I thought (still think), to be educated on breastfeeding, the issues; (and what a momma can do to keep their babe to the boob). Aware of the controversy, the misconceptions, the stereo-types.
It is in this community of mothers and writers and doctors and midwives and doulas and activists and supporters and haters that I have at once felt supported and second guessed myself, my decisions and what I thought I knew/know.
Learning, and gaining knowledge, is a constant path in life. On any subject. Curves abound. I can accept that as truth and admittedly struggle with feeling solid about past decisions I’ve made as I continue my learning journey. Ain’t that the way.
My wavering confidence about my decision to end breastfeeding is an example of such brain and heart-ache.
It’s all I can to but to gently share the information that I gather, that which comes across my path without pointing fingers, without aggressively shaking any one momma by the shoulders (even figuratively speaking), with my fevered belief in the benefits of breastfeeding and how I might keep them at it.
From Dr. Claire McCarthy on Boston.com…excerpt from The Top 4 Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding (& What we Can Do About Them)
Reason #1: a rough start. All those beatific pictures notwithstanding, breastfeeding can be hard work,especially at the beginning. It can take a little time for both mom and baby to get the hang of it–and throw in sore nipples and the exhaustion of just giving birth and it’s easy to understand why some moms reach for the bottle (of formula).
Solution: support! If lactation support could be made available to every mom, it would make a huge difference. A certified lactation consultant is ideal, but a relative or friend with breastfeeding experience can be great too. Breastfeeding was meant to happen in a supportive community; we need to do a better job of making that happen.
Reason #2: worry that the baby isn’t getting enough. We are a bottle culture. When we can’t see how much our baby drinks, we get anxious. Add to that the simple fact that breastfed babies eat more frequently than formula-fed ones (breast milk is more easily digested, so moves through faster) and babies like to stay at the breast because it’s the Most Wonderful Place in the World to them, and you can see why moms start thinking they aren’t giving the baby enough–and start supplementing with formula.
Solution: support (see a theme here?). And education. If babies are eating at least every 3 hours or so, wetting at least 6 diapers in 24 hours, pooping regularly, and if moms can hear and see swallowing and their breasts feel full, chances are all is fine. Weighing the baby regularly can show that the baby is getting enough. Visits from a nurse, support from a doctor, check-ins from a lactation consultant–all of these can help families as they gain experience and confidence.
Reason #3: discomfort with nursing in public. Again, we are a bottle culture–and a culture that sexualizes breasts. Even though breastfeeding is just feeding a baby, many women often feel or are made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable when they do so in a public place.
Solution: if we are truly going to raise breastfeeding rates in this country, we are going to have to get over some of these feelings and make it truly okay for women to breastfeed wherever they need to (gosh, I wish that were as simple as it sounds).
Reason #4: they need to go back to work. This is the deal-breaker for lots of moms. Working and breastfeeding can be done; I’ve done it. But finding the time and place to pump (and affording the pump in the first place), as well as transporting and storing breast milk, can be stressful. Add that to the general stress of going back to work, throw in a less-than-supportive workplace, and there goes the exclusive breastfeeding plan.
Solution: um..support. Insurance should pay for breast pumps. Education about using them should be easily available from all pediatrician’s offices, and lactation consultations should be easily and widely available as well. More employers should be willing to create spaces for women to pump, and be flexible about schedules so that they can.
I also found this article, which I believe could be helpful to many of you expectant mommas. I wish I had been as diligent in my pregnancy about gaining breastfeeding knowledge as I am now. Or when I was in the thick of it, challenge after challenge.
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