Ask the experts: Eco benefits of breastfeeding

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Joining us today to discuss how breastfeeding can make a green difference is Gina Ciagne, Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Senior Director of Professional Relations,Lansinoh Laboratories, Inc.

breastfeedingnewStudies continue to show the benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies, and they extend far beyond the breastfeeding period. In addition to the health benefits, many moms cite economic and environmental reasons for deciding to breastfeed. Breastfeeding in general is an eco-friendly practice as it is a renewable resource and it reduces waste and pollution in a number of ways. Here are some of the many ways you can make being a breastfeeding mom an even more eco-friendly practice:
1) Breastfeeding saves the environment and makes our society healthier!Human milk is made for human babies and, thereby, does not need to be processed, packaged, or delivered. By breastfeeding, you are doing your part in ensuring your baby gets the best start in life with benefits that last a lifetime. Even better, you aren’t adding to landfills or polluting the air, water and ground—all of which happen as a result of the processing and manufacturing of formula and related products. Plus, you don’t have to worry about BPA and other toxins that can leach into formula from cans and containers. For those of you who pump and feed breastmilk exclusively or occasionally when apart from your baby, you can be extra safe with using BPA-free, safe plastics like polypropylene.
2) Breastmilk has no unnatural by-products or additives!Breastmilk does not contain any by-products or additives, unlike breastmilk substitutes. While mothers do pass along what they eat and possibly some toxins that may be in their system, the risk is far less and offset by the myriad of benefits of breastmilk. Plus breastmilk adapts and changes according to the baby’s age and needs—something that artificial milk cannot do!
3) Even pumping moms help the environment!If you are away from baby or back-to-work and using a breast pump, you need to use products to feed that milk—unfortunately those products will likely contribute to landfills. You could consider using glass or BPA free bottles, but you can also know that by expressing your milk, you are contributing less to the landfills by not using and throwing out cans and other formula-related waste, and not contributing to the drain on land, water and environmental resources.
4) Make your own baby foods!With so many of us working and parenting full-time, it may be inconceivable to think about making your own baby food, but it is easier than you may think! Breastfeeding is recommended exclusively for the first 6 months of baby’s life, for 12 months with complementary foods, and thereafter as long as mutually desired. Keep in close contact with your healthcare provider, but at 6 months, baby’s tummy will likely be ready to start practicing with solids—and remember that it really is practice, as the primary source of nutrition should ideally be breastmilk even after 6 months. Instead of using packaged and manufactured products, mash up a vegetable or fruit with a fork! There are hidden additives, sugars, and unnecessary ingredients in many baby foods and by making your own, you can avoid toxins like BPA that is often used in the cans and lids of jarred baby foods. By preparing your own baby foods, you know what is in it and, more importantly, what is not in it.
5) Breastfed babies poop a lot—use reusable diapers and wipes!Save yourself money while also saving the environment. Breastfed babies poop a lot because breastmilk is more easily digested than formula—and less smelly and staining because it is natural. If you aren’t ready to jump into using reusable diapers and wipes all the time, try to at least cut down on the number of disposable diapers and wipes when you are out and use reusable’s at home. I can hear you moaning now, but think about how many diapers and wipes babies use and how long it takes for a diaper to break down in a landfill—it takes many years and you can do your part in reducing that waste and saving the planet.

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