When women look back on the time they spent breastfeeding their babies, what they most remember is the closeness, the intimacy of feeding a baby at the breast. Whether you’re someone who is swept away by the romance of motherhood or a more practical person who feels the milk is there for a reason, the feeling of satisfying your baby’s hunger with your own milk will strike you as incredibly fulfilling.
The closeness between the breastfeeding mother and baby is important. When you feed your baby at the breast, you tap into a valuable resource for mothering and nurturing your baby that is tested and true, as old as time itself. When you choose to breastfeed, you continue the “oneness” that you and your baby experienced during pregnancy. Your body continues to provide nourishment, warmth, comfort and safety, just as it did when baby was inside you. Once you’ve mastered the basics, breastfeeding will make mothering easier.
- Breastfeeding is convenient. Food is available for baby within seconds wherever you go. No sterilizing bottles and nipples, and taking the time and effort to prepare formula.
- Breastfeeding helps you know and understand your baby. It can affect the way you listen to your child, the way you communicate and the way you respond for many years to come.
- Breastfeeding makes discipline easier as your child grows, since a breastfeeding mothers knows her baby well.
- Breastfeeding mothers take pride in providing food for their babies, and they feel confident about parenting children they know so well.
How does breastfeeding do all this? To breastfeed successfully, mothers must learn to pay attention to baby’s cues and trust them. Mothers learn to be child-centered, to think in terms of the baby’s needs and how to meet them. The many, many times and different ways in which a breastfeeding mother interacts with her baby make both members of the breastfeeding pair more sensitive to one another’s social signals.
Of course, it’s possible to breastfeed and ignore these lessons in lifelong parenting, but for most mothers and babies (and fathers, too) learning to breastfeed is an important step in building a trusting relationship that extends well beyond the baby years.