While pregnant or even before, every woman inevitably thinks about the topic of breastfeeding. Will I breastfeed my baby? For how long? I think most women have the best intentions and try to breastfeed and then stop after different periods of time – they might breastfeed a week, they make it through the rough first few weeks and go on to nurse for a few months or a year, and then there are the extended breastfeeding moms like me.
Breastfeeding was one of the things I most looked forward to when I was pregnant with Landon, yet I had no idea what it would be like or how long I would breastfeed. I never thought about that, my main concern was to learn how to do it correctly so that Landon could thrive from the best food there is for him – my breast milk, custom made for him every day according to his nutritional needs. And here we are, almost three years later: I have become a dedicated breastfeeding advocate and member of the La Leche League, I blog about breastfeeding, and Landon still nurses many times a day.
My mom didn’t breastfeed me, so she could not help me with advice. While pregnant, I did a lot of research, and after I found out that breastfeeding often isn’t easy for new moms, I looked for support from other women. I was lucky, I found the Pump Station in Los Angles. Not only does this store sell everything you need when breastfeeding, they offer great classes to expecting and new moms where you can just walk in and vent when things are not going well with breastfeeding. Corky Harvey (MS, RN, IBCLC), one of the owners, was the one who finally showed me how to latch on lazy little Landon after two weeks of excruciating pain. All the other women in class kept telling me that it should not hurt, and they were right – if done correctly, breastfeeding does not hurt.
I believe your breastfeeding success has everything to do with the support you are getting as a new mom. If you don’t have support, you will most likely not breastfeed for that long – if you have great support and someone encouraging you to continue, you most likely will. That is my personal experience after having talked to many new moms, and that is one big reason why I am blogging about breastfeeding – I am passionate about being there for other women with advice and support when they are struggling with or have questions about breastfeeding.
If I had not found the great camaraderie among the Pump Station class moms and instructors, who knows how long I would have hung in there? I happen to be stubborn – my friend Joel calls me “Tenacious D” – and knowing me I would have continued even with a poor latch for quite some time because I wanted to breastfeed so badly, but other moms might stop for a variety of reasons: self-doubt, the believe that formula feeding is more convenient, because the doctor is telling them that their baby is not gaining enough weight, or because of pain they are experiencing. It is hard to get past those issues when you are a new mom – you are already so vulnerable because you just had a baby and there are a million things to think and worry about, and if breastfeeding is not a success, it is easy to give up if you don’t have someone who is your cheerleader you can lean on for advice and support.
This made me wonder, what about the women who never even try to breastfeed, who choose not to breastfeed despite the knowledge that formula cannot compare to breast milk? Do they think it would be strange to have their baby suck on their breasts, are they shy about possibly exposing their breasts, is their partner or a friend (or even their doctor!) discouraging them, or do they believe bottle feeding is more convenient? (This is an argument I don’t quite follow — how is having to make bottles more convenient than having milk with the perfect temperature and nutritional value ready at a moment’s notice?)
What do you think, are mothers who make the choice never to breastfeed their babies selfish? Are they misinformed? Are they mostly very young moms? What about the fact that breastfeeding is so much cheaper? Taking into consideration all the information we have nowadays about the benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother, I would love to hear the thoughts from moms who breastfeed and moms who never have. I am not here to judge your choice; I just want to understand the reasoning behind your choice so I can be a better breastfeeding advocate. Thank you so much for your participation!