**Disclaimer: This article is simply about the benefits of breastfeeding from a minimalist’s perspective. I am aware that, “not all women can breastfeed.” I have seen a couple of mother’s who wanted nothing more than to breastfeed their child and have a really hard time. It is heartbreaking. Instead of sweeping the issue of breastfeeding vs. formula/bottle feeding under the rug as an attempt to not offend some, I prefer respectful sharing of proper breastfeeding education and encouraging more breastfeeding support for new moms. With more proper education and support for women we can have better breastfeeding outcomes for mothers and their babies. The truth is that nursing our babies is important. No woman should EVER be shamed for how she is feeding her baby, AND it’s still important that we keep the discussion going. Babies lives quite literally depend on it. If you’d like to learn more about the health benefits of breastfeeding for a year and beyond, you can read about them here, here and here.**
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. The body naturally makes this perfect food for your young with health and healing properties that are nothing short of magic. There is now a lot of science backing the importance of breast milk, and more and more women are educating themselves on the benefits of nursing for a year and beyond.
I like to think of myself as a minimalist, and I have been described as such. I am not a big consumer. I don’t own much stuff, and I am in the process of downsizing even more. I buy second hand or friends give me things for free. I have dumpster dived. I own a single pair of jeans and one (maybe two?) pair of shoes. I don’t own cable TV (or even a TV for that matter). I didn’t have that urge to make a nursery for my son before he was born, so I didn’t. My food is for the most part, clean and simple (because who doesn’t like a vegan doughnut from time to time, eh?). I have been a member of the no ‘poo club for coming up on four years, and don’t remember the last time I have taken so much as an Advil. I rely on herbal tea, healthy food and a lot of rest to get me through my aches and ails. I don’t go to the doctor and I get a little hard on myself when I forget my reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. I forget that people still buy things like paper towels and trash bags. For me, I have learned that in many ways less is better. By doing and having less in so many areas of my life I have gained more in the areas that are valuable to me. I now have more happiness, more time, more freedom and more healthy days.
That’s great and all, but what does this have to do with breastfeeding, you ask? Well, although I knew I would breastfeed my son for all the health benefits, I would sort of be lying if I said it wasn’t because it serves the minimalist in me, too. Maybe you already know the health benefits of nursing, but you wonder, is it easier? Is it efficient? The short answer is yes. If you’re on the path to becoming minimalist then breastfeeding is still the perfect option for you. Here are 5 benefits of breastfeeding from a minimalist’s perspective:
- It’s free.
We minimalists love free shit. Anytime you don’t have to spend money feels like hitting the jackpot for a minimalist. Some people call it being cheap, I call it being resourceful. The world already has so much stuff and everything we need. We don’t need to keep buying things brand new. It’s wasteful and unsustainable. They say the best things in life are free and breast milk is no exception.
2. Less STUFF.
I heard someone say one time that the majority of life is just moving around piles of stuff. Minimalists hate clutter and owning a bunch of stuff. More stuff equals less freedom for a minimalist like myself. Not just at home, but even when I am out and about or traveling I can’t stand lugging around a bunch of stuff. One light, medium-sized bag is all I need and that didn’t change when I had a child. A couple of diapers, a change of clothes, a snack and I’m out the door. My home is no different. I feel best with less occupying my drawers, shelves, cabinets and counter tops. If you so choose to feed your child from the breast then you get to avoid bottles, pumps, drying racks, brushes, storage bags, bottle warmers, etc. People will always try to give you more stuff when you have a baby. It’s good though because it all makes for nice re-gifting items. AKA more free shit.
*I know certain circumstances require a mother to pump. I think it’s important to give your baby breast milk the best way you can, even if that means through a bottle. Remember, I am simply writing about breastfeeding from a minimalist’s perspective and to be a minimalist or an aspiring one doesn’t mean you have to be perfect at minimizing every aspect of your life.*
3. More time for other things.
OK-Does pumping bottles, prepping bottles, warming bottles and cleaning bottles take up THAT much time? Maybe not, but it can add up. Minimalists like me like to maximize their time in order to have freedom to do things they enjoy doing. One way we do this is by not doing things we find unnecessary or tedious. Having a baby is already a lot of work in itself. The less I have to manage, clean and take care of, the better, because babies can be a handful, especially if you have more than one to look after.
4. It’s better for the environment.
A significant part of being a minimalist is minimizing your carbon footprint. The manufacturing and packaging of bottle feeding products such as paper, plastic and tin contributes to A LOT of waste and toxins. Not to mention the effects the dairy industry-who makes the formula- has on the environment. The dairy industry is known for contributing to air pollution from methane gas and water pollution because of sewage from dairy cows and water runoff of soil, pesticides and manure. You also have to take into consideration the toll transporting all these products has on the environment. For a very detailed and thought provoking outline of the many ways not breastfeeding effects the environment, read this article, BREASTFEEDING AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Some pretty interesting stuff that we often never even consider.
5. Less sick days, doctor’s visits and medication.
One result of minimizing your life is that you get healthier. I think it’s a combination of less stuff = less stress, eating healthier whole foods as a result of not buying a bunch of packaged processed food and making your own meals at home from scratch vs eating out. Ever since I began my journey as a minimalist I haven’t taken any medication, been to the doctor and I am rarely sick. When I do get sick I get over it very quickly, as in like less than a day in many cases. I have also drastically changed my diet but that’s another blog post! Studies show babies who are exclusively breastfed are sick less often than formula fed babies and experience less gastrointestinal issues and ear infections. They also are less likely to develop diabetes and certain cancers. Breastfeeding also lowers their risk of obesity. Don’t even get me started on all the health benefits it has for us mothers, too! If you want to know about all the things that breastfeeding helps prevent then see the links I provided in the disclaimer at the top.
My 15 month old has only been sick once during a difficult bout of teething, he’s never been to the doctor or been on any type of medicine. I attribute this largely to him being breastfed. You know what you also get when you’re not spending so much time in the doctor’s office? See number 3 🙂