Breastfeeding is always a hot topic. After nursing 3 babies (2 being twins), here are:
5 things I think about breastfeeding now
1. When people say something discouraging about breastfeeding, it really hurts
How you feed your baby is YOUR CHOICE. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says. So, when someone (especially a family member) says something discouraging or disparaging about the choice you made (breast, formula, or a combination), it cuts like a knife.
I try to ignore it and remind myself how I am using my boobs for the exact purpose they are meant for – feeding my babies. I think about why men are attracted to large breasts. A woman with big boobs implies she will be able to feed his babies (although cup size has nothing to do with a woman’s ability to make milk).
Breastfeeding should be viewed as beautiful, not disgusting. When you think about it, we are the only species on the planet drinking another animal’s milk. Milk is meant to nourish a baby, cow’s milk is meant for baby cows. Human milk is meant for human babies. It’s a simple concept, but this still blows my mind. We have normalized buying gallons of milk at the store, but seeing human milk feeding our babies is weird. When someone says something small like “I don’t know why you’re doing that. I didn’t breastfeed my babies and they turned out fine” I try to be mindful and educate, but sometimes I really want to say, “Why do you care? You did what you wanted to do for you kids, and I’m not asking YOU to breastfeed my baby for me, so please back off.”
2. No matter what you do, everyone has an opinion on how long you should breastfeed
You expect to see a mom breastfeed an infant, but if you breastfeed past infancy – you’re weird? No one is asking the misinformed and opinionated adult watching a mother nurse her baby (who is older than 6 months) to pop a boob and breastfeed the kid themselves – why do they care? New moms are already second-guessing if what they are doing is right, so judgment from others is not helping.
3. Babies and boobs take over your world
Just like a new baby completely takes over your world, breastfeeding consumes you because you are always thinking about if you need to nurse or not.
Nursing (for any amount of time) is SO much more involved than I ever thought. It’s not as simple as just putting the baby on the boob, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes incredibly simple. The stress and effort melts away. I just had to get over the hump.
4. Finding breastfeeding role models can make or break the experience
Chances are our moms didn’t breastfeed us (breastfeeding rates were at an all-time low in the 1970’s and didn’t start to increase until the 1980s). New moms today do not have breastfeeding role models to tell us what’s normal and what is not. Finding someone educated and experienced in breastfeeding makes a big difference in how things go for a new mom.
5. Breastfeeding is NOT all or nothing and no two nursing experiences are exactly alike
Every breastfeeding experience is unique. Some moms will pump, some supplement with formula, some need to fortify their milk, and others may use a supplemental nursing system to help their babies get some breastmilk. A breastfeeding mom will go to great lengths to give their baby milk and each breastfeeding mom’s experience is incredibly unique (like a snowflake). My nursing experience and relationship with each of my three daughters was different.
6. Boobs can bring world peace
Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but boobs solve nearly every reason a baby is crying. They are like magic. Baby is crying, give them the boob and they are calm and happy again. Mother is the baby’s environment. They were in us for (ideally) 40 weeks, and now they want to be as close to us as possible. Cuddling and nursing is as good as it gets for a baby and it helps mamas feel pretty awesome to know they can calm their baby like no one else can in the whole world (like a superhero). When my 1.5 year old daughter ran into a chair and was crying uncontrollably because she had a fat lip and mangled tongue I wished she still nursed because I knew it would have calmed and soothed her immediately.
Alas, my nursing days are over… but it was great while it lasted.