Disclaimer: The following article is based on the writer’s personal viewpoint and experience of breastfeeding her child. In no way does it claim to judge or represent the experiences of mothers who choose to formula feed their babies.
It is breastfeeding week, and exactly a year ago I was a new mom navigating this bittersweet journey.
I was very sure the minute I found out I was pregnant, I was going to exclusively breastfeed my child the first six months. Thankfully my daughter, my support system and the universe supported me in this journey though like most moms, the initial weeks were a roller coaster ride.
Breast feeding has many advantages as we all know. It builds a strong bond between the mother and child, provides the baby the right nutrition, builds immunity for the child and is natural. It is what nature intended us to do. Though natural it still requires us to gain the right information and guide to meet our breastfeeding goals in peace.
There is more to breastfeeding than just nursing your baby. There is so much more that goes into it to make the experience comfortable for the mother and child. If your are mother who is keen on living sustainably like me, here are some tips from my personal experiences:
1. Breast feed: Congrats! You have taken your first step towards being sustainable. By breastfeeding your baby, you are not adding pressure on mother earth to provide food for your baby because you are the source. The carbon footprint is almost nil when you feed directly. The milk is always the right temperature. So no sterilising or cooling or warming required, Also, there is no packaging waste that usually comes along with cow’s milk or milk supplements.
2. Use reusable breast cotton pads instead of disposable ones: Breast pads are essentials for a new mom to prevent some embarrassing leaks. The washable pads are hardly going to add to your laundry pile (you are a sustainable mom right? So there must be enough baby cloth diapers going for laundry). Also, cotton is great for your skin and for your baby to be in contact with. A set of 4 is probably more than enough. I have some ideas on what one can do with these pads once you stop using them. But more on that later.
3. Preloved breast pump: A breast pump is usually in a new mom’s list, especially working moms. I was lucky to have been given my sister’s 12 year old pump with only the accessories replaced. I would advise the same to you too. Investing in a pump is a lot of money and in most cases its use doesn’t last for more than about 6 months. So try finding other moms who can lend or sell their pumps to you. There are many baby preloved handles on social media like @shoptwicetreasured and @soldresold that can be a good place to spot one. These machines are usually sturdy and last a lifetime .
5. Use reusable containers: Disposable breastmilk storage bags are probably the most non eco-friendly things associated with breastfeeding. If you are not storing milk for several weeks but only for a few feeds when you are going for your girls’s night out or for some me time, then the feeding bottles themselves are good storage containers that can be sterilised before use. If you are a busy mom or have more than one baby to feed, then there are many brands like Philips Avent that provide reusable containers. I’m sure these containers will be useful for other things even after you have stopped nursing your baby.
6. Get imaginative for cover: Although the internet is filled with so many fancy covers and moms posing them in public places to show breast feeding is cool, one doesn’t really need it. The use of it is short lived that it will soon gather dust with no purpose later. There are several alternates to have privacy while feeding in public. One, from my experience, is that many public places like airports and malls provide comfortable feeding rooms. A loose tee shirt works well too. The baby’s swaddle can be doubled up as a cover and they usually come in great breathable material like muslin. I have done several flight trips with those. Besides, the sari (for most Indians) is the best cover a mom can have to feed in public.