Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free Lunch at Mom's

We can't have a Green Parenting month without mention of the environmental benefits of breastfeeding. I realize that this is a decision that can only be made at a specific time in a woman's life and that not every woman or baby can breastfeed, even if they wish to (although, medically, this is not common). I also realize that there are many other health and personal benefits that breastfeeding families enjoy, but that is a topic for another blog. For anyone out there reading this who might be expecting or planning a pregnancy, here are the reasons it fits with Green Parenting:

Think about the energy that goes into making formula. First you have to either grow soybeans or have a dairy production-both that require lots of energy input and chemicals such as pesticides and hormones. Yes, I realize that there are organic formulas out there which is wonderful for those unable to breastfeed, but this isn't the choice made by the majority of formula-feeding parents. That commodity is then sent to a plant to be processed and then likely another plant to be made into formula. Other chemical vitamins must also be produced, shipped and then added to the formula as well. The product is then shipped to stores around the country. Parents then drive to the stores to buy it and mix it with water in bottles (that also had to be manufactured, most from plastic). This doesn't count the miles put on the cars of all the 20-something sales reps as they canvas the OB/GYN's offices or other marketing. Then there is the energy output to heat the formula and the energy needed to clean the bottles.

Now lets talk about the energy needed to breastfeed. Human milk is made from the energy from food that the mom eats or that is stored in her fat cells. Talk about sustainability! What if we could run cars off fat cells? What mom doesn't have a bit extra at the end of a pregnancy? The milk is the perfect temperature, always at the ready, comes in it's own attractive container and doesn't need to be refrigerated between feedings. All that and healthy too.

If you are not in a point in your life to be making a decision about breastfeeding, you can still help by supporting others that do make this choice. Smile when you see a breastfeeding mom in public, bring a meal or other help to a new mom, stand up for a baby's right to eat wherever he/she is hungry (not in the public restroom), support breastfeeding moms in your workplace when they need to take breaks to pump milk.

If you are expecting or a new mom with breastfeeding questions or concerns, check out a local La Leche League group at
There are several groups that meet monthly in Waukesha County. Trained leaders are available for telephone help 7 days a week.

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