womankind, to be more politically correct). In fact, I dare say that breastfeeding is pro-God, pro-family, pro-life and even pro-poor!
First, breastfeeding is pro-God because it gives mothers a chance to participate in God’s plan for humankind, i.e. give our kids what He intended our bodies to produce for them.
Breastfeeding my second child
God really knew what He was doing when He created man and woman. Every part of our body was knit together with a specific purpose. And that includes our (women’s) mammary glands and everything connected to it! The colostrum that comes out during the first suckling moments of Baby has THE MOST antibodies and nutrients that are BEST for Baby.
To the moms reading this: Don’t believe what others say when they tell you to “give it up” because “your baby will go hungry”, or “there’s nothing coming out,” etc. Be patient and PRAY and your milk will let down in a few days’ time! God made our bodies that way, so don’t worry and just arm yourself with all the information you can get!
Next, breastfeeding is pro-family because it strengthens the bond between (1) husband and wife as he supports her, prays for her, helps her in the breastfeeding journey, especially during the first few painful days when Mama and Baby are getting into the hang of finding the right latch; (2) mother and baby as baby gets not just physical nourishment, but also quality bonding time with Mama, which helps in boosting baby’s emotional IQ (and I’d like to believe baby’s spiritual IQ too!).
Breastfeeding also gives the father time to bond with other siblings (if any) when Mama is busy nursing the new baby, since Papa doesn’t need to spend time cleaning and sterilizing bottles and preparing formula. It’s a win-win situation for the whole family.
Breastfeeding my youngest baby
Third, breastfeeding is pro-life because by giving our babies the best nutrition, we improve the quality of their lives, and give them a better chance at fighting disease and sickness that could shorten their lives.
Breastfeeding also gives the woman time to recover from birth. If she exclusively breastfeeds for the first six months, she is 99% likely not to get pregnant again (given that the “criteria” for the lactational amenorrhea method are met). This way, her body has time to recuperate, while at the same time, gives her and hubby time to bond with Baby, and give him the best of all things. What better way to sustain a life than giving nutrition from one’s own living body?
Last but not the least, breastfeeding is pro-poor. Consider the cost of bottle-feeding — which includes paying for infant formula, bottles, sterilizing equipment, etc. versus the cost of breastfeeding. Also, if infant formula is prepared wrongly (like if moms who are hard up financially try to pinch pennies by not putting the exact amount of formula as indicated, or use milk that isn’t age-appropriate for their children) or in unsanitary conditions, babies can get diarrhea and some may even die from dehydration as an effect.
Compare this to breastfeeding moms don’t have to worry about the amount of powder to mix, or clean water for baby’s milk, or sterilizing. Nursing moms also save a lot of money by not buying infant formula. These savings can be put to better use, like providing for the other needs of the family, or maybe even as start-up capital for a sideline business, or savings and investments in the form of mutual funds or stocks. So actually, in the long run, breastfeeding can indirectly help one achieve one’s goal of financial freedom! Wow. Amazing, right?!
As I write this, I recall our mission trips in Timor Leste (or East Timor), and how convenient it was for us to go from place to place without having to lug around baby bottles, cans of formula, bottles of clean drinking water, etc. So I guess you could say breastfeeding is pro-missionary too. I’ve actually breastfed standing up and walking around during our community conferences both here in the Philippines and abroad! Not to mention in tricycles, jeepneys, airplanes, public buses, trains, boats, airports, churches — everywhere my babies need to be fed.
Even our own Lord Jesus was breastfed by Our Lady. So yes, breastfeeding is perfectly in line with what God wants for us as women, and is totally pro-God, pro-family, pro-life and pro-poor. It is my hope that, through this post, more mothers will choose to give the best nutrition to their babies, and believe that God has given them what they need to breastfeed.
Copyright 2013 Tina Santiago-Rodriguez