*A BlogHer recap post is coming soon, but first I want to share a couple of posts that came out of the Writing Labs I attended on the last day of the conference. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) here are some of my thoughts.
Why I succeeded: Support
When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn’t take it as a given that I would. Several of my friends formula fed, I was formula fed, I don’t think that formula is inherently bad. I remember making the comment that I didn’t want to pump and that I would use formula before pumping full time. I still think that may be true, but as it wasn’t my experience I can’t really speak to it. Breastfeeding worked for us. It was the one thing that was always easy. For this I am grateful. The time we spend nursing is a time to sit and be calm and relax for both of us, I joke that nursing is Simon’s most favorite thing.
When I was about seven months pregnant a friend and Le Leche League (LLL) gave me The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. This was hands down the most helpful book I read while pregnant. It spoke to me in a way that I just KNEW this is what we would do. That breastfeeding doesn’t have to be hard or painful – and that it shouldn’t be. I’d never heard that part of breastfeeding. The women I knew talked about the struggles they had and either weaned or pushed through the pain and problems. I had never heard breastfeeding in a positive “this can be a good for you too” way. I knew breast milk was best, in the same way I know many things on an intellectual level. However, I think the conversation that breastfeeding can be GOOD is missing from the discourse. The conversation tends to be breast vs. bottle but never breastfeeding can and should be a good experience for Mom too.
I went to a LLL meeting while I was pregnant. I saw women breastfeeding openly and unashamedly. This was so, so important for me. To see moms feeding their babies in an environment where it was really no different than playing or changing a diaper. I had never seen a nursing pair up close, and not that I wanted to stare, but really how do you learn to do something if you’ve never seen it done? The support I received from LLL helped me to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. Knowing I had someone who I could ask when I had questions and who was there to listen when I was frustrated about anything related to motherhood was liberating. And I used the help. LLL meetings and email support have been amazing.
Early on I was comfortable nursing while in public. Nursing covers never worked for me it was just one more thing to deal with when we were learning and then just seemed unnecessary. The first time I nursed on the subway was a little stressful. I was with Rob and we both thought it would be awkward. But you know what is really awkward – being on the subway with a screaming newborn. Nursing quiets him right up. I invested in some nursing tops and shirts with loose necklines and rarely does anyone take notice of what we are doing. I can’t tell you the number of times people have come up to see the “sleeping” baby and been a little startled. I also practiced nursing with different carriers. Not being tied to home with lots of props (boppy, stool, etc…) made it so easy to incorporate Simon into what ever we wanted to do.
Knowing how helpful it was to see breastfeeding gave me the confidence to breastfeed in public without shame. I’m discreet enough and if that simple act can help give someone else the confidence that breastfeeding is something that can be done – then I feel like I’ve given something back. The reason I breastfeed in public is because it’s how I feed my kid. Bottom line: he needs to eat and I have milk.
Today I have a nursing toddler, we are navigating what seems like a new world and I am so grateful to have a support group to help me through these new challenges. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
If you are looking for local breastfeeding support I can’t recommend enough connecting with your local chapter of Le Leche League. Find it here: http://www.llli.org/