This past week was World Breastfeeding Week, in case you missed the memo amid the Great Debt Bill Debate Mess in Congress. Yesterday the week was concluded with an attempt at another world record for the number of women breastfeeding their babies for a minute at the same time around the world.
I have never been, and I am not inclined to be, a “Boob Nazi”. I have never joined or participated in anything like La Leche League, because I have encountered some attitudes from organized pro-breastfeeding groups and lactivists that are less forgiving of real moms who are making the best decisions they know how for their real babies. Yes, I believe that breast milk is the most natural and most perfect food for human babies, but I also know there are definitely babies who would not make it through infancy if not for formula. I also don’t subscribe to the holier-than-thou attitudes some lactivists display towards moms who don’t breastfeed or who don’t breastfeed for “long enough”.
That said, Pud and I went to our local gathering to participate in the Big Latch-On yesterday. I’m so glad we went! Here’s why:
1. There were so many moms and babies! I loved the feeling of camaraderie among this diverse group that represented different races, ethnicities, socio-economic groups, religions, political beliefs, and more. It gives me hope that more mamas who want to breastfeed will have someone around to give them the support and encouragement to do so.
2. It was reassuring to see the wide range of ages of nursing babies and toddlers. There were lots of other mamas who did not stop nursing their babies at or before 6 months! Yeah, we’re not alone! Pud is going to be nursing for awhile, and neither B nor I have a problem with that. He has some dietary restrictions and allergies that would make it difficult to provide him with the complete nutrition he needs without having breast milk. He will wean when he’s ready. He is far too much of an “I do it myself!!” kind of a kid to be worrying that he’s never going to stop. He will. When he’s ready.
3. Pud got to see other babies nursing, something that neither of us see very often. This is important, because someday, he will be a daddy. I could never, ever have survived those first *very* challenging and sleep-deprived first weeks of figuring out the process and rhythm of nursing with Pud without the support and encouragement of his daddy. Like playing with dolls now teaches him to be a better daddy someday, seeing mamas nursing teaches him that breastfeeding is valuable, so he can be supportive of his wife someday.
4. There were some funny shirts to read. My favorite, as our Pud refuses to drink milk out of anything but me, is “I drink from the tap”. I’m seriously considering making him his own shirt with a similar phrase.
5. I wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to make breastfeeding work if I hadn’t been exposed to a few women nursing their babies while I was growing up. That would be a grand total of 3 women that I can remember: my sister, a teacher friend, and a woman from our church. Certainly, I wouldn’t have ever thought about breastfeeding my babies if it hadn’t been for those 3 women. Bottles are just the accepted norm around here- and they are certainly easier to use for getting baby fed than struggling with latches and engorgement and inconvenient let-downs and cracked nipples and clogged ducts! Maybe by being comfortable with nursing whenever we need to nurse, regardless of where we are, some other mom will find the confidence to try it, or the courage to ask for help with their own nursling, or to nurse for longer than they might have otherwise.