Warning: This post contains mention of breasts, breastfeeding, and other such natural, but often, supposedly offensive, material. Read at your own risk.
This week is World Breastfeeding Week! As a subject that’s very near and dear to my heart, it deserves its own post.
Breastfeeding was never up for discussion in my mind. I knew I was going to do it, even before I thought about thinking about discussing the thought of thinking about having a child one day. I grew up watching several close friends of the family breastfeed, and I don’t think I even knew of the existence of formula until I was a teenager. So, by that time, I had a pretty set notion of what feeding a baby meant. I never said, “I’ll try it.” or “I’ll only do it for six months, or a year.” I just knew I was going to do it, no matter how hard(and it was!), how tired I was got(and I did get very tired!), or how painful(and, oh geez, it hurt, A LOT, at first). It’s been exhausting, time-consuming, and the best gift I could ever give my son. (Although, life was a pretty rad gift.)
When I became a nanny for triplets, I watched in awe as their mother breastfed and pumped for all three babies. It took up about 95% of her day, but she never once complained, and I watched as those itty-bitty newborns plumped up into perfect, healthy toddlers. That solidified my decision to breastfeed my kid, no matter what the obstacles.
Rowan was born, the cord was cut, and as soon as I was able to compose myself, and stop swooning over the kid, he latched on and started sucking. He stayed by my side the whole time we were in the hospital, and I was able to bond with him instantly. He was a champion nurser from the start, and would just lie there, those huge, blue, saucer-eyes staring at me, peaceful and content.
When I brought him home, I discovered the joy of nursing while lying in bed. Rowan would start to cry, and I would just roll over, pop my boob into his mouth, and he’d nurse back to sleep. Sure, I was acting as a human pacifier, but isn’t that the mother’s job? To soothe the baby? I haven’t been a baby for almost 31 years, but as well as I can figure, a baby would rather have a warm, loving person hold and comfort him, that a cold, rubber nipple. Just saying…
I’ve never been a shy nurser, and neither has Rowan. We’ve stopped to have a snack in some odd places; under a hot air balloon, at a political rally, on several airplanes, at zoos and aquariums and lots of stores. Most recently we took a break from exploring a cave to fuel up. While bats napped above our heads, we sat on a rock, and giggled about the water dripping on our heads.
I’ve received a comment or two, but it doesn’t bother me. There is a group on Facebook that I’m a member of, called, “If breastfeeding offends you, put a blanket over YOUR head!” I’m from the family of thought that if you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t look. Breastfeeding is natural, and while I’m not going to walk around with my boob hanging out, I will do what is necessary to feed and comfort my son, wherever we are. Besides, breasts weren’t created as a sexual organ. There were created specifically for feeding infants. In some cultures even, a breastfeeding woman will express some milk into a bowl and leave it as a treat for a family member! It’s not something to hide, or be ashamed of.
It is a shame that breastfeeding has gotten such a bad rep. I recently heard on television, a teenage mother commented, “I”m not going to breastfeed. That’s gross. It makes your boobs all big and saggy.” Hate to break it to you, kiddo, but PREGNANCY makes your boobs all big and saggy. NOT just breastfeeding. It was the gross part that really made me sad though. What experience or media input led her to believe that? What, in our society has made breastfeeding out to be gross?
It may have something to do with celebrities like Kim Kardashian(who is she anyway? Why are they famous?) saying that breastfeeding in public is gross. Or anti-breastfeeding websites, like http://notspigots.blogspot.com/ Not only do I think the people who say and write these things are extremely close-minded, I think they are ignorant. I’ve looked around a bit, and from what I can tell, people think it’s gross, because it should be a private moment between you and your baby.
Okay, here’s what I think. Eating is not a private activity. I can see more boob through the shirt of the lady walking past me in the grocery store, than you can see when I breastfeed. It’s not fair to make my kid scream while you and I eat our dinners in a restaurant, and make him wait, just because YOU have a problem. And yes, it is your problem. I will not feed my child formula, because YOU have a problem. I will comfort and feed my child wherever and whenever I need to. I will make a scene if you ask me to leave because I am breastfeeding my child. I will stand up to you if you tell me that breastfeeding my almost two-year old is not appropriate anymore. This is one of the few issues, that I simply don’t care what your opinion is regarding it.
I won’t go into all the studies, and all the facts that prove that BREAST really is THE BEST. (Though there are many, and I can easily point you in the direction of articles and professionals that will confirm this.) There are so many physical and psychological reasons to breastfeed, not only for the baby, but for the woman too! Seriously, go Google “The benefits of breastfeeding.” You’ll see.
My son is almost two, and we continue to breastfeed, though not as often. I look forward to these times of bonding and cuddling, and he still asks for, “milkies” if he’s feeling tired or stressed. I don’t see him quitting any time soon, and that’s fine with me. He’s not going to go to college breastfeeding! He’ll be done when he’s ready.
I just want to end with this. I’m not judging the women that simply CAN’T breastfeed, for lack of milk production, or working full time without a place or time to pump. For the women that gave up because it was “too hard” or took “too much time” or because “it hurt too much,” that’s a shame. It’s not only your loss, but your kid’s loss too. And it’s not me saying that. It’s the millions of doctors, articles, and studies.
And for the women that go that extra mile and pump at work, or go to their child during their lunch break to nurse, to the women that keep nursing through all the criticism, the comments, the stares, and the sleepless nights, you are my heros.
And to the women I grew up around, that breastfed your children, thank you for your wonderful example. You taught me about making sacrifices for your children, that I have been able to apply to many areas of my life as a mom.