Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Breastfeeding is not only the most natural way to feed our children, but it also keeps us grounded and connected to the earth. It is the one and only method of providing nutrition to our children that leaves no carbon footprint behind and is 100% sustainable.
"Going Green" is a hot topic for those of us who are concerned with protecting and preserving our natural environment as well as cutting back on our cost of living. Health benefits for mother and child are important to consider, but "Going Green" by means of breastfeeding is also necessary to highlight as a top advantage for families and communities around the world.
"There’s no food more locally produced, more sustainable or more environmentally friendly than a mother’s breastmilk. It’s been called the most “food mile friendly” product there is. It’s a naturally renewable resource and gives babies all the nutrients they need for around the first six months of life." (2)
So, how is breastfeeding eco-friendly? For starters, it requires nothing to be produced. A mother’s magical milk-making body works wonders to have this source of nutrition readily available at all times. There is no human milk factory that produces waste and pollutes the planet. Breastfeeding requires no preparation and therefore uses no outside energy. When a baby is breastfed, there is no need to purchase, use or clean feeding products such as bottles and artificial nipples. A family does not need to use any means of transportation to reach a destination to buy human milk since it is always readily available wherever the mother is present.
The budget-friendly idea is quite appealing to most families. Who doesn’t want to save money? Breastfeeding is completely free and requires no supplies. An exclusively breastfed child may require no additional supplements until he is ready to start solids. Furthermore, the large amount of money saved there can surely contribute to mamma staying home to exclusively breastfeed her baby, if that is what she desires.
When I state breastfeeding requires no supplies, that also goes for maintenance, not just for feeding. So don’t become a victim and fall for the fancy products that claim to make your body look and feel brand new again or aid in milk production. A common cure for low supply is to increase skin-to-skin contact and more frequent breastfeeding, not those delicious lactation cookies you saw at the baby store (although they are quite delicious). What's even more delightful to share is that the best remedy to heal sore nipples is actually breast milk, not an expensive balm or cream! Did you notice the pattern here? More breastfeeding and more breast milk is almost always the solution!
"Breastmilk benefits our environment as it requires no advertising, packaging, or transport and results in no wastage. No energy is wasted sterilizing bottles and refrigerating them. Breastmilk is the perfect temperature so there is no need to use energy to heat anything and water and detergent is needed for washing and mixing bottles." (2)
Furthermore, using any fragrance, soap, lotion, cream or ointments will only interfere with your breastfeeding journey as it can irritate or inflame nipples and skin. In addition to potentially toxic and harmful chemicals used to make artificial fragrances, your baby yearns for and recognizes your natural scent which is why any kind of fragrance can negatively affect a breastfeeding relationship. Soap is not even necessary to use on our breasts because our Montgomery glands (the bumps on your areolas around your nipples) work in magical ways naturally to secrete oils which disinfect, cleanse and moisturize our nipples.
Luckily, natural ingredients such as coconut oil can work as a moisturizer and make up remover for mamma (of course to remove those organic and natural beauty products that are finally available to us). We now even have plenty of natural and gentle hair products to choose from as well. What a great time to be a breastfeeding mamma! In the same respect as we watch what we eat, we must always be mindful of what we put on our bodMiss, especially while breastfeeding.
Speaking of what we eat, nothing is healthier, more natural or more organic than human milk for our human babies. Our bodies produce exactly what our babies need and the composition of our milk changes overtime. Breastmilk actually changes daily, even from morning to night, in order to continue to meet our children’s needs.
“The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.” (3)
One last thought is to also be mindful of household cleaning products we use. The more gentle and natural, the better for our health and for the planet. Do not be fooled by great marketing strategies and products with names that appear to be natural or good for the environment and for our health. It is important to always check the ingredients and watch out for artificial fragrances and colors or dyes which can be harmful.
In conclusion, breastfeeding is the most sustainable way to feed our children. Breastfeeding will never compromise our future generation’s ability to fulfill their basic needs. Breastfeeding results in zero pollution to help preserve the beauty of our planet as well as the protection and conservation of our natural resources. Think before making unnecessary purchases; our bodies are all we will ever need to feed our infants.
“Breastfeeding and Environmental Sustainability.” Lansinoh, lansinoh.com/blogs/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-and-environmental-sustainability.
“Breastmilk and the Environment.” La Leche League GB, 3 Apr. 2016, www.laleche.org.uk/breastmilk-and-the-environment/.
“Promoting Proper Feeding for Infants and Young Children.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 29 July 2019, www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding/en/.