Giving it your breast shot!

I’m going to step on my soapbox for a “tiny” second minute. It has never been my intention to use this blog for anything more than a way to document my thoughts on my motherhood journey however I feel I need to speak about something that can be but shouldn’t be controversial. I’m going to talk about breastfeeding.

Some of you are applauding.

Some of you are wincing.

Some of you don’t care.

Some of you are sharpening your best kitchen knives and practicing your aim at the computer screen.

I get it. It’s a subject that can rile up a lot of emotions especially if you

-think there’s no excuse not to do it
-tried it and couldn’t get it to work out no matter what you did
-were physically unable to do it
-had to stop for medical reasons
-think it reinforces outdated gender roles
-never wanted to do it
-got some flack about doing it/not doing it/how you did it

It’s a touchy subject.

So what made me risk alienating my regular readers (I love all three or four of you)? I keep coming across stories (in person or online) where breastfeeding efforts ended earlier than mom wanted and in my opinion it was usually due to lack of proper support or good information. This makes me sad. It also makes me angry. No, I’m not angry at the moms. They did the best they could with the information and support they had at the time. I’m angry that the society I live in has made it so that we need to read books and take classes in order to feed our babies with the food nature intended for them. This society has done a damned good job of making sure that what should be sacred knowledge passed from mother to mother has been lost due to corporate greed, insidious marketing techniques, a belief that technology can adequately replace what nature provided, increased sexualization of breast function and some other reasons that don’t spring to mind at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think formula is Eeeeevillllll. However, I do believe its use should be reserved for instances where a baby has no access to healthy breastmilk (mom’s or from a donor), or is not thriving on breastmilk. In short, I look at breastmilk as normal infant food and formula as an imperfect substitute that’ll do when used judiciously in safe conditions. Your mileage may vary, of course.

But I’m no breastfeeding expert. I’m a new mom who’s navigating breastfeeding for the first time. I was committed to doing it before I was pregnant and I grew up in a culture where it wasn’t unusual to see a mother breastfeeding. Still, I had to read a lot about the subject while I was pregnant. That’s how I discovered how little I knew and how some of the well-meaning advice I received once Baby E was born was actually misguided.

Unfortunately, lots of mothers are not receiving good breastfeeding information even if they have every intention of breastfeeding their child. On top of that, there seems to be a breastfeeding backlash going on in the media where breastfeeding benefits are being second-guessed and breastfeeding advocates are portrayed as judgmental harpies.

So, at the risk of coming off as a know-it-all and judgmental harpy, here’s what I’ve learned about breastfeeding that I think can help another mother:

1. Make the commitment – Anything less is potential for self-sabotage

2. Get educated – Breastfeeding is a natural act but it doesn’t always come naturally to us

3. Get support from people who actually know about breastfeeding, such as other breastfeeding moms, lactation consultants, La Leche League leaders, etc.

4. Understand that your doctor or nurse may/can give you bad breastfeeding advice

5. Know that what happens during and shortly after your child’s birth can affect your breastfeeding relationship

6. Breastfeeding isn’t always comfortable at first because it’s a learning process for both mom and baby

7. Pumps and bottles can be very convenient but sometimes they can affect your milk supply if it means your body starts to think your baby doesn’t need to be on the breast

8. A good breastfeeding pillow can make a big difference

9. Learn about the side-lying position because you might get more sleep that way

10. Your breastfeeding relationship with your baby changes over time and will end at some point

So while breastfeeding can be challenging, it doesn’t have to be horrible. Many moms will and have found ways to make it work for them and their children. I just wish all breastfeeding moms would have that chance.

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Posted on August 23, 2009, in Breastfeeding, My soapbox, New mommyhood and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. All I have to say is, Right on! I agree with every single point you made in this post. Every one. 🙂 And I love the non-judgmental way you present the information.

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