Monday, August 23, 2010

breastfeeding - my side of the story

in honor of national breastfeeding awareness month...
it's no surprise to most people here that i breastfeed. i usually mention something about it every now and then, and thankfully, i have always gotten positive feedback in the comments.

i never planned to breastfeed. i knew that colostrum was good for the baby, so i always said that i would breastfeed for a week or 2 at the most, just so the baby could get the colostrum. the closer the time came, the more ben and i talked about it, and it was something that he really wanted me to do. he had somehow been educated on the benefits of breastfeeding (health class, maybe? or his sisters?), and i unfortunately had not.  my mom didn't plan on breastfeeding, but strangely, her milk never came in.  she couldn't have even if she had wanted to.  i had a few cousins that did it, but i wasn't around them enough to know anything about it.  only 48.3% of women in the state of mississippi breastfeed at all.  the only thing i knew was that in guatemala, all of the women breastfed wherever and whenever they wanted, so it was a sight that i was used to seeing.  exactly like the cover of this magazine...
anyway, my time came, and it was a slow start, but we survived.  after getting home from the hospital and doing a lot of research on my own, i decided to breastfeed for the first year, if i was able to.  i had no idea that breast milk was formulated for your individual child.  for example, if you have a preemie, your breast milk will contain even more nutrients that your preemie needs to grow to full term.  i didn't know that your milk is different at the beginning of the feeding, and at the end.  i didn't know that a special part of the milk lines the intestines of the baby.  i didn't know that it reduces my risk of having breast cancer.  i didn't know that it's proven that breastfed children have higher i.q. scores and a less chance of having add or adhd.  so many things that i didn't know.

here i am, 11 months later, and i have learned a lot.  i'm in the very small 8.7% of women in mississippi that breastfeed to 12 months.  the hardest part of breastfeeding for me personally was having to always wear breastfeeding friendly clothes.  unless you invest in clothes especially for nursing, it can be a little challenge, especially in public.  nursing in public hasn't really bothered me.  i honestly haven't done it a lot, but i never had a bad experience while doing it. 

that brings me to the next topic... discrimination against breastfeeding mothers.  it's a known fact that breasts in the united states are seen as sexual objects rather than what they were made to be... food for a baby.  i never knew people could be so cruel to women that choose to breastfeed in public.  i mean, i'm modest, but you know, some women just aren't!  that doesn't mean that their baby can't eat, too.  and, some babies just refuse to have a blanket or something draped over them to nurse.  if i try to do that now, austin pulls it right off and screams.  it really bothers me that we are expected to nurse at home, in our car, in a bathroom... anywhere that would make everyone else comfortable.  i have had some friends asked to leave restaurants, stores, and had some very ugly things said to them.  so next time you see a mom breastfeeding, please offer her a few words of encouragement.

i'm a stay-at-home mom, so i never had to deal with pumping at work.  i know that breastfeeding is a personal decision, and i try really hard not to judge other moms, but it bothers me when women say that they couldn't breastfeed because they had a job.  i know it's hard.  it takes a whole lot of love, determination, and sacrifice, but those words are really what breastfeeding is all about.  so, if you are an expectant mom, please don't rule out breastfeeding just because you will be returning to work.  check into having a room that you can express milk by pumping, invest in a good quality pump, and go for it!  i promise you, it is the ultimate mommy and baby bonding experience, even if you are at work 8 hours a day.

i really don't appreciate it when people tell me to my face that breastfeeding is disgusting, and go on and on about it.  i take it as a personal attack, even though most times i probably shouldn't.  it usually means that that person is very uneducated in the subject, and if they have a baby, obviously making sure their baby has the best of everything isn't high on their agenda.  it's rude, and it's your personal opinion.  you what they say about opinions... they are like butt holes... everyone has them, and most of them stink, so why don't you keep it to yourself?  if you can't encourage me in my journey of breastfeeding, then keep your mouth shut.  comprende? 

my greatest support has been my husband, my mom, groups online, and believe it or not, twitter!  if you are in need of some support, please contact me, and i will get you the hook up!

last but not least, check out this video.  it's a cute and fun way to promote breastfeeding, and to tell about it's benefits.



Jaclyn said...

Great Post, Ashia! I have a completely different perspective on breastfeeding because I live in an area where the majority of my peers DO breastfeed and do it for quite awhile. As a mom who never ever thought I wouldn't breastfeed, it was devastating to me that I couldn't. I am surrounded by nursing mothers at every playgroup, restaurant, park, and mall. One of the reasons why so many women in my peer group breastfeed is because they can afford to. Breastfeeding is expensive...especially if you are a working mother. You need a pump, bottles, support, supplements, a good diet. Even though I only breastfed my daughter for 12 weeks, I easily spent close to 800 dollars in breastpump rental fees, on herbs and support classes. While I think that every mother should breastfeed for as long as possible, it's just not possible because of the society we live in. It's fine and dandy for these Hollywood starlets to taught their superiority because they breastfeed, but this is not the reality of 90% of American moms. Before we can adequately help moms be better breast feeders, we must provide resources for them to do so. Even living in an urban area like Los Angeles, it is a challenge to find good, affordable, breastfeeding support! Instead of giving out free formula, we need to be dispensing free breastfeeding equipment and advice.
All of this being said, I have a bone to pick with breastfeeders, much like you do with non-breastfeeders complaining about breastfeeding. If one more person comments on my giving my baby a bottle with *gasp* formula in it...I might just rip their jugular out of their throat. I've even had a mom tell me that I just didn't try hard enough to breastfeed my daughter. Hard-core nazi Breastfeeders need to realize that yes, breast is best, but formula fed babes are healthy, smart, and happy too!
If you ever need any thoughts or resources on breastfeeding, let me know! I have a lot of access to info since I am in the Pre-Natal field as an educator and Birth Doula!
May your Boobies keep up the hard work!

Veronica said...

Oh I loved the video and this post Ashia! The stats on breastfeeding in your state are astonishing. In CA things are so laid back and I've been fortunate to breastfeed in peace whereever I go. I totally agree with you about how important it is to have support. I would have never made it through without my Hubby's support. It was so hard at first but I made it through and I'm so glad I did!!!

Morgan said...

Amen! I'm gald to hear that I made it in the 8.7% :).
Love ya!