When it comes to being a new parent, there’s so much information out there on what to buy and how to do things. Everyone from your coworkers to in-laws has endless advice, even when it’s not asked for. For those of us who are environmentally conscious, the decisions we have to make become even harder as we search for the most eco-friendly items and organic consumables.
Thankfully, there are some choices that are reasonably straightforward and one of those is breastfeeding. While it sometimes isn’t possible, for any number of medical reasons, breastfeeding is the most natural, environmentally friendly and most economical way to feed your baby for at least the first six months of their lives.
There’s a lot of buzz in the news these days about breastfeeding education. Breastfeeding advocates are standing up for women’s rights to feed their babies in public. While women in much of the world are being protected under national legislation, which allows public nursing, many women continue to feel ashamed to feed in public and fear negative comments or public objections. Breastfeeding activists are working to make the practice more acceptable through protests especially via social media. There are some great articles and photo galleries circulating online that normalize breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding over bottle feeding makes sense in so many ways, but as far as the eco-friendly argument goes. The overall reason why environmentally conscious women may want to breastfeed as long as possible is that it literally requires no “stuff”. That means less energy and fewer materials, namely plastic, will be used in the process of feeding babies. Breastfeeding does not require bottles made of plastic or glass, artificial nipples made of silicone. It also means less processing and synthetic production used in infant formula to mimic the nutrients of breast milk.
Instead, breastfeeding encourages a healthy lifestyle for moms and babies. A recent ad campaign in Brazil brought awareness to the dangers of eating fast foods and junk food while nursing. The message they were trying to convey is that your baby more or less ends up eating what you do.
So, breastfeeding women might want to pay as close attention to their diet as they did when they were pregnant. That means lots of fresh fruits and veggies, drinking lots of fluids, especially water, reducing the number of caffeinated drinks they consume, eat lots of fish, lean meat and alternatives and stay away from sugary foods.
Not only does breastfeeding encourage mothers to make healthy lifestyle choices, it also gives babies a healthy head start. Breast milk has natural antibacterial properties, which help babies ward off sicknesses and reduce their use of cold medications and antibiotics.
For educated advice on the subject, new moms can go to La Leche League International and look for a support group in their region.