Q: Our dear wabisabi mother breastfed her four children during a time when almost no one else was doing it - a time when doctors encouraged mothers to use formula because it was healthier for the child and gave the mother more freedom (though doctors are supposedly "experts," this proves the wisdom in questioning those in authority and doing your own research!). Now it has become practically common knowledge (as it once was) that the breast is best.
M: I like the bonding breastfeeding promotes, but in all honesty, I would rather not be a nursing mother. Having to be the sole provider of nourishment is a lot of pressure! If I ever want to go out, I have to plan ahead to have enough milk pumped for little Olive. I worry about leaking and those stupid breastpads always show through my bras. Not to mention that leaky boobs pose a slight inconvenience when doing certain activities with my husband, if you know what I mean. And my nipples--oh, my nipples. Often very sore and chaffed.
But I know the research and I know how important it is for my baby to receive the health benefits found only in breastmilk. And so I press on...
Q: What a trooper! In addition to the mental and physical health benefits of breastfeeding, isn't it also nice to NOT have to pay for formula? I'm all for FREE stuff! But M brings up a good point because though breastfeeding is the best option for both mother and infant, it is not always the easiest thing to do, and many women never get the support they need to be successful.
D: Thank goodness for lactation consultants! I'm not sure I would have been successful with breastfeeding without one or without my very loving and supporting husband. As I look back now, I can't believe that I hesitated at all in hiring a lactation consultant to come to my home. Now we are going on our 16th month of breastfeeding!
As I look back at my breastfeeding experience, I can relate a lot to what M described but now that I am nursing after the 12 month mark, I don't feel that pressure anymore, don't need breastpads, the nipples stopped hurting loooong ago, and I feel like the bond that my daughter and I share from nursing is stronger now than in her first year of life (since it seems like it is the only time I get to cuddle her in her active pursuits of walking and learning). And it is actually an extra comfort to me in knowing that she is getting valuable nutrition when her toddler appetite (or lack of) makes me worry a little about if she is getting enough to eat.
Although some people may raise an eyebrow that you are nursing past the first year, you don't have to feel like you are the only one. I attended several La Leche League meetings and witnessed the vibrant community of nursing mothers and several meetings available both during the day, the evening, for mothers or babies under 12 months and mothers of babies older than 12 months. LLL provides excellent support and may get you over some of the humps of wanting to quit breastfeeding earlier than you might have originally planned.
M: It is so key to receive support when breastfeeding. I've never been to an LLL meeting, but I did meet with a lactation consultant about a week after Olive was born. It made all the difference! You'd think breastfeeding is easy enough--just put that babe up to your nipple and she'll start sucking away--but for many it's not so. It's actually a learned art. Thank goodness I had this lactation consultant, two nursing sisters, a mom and a supportive husband to help me along the way.
D: For me, breastfeeding just made sense - I quit my job to stay at home full time when my daughter was born, am too cheap to buy expensive formula, and had read too much about the benefits of breastfeeding to go any other route. However, for some other mothers, it may not make as much sense but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth it. Breastfeeding can definitely have its challenges and although it is one of the most natural acts in the world, it is not always easy. So we encourage all future mamas to make the choice now that you will breastfeed your baby and not to be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Get recommendations on lactation consultants in your area or contact the local La Leche League. Don't feel guilty if you don't automatically (or ever) enjoy it but at least try it and try to stick with it for as long as you can! Some breastfeeding is better than none and more is even better!