Recently breastfeeding has been in the news. As a mom who breastfed to the best of my ability for 9 months, I have very mixed emotions about this week.
My biggest concern is how uneven the message is. Women who breastfeed (and I have been guilty of this) ride a little bit of a high horse. Yes scientifically the nutrition in breast milk has been proven to be better for your baby than formula. But some women don’t produce enough milk, a lot of OBs and nursing staff don’t have much knowledge in breastfeeding and how to support the new mom, and possibly more importantly I have yet to ready a study about the threshold of psychological health out weighing nutritional health.
Let me labor that point just a little further. I was a mom who wanted and was able to nurse my daughter. Some people will tell you that first latch is hard that it takes time to learn but I am not one of them. In my mind and apparently my hungry newborn’s mind, nursing was natural – it is what my body was designed to do after all. As long as I was home with her I had more than what I needed to meet her demand.
Even in my willingness and her ability it was HARD. That first two weeks home we awful. I wasn’t sleeping and every time she latched on there was a legit toe curling pain. Apparently normal. I dreaded when she had to latch on and I would get tense. I would think, ‘do you REALLY need to eat again?’ And I would instantly become guilty. It got better but that first few weeks were tough.
Going back to work quickly diminished my supply and my ability to pump. We needed to supplement with formula and I felt guilty all over again. To make it worse I often felt judge by moms without my struggle and all their ‘helpful recommendations’ and their pleas to just ‘stick it out until…’.
What bothers me about breastfeeding weeks is that a.) we hear the above messaging loud and clear instead of a do your best to do what’s best for you and baby message and b.) we are calling attention to nursing in public.
When nursing my daughter in public I found it to be a non issue – until someone noticed. What made me uncomfortable was the looks and occasionally the comments. Especially from childless men. I know the point is to gain acceptance and make moms more comfortable through awareness but I question the method.
This week and it’s news making nurse ins welcome commenters and gawkers. I feel as if it is counter productive to what I wanted aaa a nursing mom. Isn’t the point to make nursing as little of a big deal as giving your thirsty 3 year old a cup of water?
What do you think, effective or counter productive?