Is Breastfeeding Worth It?
by Felicia Henry

Felicia Henry is a mother of three children and a La Leche League Leader in Oxnard.  See the resource page for a Leader near you or call La Leche League International’s Breastfeeding Help line number at 1-900-448-7475 ext. 26 where recorded information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ($1.99 per minute, average call 5 minutes).
Felicia Henry  295 Lafayette Drive  Oxnard, CA  93030  (805) 988-9975

Have you heard stories about the “horrors” of breastfeeding: sore nipples, leaking milk, crying babies, and worries about baby getting enough milk?  They can give some mother-to-be the idea that only a lucky few can breastfeed or that one must suffer and/or supplement throughout breastfeeding.  But the reality is that with information and support, most problems can be prevented or overcome and breastfeeding can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Learning about the benefits and advantages of breastfeeding for both mother and baby is the first step many expectant parents take.  As more research is done, the list of benefits grows longer and more far-reaching.  Long-term health benefits for mother and baby are being discovered that extend long past the breastfeeding stage.  Scientists are learning how breast milk enhances the eye and brain development of infants.  Then there’s the money saved by breastfeeding.  Not just on formula and bottles, but the lowered medical costs (breastfed babies tend to have fewer illnesses requiring a trip to the doctor), and the later return of fertility can make a difference in your bank account.

While knowing the benefits of breastfeeding can help many mothers through the learning period in the early weeks, what can help if you run into difficulties? Many mothers have found that a combination of information and support is what gets them through. For example, knowing that sore and cracked nipples are not normal and the steps to prevent and treat them helps many mothers. La Leche League Leaders are available by phone 24 hours a day to answer mothers’ questions and concerns about breastfeeding (such as how to know if your baby is getting enough milk), and help them work through problems. Reading La Leche League’s book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding helps many mothers learn about and enjoy their breastfeeding relationship. Going to La Leche League meetings is a wonderful way to meet other mothers and learn tips on how to handle (the temporary) leading of milk and soothe a crying baby. Since all babies cry, no matter the feeding method, talking to mothers who have “been there” helps immensely.

One other benefit of attending La Leche League meetings is seeing one of the greatest rewards of breastfeeding the joy. Many mothers find that when their baby is between two and four months of age, breastfeeding becomes so easy and enjoyable, the blur of the early weeks was more than worth it. In addition to the ease and convenience, there’s the satisfaction of watching your baby grow and thrive on your milk. You can also see just how much your baby enjoys breastfeeding; the smiles and coos show just how much babies love to nurse. Then watching your baby slowing drift off to sleep in your arms, you understand what they mean by “bonding”.”

Another wonderful way to learn about breastfeeding is by becoming a member of La Leche League. LLL membership includes a subscription to New Beginnings, La Leche League International’s bimonthly magazine. This publication contains many personal stories about the joys and benefits of breastfeeding as well as overcoming challenges. The magazine also includes articles on new breastfeeding research and other helpful information. New Beginnings also has regular columns on toddlers, healthy eating, working and breastfeeding, staying home, and growing families. All of which goes to show just how much breastfeeding is worth it!