**This was reposted from my first, original blog. I wanted to move everything over so I have it all in one spot.**
Inspired by a really random, very strange, unwelcomed conversation I had at Carson’s Thursday while I was nursing Callie, I decided to write about feeding babies.
As I sat down in the chair, clearly preparing to nurse my rooting baby, the conversation goes like this:
Lady: You obviously nurse her.
Me: Yep, I sure do!
Lady: Well that’s good. I am so mad at my daughter. She didn’t want to nurse her baby. She just pumped and put it in the bottle.
Lady: And now, now she shakes up a bottle of that Similac and shoves it in his mouth.
Me: Well, that’s ok.
Lady: OK?! That ain’t ok! Everyone knows that breastmilk is better. That’s probably why your baby is so big for 4 months. It’s ’cause that breastmilk is good.
Then Ella and Katie came to sit with me and saved the day! Did I mention that Callie is somewhere around the 15th percentile for height and weight?!
There are lots of ways to feed a baby: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, formula feeding, syringe feeding, tube feeding…am I missing any? My point is, is that all babies have different needs. All caretakers have different resources, challenges, lifestyles, preferences, comfort levels. And, as long as the baby is being fed, then who are we to judge or harass the people who are doing differently from us?
If you personally know me, you know that I nursed Ella for 15 months, and I plan on doing the same with Callie. I never had any nursing challenges beyond the normal first couple weeks of tender nipples. I haven’t had to go back to work after having only 6 weeks with my newborn to establish my supply. If my sitations would have been different; if I had to start pumping at work at only 6 weeks, if either of the girls had latch problems, or if I was constantly getting clogged ducts, maybe I wouldn’t have been as successful at nursing.
Most of my friends and family formula fed their babies. Some of them started out nursing but it became too painful. Some of them started out nursing, made it through the pain, but their supply tanked when they went back to work. A couple of them had no intentions of breastfeeding, ever! And, you know what?! It really wasn’t any of my business. I’m going to guess that most moms understand that “breast is best.” They are probably aware there are benefits of breastmilk that formula cannot offer. It’s not my place to tell them. However, I also realize that generally there is more to it than knowing that information. They make a decision based on what works for them. The only time I would ever feel the need to say something to a mom about feeding, is if I notice they are no longer feeding their child. Until that time comes, it’s of no concern of mine whether or not they feed their babies the same way I do.
It irritates me when people see you have a fairly new baby and they immediately ask if you are nursing. Why do they think that it’s their right to know? Why does it matter? You will find just as many people to judge you for breastfeeding as you will for formula feeding. Plus, you don’t know the circumstances of the birth or the first couple days and weeks of that babies life.
Have you ever thought about these possibilities? Maybe that newborn has just been adopted straight from the hospital due to some unfortunate circumstance with its birth mother. Maybe the mom would love to breastfeed but has some type of medical issue or medical past that is preventing her from doing so. Maybe she’s a single mom, working 60 hours a week on 20 hours of sleep a week, just 2 weeks after her baby was born. Maybe she gave it everything she has and it just didn’t work out for one reason or another.
I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding and I will work with any of my friends who ask me to help them through the struggles. I had my own personal “nursing friend” to guide me and encourage me through the challenges and each stage of infancy when I first started nursing Ella. I will tell you that it’s an amazing experience to be able to provide for that new baby 100% by yourself. I will tell you that boob snuggles are the best ever. I will tell you that the rooting face and big eyes when the baby sees you lifting your shirt and unhooking your bra is one of my favorite faces. I will also tell you that it’s hard work in the beginning. I will tell you that it’s painful, but so rewarding. I will also be honest with you about pumping, because it sucks! It’s so much work and so stressful to make sure you are pumping enough to provide for your baby the next day while you’re at work. But overall, I will never make you feel guilty if it doesn’t work out or if you decide from the beginning that it’s not for you. I will never put you down. You don’t have to start worrying about that until you stop feeding your child altogether 😉
At the same time, we have to be supportive of our breastfeeding mommies who understand that their number one job is to provide food and shelter for their baby. Good breastfeeding moms understand that babies, especially newborns, must be fed on demand in order to establish a good supply and nursing relationship between mommy and baby. This means that even if you nurse the baby right before you go out to dinner, the baby may want to nurse again within the time period it takes to get a seat in a restaurant and finish a meal. With that being said, yes, you may see nursing moms at the dinner table. Why shouldn’t they be able to do that?
I’ve read so many ignorant comments on the Facebook articles that just got me so worked up. People who compare breastfeeding to sex are strange and messed up in the head. People who are saying that they “don’t want to have a discussion about boobs with their 3 year old at the dinner table,” should set their priorities straight. People who say that they are “offended” and that breastfeeding mothers should do that “in the privacy of their own home” should not go anywhere in public. Look around people! You, and your children, will see offensive things everywhere you go. If you are the one uncomfortable and wanting to provide a sheltered life for yourself and your children, then you try not leaving your house. If you are worried about discussing boobs with your 3 year old at the dinner table in the middle of TGI Fridays, then redirect when they start asking questions. Better yet, be totally honest with them. “Yes, that baby is drinking milk from her mommy’s breast. Some babies eat that way” would be a very acceptable answer to a curious child. Why be all weird and instantly think this means you have to have a sex talk with your preschooler?
I will feed my baby anywhere: the funeral home, a curb in the middle of a street fair, at the dinner table of a fancy restaurant, or in the middle of the store. No one is going to tell me that my baby has to cry and starve because they are uncomfortable. Usually I use a cover, but that’s because that’s my own preference. I don’t expect everyone to use a cover, and I’ve recently nursed a few times without it because it’s so much easier. With that being said, there is still a respectful, tactful way to do this. Same with posting pictures of your nursing baby. I will be the first to admit that I’ve taken pictures of both girls nursing, but they are for me. They aren’t for all of Facebook to see. Sometimes I can capture the moment without exposing any part of my breast. For instance, I recently posted this photo on my Facebook and I’m sure no one knew that I was nursing at that moment.
All of this is to say that we need to respect each other. There is no reason to make anyone feel bad or wrong. There are times that Callie is on a nursing marathon and I think how much more convenient it would be to make bottles and schedule her feedings. Then, in the middle of the night when she wants to eat, I think about how awesome it is that I just have to raise my shirt and not get up to make a bottle. Walking down the baby food aisle and seeing the price of formula is another time I feel fortunate for being able to nurse.
I understand that I do things differently than this mom and that mom. I have learned through trial and error what works for me and my girls. Heck, I thought I figured it all out with Ella, but Callie is such a different baby and is continuing to teach Chad and me that we don’t have it all figured out. If we, as moms, all worked together instead of against each other, our kids’ generation might grow up to be in a better place. The mom guilt is bad enough without having all these mom wars going on between the moms who should be sticking together. Afterall, we are all raising the future; the people who will be running the country when we no longer can. Think about that for a minute…
Until next time…
“Never judge someone without knowing the whole story. You may think you understand, but you don’t.”