Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By Request: Update 3"The Ugly: Breast Feeding and Mother Guilt"

I have been contacted again by a few readers for an update about breastfeeding.

Holy freaking cool is that? People are reading this blog! Remembering this blog! Asking for updates! My ego rejoices!!

Yes, two exclamation points.

And ... back to the point of this blog. Back in July 2011, I posted a blog about my struggles with early breastfeeding. Then in August, I posted an update. Followed by another one in December based on request. Then I sorta let it die. I thought I had covered the topic and frankly, I don't really think about nursing that often any more. But it turns out there are people out there that want an update from a "normal" mom, especially after the whole TIME thing (link does not go to the original story, but a commentary on Huffington Post). So, here ya go, dear readers.

I'm still nursing my little boy who is now 11 months old. All those things that I was told back in the day and did not believe - easy, natural - have become totally true. Nursing is super, super easy. It is natural. It is awesome. Yes, I just wrote that, nursing is awesome. I truly enjoy breastfeeding my little boy and I know that he truly enjoys breastfeeding. Two very happy people. Neither of us are planning on stopping any time soon.

We finally meet the expectations set by the medical community and society in general. So, we are all happy, right?

Wrong. Because, strangely, once a baby hits six months old and then as the big, first birthday gets ever closer, the expectations change and the pressure to stop builds and builds and builds. Suddenly all that hard work and all that dedication isn't wanted any more: it is time to wean. Now. There is some sort of invisible (to me) boundary in which nursing is about the best for both mommy and child and into a strange, slightly incestuous world in which a nursing mother is forcing her child to remain reliant upon nursing because (whispered in heavy voice) "it feels good for her."

Yet, this ignores a massive and growing amount of research supported by leading organizations around the world that clearly and repeatedly states that a nursing relationship should continue for at least 12 months (the current majority) or 2 years (the largest growing group right now). And, more importantly, to me, the expectation to wean doesn't come from the fact that the baby needs to stop or the mom needs to stop or because that's how nature needs it to be. But because you, or they, are not comfortable with my baby nursing when he can eat other food, crawl, walk, or (god forbid!) talk.

Notice that the verbs are different: you, or they, want us to stop; nothing needs us to do so. I'm happy. PJ is happy. So, frankly and with love in my words: please respect that I am doing the best for my child. If you don't agree, I grant you full permission to complain about it to someone else that will never tell me about it. And we will all win.

But vent aside, the nature of our nursing relationship is changing. Now that I am working and PJ is snacking more, our nursing sessions are slowly reducing during the day. Thankfully we are able to gently reduce and the Mr. is supportive of helping us through the transition. For example, this past week I was in a full-day workshop from Wednesday to Friday that cut out our late morning session. To help ease the transition, the Mr. brought little man to the workshop at lunch time for the afternoon nursing session. That's support. Additionally, when we are out-and-about PJ is offered a snack before nursing and many times that's enough. But when its not, its not and we nurse.

Although many people with no experience in being a working and nursing mother have told me that continuing our nursing will be "impossible" - I know that it is possible: I have found role models in strong, confident, professional women who even travel and still nurse their children far past the one year mark. To them I look and to them I am thankful.

To those readers that asked for an update: Thank you. I hope I met your expectations. In the end, my key message for you is: if you want to breastfeed your baby, it will most likely start out really tough. Growth spurts will be tough. But stick it out. Ask for help from people who have not only breastfed but support your hopes (whatever they are). It gets better; actually it gets great. Natural. Easy. Real.

For everyone else: thanks for reading.

Happy mommy and happy baby


Oh, and I still fucking hate that damn pump. I doubt that will ever get better.

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