There are lots of good and worthy reasons to breastfeed, scientifically researched and mother-tested. You can read them in any sane book on motherhood and find many more at the La Leche League site.
Then there are my reasons for using my own milk:
1. I always take my boobs with me where ever I go.
I am notoriously disorganized, although motherhood has forced me to get a bit better (see Organizing From The Inside Out if YOU need help), but you can bet I would rush out without bottles or clean nipples on the day I really HAD to stop my son from, oh, say, crying through someone else’s baby’s christening for example (yes, I forgot the pacifier that day. My own, clean nipples turned out to be a fine substitute).
2. It is the fastest way to stop that awful soul-piercing wail made by a hungry, hurt or tired baby.
The thought of having to endure the long minutes it would take to schlep to the fridge, select a bottle (assuming I had remembered to prepare some), heat it, wait for it to cool after I overheated it and finally give it to a baby apoplectic and choking on his own spit…horrifies me.
3. I don’t have to steam-sterilize anything.
4. I can keep one hand free.
I’ve tried pumping and feeding from a bottle and it certainly has points to recommend it (not least that your husband can do it, although to be honest, he probably won’t persist if the baby fusses and will just hand it back to you saying “he doesn’t want it” at which point you’ll have to feed him anyway). But the downside of bottle feeding is that you have to hold the baby AND the bottle and can’t do anything else. With breast-feeding, you cradle most of the baby’s weight on one arm and, once s/he has settled in your other arm is largely free for turning the pages of the mothering books you forgot to read while you were reading all your pregnancy books; or for drinking a big glass of water (which is good since breast-feeding makes you as thirsty as a camel after a good month in the desert); or for separating the other two children who have decided that now is a really great time to have a head-butting match.
Nursing sounds like it’ll tie you down, but I have not found it so.
It’s not a major high or anything but if you pay attention, a couple of minutes into a session you should feel that “ahhhhh” you’d get after a particularly good piece of chocolate cake. I swear I didn’t have a really bad, PMT-style mood until over a year after my first son was born and I stopped nursing.
6. Forced Inactivity.
It is hard to justify sitting still with a baby and a husband and a house (and probably visitors) to look after. You CAN nurse on the go, but it’s really a lot easier (and tends to work better, especially at first) if you are sitting down with your feet up, a cool drink by your side. This makes it patently obvious to everyone else that they’re going to have to start pulling their weight around here if anything is going to get done — and it works much better than that martyr act I used to try to pull. Instead, I get to sit and stare at my baby, feel his hot breath on my skin and feel him relax as if I were expressing neat Valium into his mouth.
7. It stops my boobs exploding.
Like it or not if you’re having a baby, your body is going to make milk. If you don’t use it, you’re going to endure a couple of days of rock-hard boobs-full-of-gravel. Much easier just to latch the baby on, I say.
8. Twisted Fun
I have to admit that a small bad streak in me enjoys the fact that I’m doing something perfectly natural and that no-one can tell me not to because, well, how can you tell someone not to feed a baby?
I was ready with all kinds of comments for when I was challenged by old ladies, middle-aged men, or anyone who asked me if I wouldn’t rather go to the restroom and do that (“Would YOU eat your dinner in there?! No? Then why should my baby?”).
I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that no-one (NO-ONE) in over two years of nursing in public, has ever given me so much as a cross look. Pah!
9. Cross-Species Snobbery
After giving my baby human-milk for a while, it started to seem really wierd that we drink milk from a cow. For a brief, insane Earth-Mother moment I wondered why we just don’t keep pumping milk forever.
Then I came back from Crazyland and buttoned up my shirt.
Yeah, I know there’s all that stuff about antibodies and bonding and that’s all good. Go and read about them at La Leche, but remember: endorphins, no bottles to clean, and sitting on your rear doing nothing, staring at your baby. All good reasons to nurse, if you ask me.