I don't know how it is in other countries and cultures, but breastfeeding brings out a lot of emotions in this country, mainly of discomfort. The idea that breasts, the symbol of female sexuality, should provide the ultimate nourishment to babies, the symbol of innocence, just seems, so, well, unnatural. Before I had children, I thought I was OK with nursing babies, but the idea of a toddler nursing was, if not obscene, at least weird — a kid being able to ask to nurse! I vowed to be discreet, not to make anyone else uncomfortable. I still remember my cousin feeding her baby during a wedding reception when I was a kid. While she was talking to my father! I wouldn't do that in front of any of my uncles.
This is Offbeat Families's archive of breastfeeding posts.
Her kids have always slept through the night, and even if they don't, she still manages to look like she has had eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. There is always a well-balanced, home-cooked meal on her dinner table. She either happily stays at home or holds down a fulfilling job while still finding time to join the PTA, run the school's book sale, and makes it to every single soccer game. She is usually white, middle to upper class, heterosexual, and neither too young nor too old. But above all… she's a myth. And it's this myth that divides women and pits mothers against each other while fueling the flames of the manufactured "mommy wars."
In my cancer story, the diagnosis and treatment was a huge, out-of-nowhere inconvenience in an otherwise fabulous life that I believed I had the right to see fulfilled. And I didn't need to breastfeed my son to fill him with all the potential of a healthy young man. Except in MY mothering story, I had to do everything possible to nurse him, simply because I wanted to, I was driven to. I believed it was my right.
Before I had my baby, I had a lot of plans and expectations based around an unmedicated birth and high hopes for a water birth. This didn't seem unfeasible as the pregnancy had been entirely uncomplicated. I hadn't bought a pram, preferring a Kari Me sling. I was planning to wear the baby all the time, breastfeed all the time (after all it's free and if you're on limited finances that's pretty important) and was overall looking forward to it.
During my pregnancy my craving was ice cream. But during my last trimester I was advised to stop eating sugar. When I gave birth, I was so excited to be able to eat ice cream again and make up for all those cravings I hadn't been able to satisfy. I knew that because I was nursing, that I'd have to eat healthy, but at least some sugar could return to my diet. But when my baby was about three months old, I was put on another new strict diet, this time for dairy, and my dreams of eating ice cream throughout the spring and summer months were squashed again.
I share my story because I don't want other new parents to go through what I went through. My advice is simply to trust yourself and trust your child. You know what's best for your family and your child knows what they need. Babies are born with personalities and preferences that can't be accounted for in a one-size-fits-all parenting philosophy. Children are more resilient than we think. If Plan A doesn't work, keep trying until something does.
I feed my daughter a mix of my breast milk, formula and donated breast milk from five different women. Not only has donated breast milk benefited my daughter's digestion and overall health, it has introduced me to other moms that I'm now proud to consider part of my community.
My baby was seven weeks old when he was hospitalized for the first time, and he was either not nursing, or not nursing well for two-to-three weeks. There were many times when he wasn't allowed oral nutrition at all, and I pumped. The third time he was hospitalized, however, was really difficult.