I am now remembering a time when Nolan was a few months old, I was nursing him in the ladies lounge at the YMCA. Being in a private ladies-only area, I did not cover up. Most of the older ladies didn't mind and smiled sweetly. They were my grandmother's age, and I wondered how many of them nursed their own children, or maybe wished that they had. Then a mom with her young daughter, about 5 years old, came along. The little girl just stared at me and boldly asked, "Whatcha doin'?" I giggled, glanced at her mom, and said, "I'm feeding my baby. He's hungry". You would have though I told her that aliens were landing on the Earth. "Your feeding him? From your boob?" (I told you this kid was bold!) I just told her yes, as her mom apologized and quickly walked her to another area of the locker room. I don't know what her mom's explanation was on this subject, but I hope by the time this little girl grows up and decides to have children of her own, she will educate herself on the benefits of breastfeeding.
|Nolan at 2 months|
"The newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of his mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three." - Grantly Dick-Reed, MD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. And, anthropologists would argue that breastfeeding should continue until 2-7 years. However, according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), only 14% of babies are exclusively breastfed until they are 6 months old. http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/. And why is that? If a young girl or boy is never shown or exposed to breastfeeding, how are they to learn that breastfeeding is the normal and innate way to feed a baby? If a mother covers up all the time while feeding, older children might view breastfeeding as secretive or something to be embarrassed about. If a mother expresses that bottle-feeding and/or formula-feeding is the "best/easiest/normal" way to feed a baby, then that is what her children will learn and they in turn will view breastfeeding as "difficult/insufficient/time-consuming/painful" and may never even try. If a mother (or father) only views breasts as sexual, how will a child ever learn their real purpose?
Above, I put bottle-feeding (breastmilk) and formula-feeding together for a reason. Although breastmilk is far superior to formula, the act of breastfeeding is far superior to bottle-feeding (breastmilk or formula). Dr. Jack Newman, MD explains this in his book, The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers as: "We often assume that if breastfeeding is not possible - a rare situation - formula is the second-best solution for feeding the baby. The World Health Organization (WHO), though, makes it very clear that infant formulas are not second best to breastfeeding. Second best would be the mother's own milk, pumped or expressed, and fed to her baby (perhaps with a cup or tube). This is only second best because the value of breastfeeding includes such benefits as the development of the baby's jaw and facial muscles as he nurses at the breast, and the transfer of germs back and forth between the mother and the baby, which helps protect the baby against infection and allergies, is more likely to occur when the mother and baby are together, touching, skin to skin and mouth to breast. Expressed milk won't provide those important factors, but is the next best thing to breastfeeding. If pumping or expressing is impossible, the third feeding suggestion on WHO's list is donated milk from a breastmilk bank. Only if that is also not available would artificial baby-milk feedings be used - the fourth-best solution." (I would also like to add that there are ways to make your own formula at home so that the ingredients are safe, organic and real. In my opinion, this would be the 4th option, and commercially-produced formula 5th).
Even at 2 years old, Nolan is very aware of what breastfeeding is and looks like. He observes other mothers nursing at our La Leche League meetings. In fact, just a few days ago, he held his baby doll up to his chest and "nursed" it, and then gave to me to give it a "ba-ba". To him this is the normal and only way to feed a baby. And, I know that one day he will encourage his wife to breastfeed their children.
A passage in La Leche League's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding shares that, "Breastfed boys and girls often nurse their dolls, stuffed animals, and toys. Assuming they don't go for their navels, which are easier for them to find, you may be surprised at their ease and accuracy. They learned this from you, and they learned it early. Imagine how much easier breastfeeding will be for them, compared to what it was like for you and your friends. What a short learning curve your daughter will have! And your son will understand how and why to help his partner. By nursing your child for a normal length of time, you're mending the breastfeeding chain that was broken in the twentieth century."
And, as for the baby dolls...if I do have a girl next time around, I will have to look for a doll with-OUT a bottle (or remove it at least!), because MY daughter will know "breast is best" and will WANT to wear, co-sleep and breastfed her dolly because that is what mommy does and that is what feels right!
"While Breastfeeding may not be the right choice for every parent, it is the BEST choice for every baby."