Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boobies, Milkies, Nursies: In Honor of World Breasfeeding Week

Disclaimer: this post is all about boobs and breastfeeding, and there may even be pictures....if that bores or offends you, feel free to move on.

So I'm a week late, last week was World Breastfeeding Week but better late than never. Let me begin by saying that the pre-mommy me had very different views on breastfeeding. I saw it as strictly a nutrional thing, good to do for the first 6 months, maybe a year to give your baby the best start. However, you should try not to breastfeed in public, and if you absolutely must, PLEASE cover up. And if you're "baby" is older than a year then there's no reason you should ever nurse in public.

But now I'm....

Our breastfeeding journey is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood for me. It was rocky at first, with the constant nursing (which is normal by the way) then the dairy/soy intolerances that took months of trial and error to figure out what I could and couldn't eat. Now it's much better and I've just adjusted to life with almost no dairy or soy products. It wasn't easy, but it is worth it for us. I was never very fond of nursing in public, but there were times it had to be done. When she was little, my boobs dwarfed her head so it was hard to be discrete, and nursing covers were way more trouble than they were worth. It was hot under there, you can't see to help the baby latch and I needed a hand to hold my boob and a hand to hold her head. It was an awkward mess and the covers got ditched very very early on. Then I mastered the nursing tank under a real shirt combo. The flaps on the tank open and you pull down the top of your regular shirt, so everything is covered. But again, you're messing with special shirts and bras and hooks and clasps and really it's a PITA. After a few months I was able to get comfortable just lifting my shirt and bra up from the bottom, once she was able to do theAlign Left work and latch herself on. Then the only thing that showed was a little bit of tummy. Not ideal, but it works. about 9 months after finally figuring out the fine art of NIPing (nursing in public) Miss Lucy went and changed the game by getting easily distracted. This meant she would nurse a few seconds, pop off to look around, repeat. This made for very indiscrete and ineffective nursing, so that pretty much ended our NIP. Now that she's eating a lot of solids and drinking other things like water and almondmilk, we don't nurse nearly as often as we used to. Now on workdays it's basically in the morning, when I get home from work and at bedtime (and in the middle of the night if it's my night on monitor-duty). On my days off it's a different story and she might nurse several more times a day, even though most of those are quick "check-ins" to reconnect or settle down.

I've been asked how long I plan to breastfeed her, and people probably think I'm being evasive when I say I don't know, but I truly don't know. I won't ever force her to wean. I'll let her wean on her own terms, although after she turns two, I'm planning to switch from offering to a "don't offer, but don't refuse" method. Maybe she'll wean when I'm pregnant again and my milk supply decreases, but maybe she won't. I can't say the thought of nursing a toddler and a newborn makes me jump for joy but I'll certainly do it if that's where we are when the time comes.

For more info: is a great resource on all things breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are for exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no other liquids or solid foods) for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding should at least continue for a year and can continue for as long as is mutually desired by mother and child.

The World Health Organization agrees, but extends the recommended minimum to 2 years instead of one.

And here's the Surgeon General's recent Call to Action on Breastfeeding.

Ok, getting on the soap box a bit. My biggest hope is that if any of you have friends or family members who are breastfeeding, or extended breastfeeding past the first 6-12 months, that you'll be supportive and encouraging and proud of the job that mom is doing. Breastfeeding is not easy, it can be isolating and nervewracking but having a core support system is critical. Know that while breastfeeding, especially for longer than a few months isn't "the norm" it is not strange or weird. It is natural and loving, and is not selfish. Rather it is a selfless gift given to a child. If a newborn is nursing around the clock, don't suggest that he is starving and needs formula. Know that breastfeeding, while natural, is not necessarily easy and problem-free. That doesn't mean it isn't worth it. If mom is crying because she's tired and sore and wants to give in, encourage her that the first few weeks are the hardest but that she's doing a great job. Once she gets more comfortable taking the baby out in public, don't suggest that she feed her baby in a bathroom or use a cover. Don't suggest that she's selfish for being the only one able to feed the baby, don't say that she's spoiling the baby, or that it'll never wean, or ask questions like "When are you going to stop THAT?" or "You're STILL breastfeeding?" Know that nursing is more than nutrition, it's comfort and that comfort nursing is a huge part of the nursing relationship. It's like a nutritional hug :) It's ok to be uncomfortable with it. I certainly was. It's normal to be uncomfortable with things we don't understand or are unfamiliar with. But take the time, if you're so inclined, to educate yourself a bit and understand more about the benefits and specifics of breastfeeding. I have been very lucky to have supportive family and friends, but I know many others aren't that lucky.

If this is socially accepted:

Then there's no reason why this shouldn't be (except for the hideous naked bed..the sheet was in the wash ;))

1 comment:

MCM Mama said...

Lovely post. My boys called them "nanos", which still makes me giggle when I hear ipod nano.

I nursed both until 3+, but did eventually have to do a bit of mommy led weaning to get us to an end.