Friday, April 3, 2009

Soapbox- On Breastfeeding and why I'm NOT a militant Lactivist. But then kind of am.

If it's possible for a La Leche League meeting to get raucous, last night's was. All kinds of keeeeerazy lactating women and offspring laughing hysterically after one woman told a story about how their male OB/GYN was totally fine delivering a baby out of her hoo-hah, but got all embarrassed and uncomfortable when he walked in on the new momma and baby pair learning to breastfeed. "I mean," she said, "he'd just spent hours being face to face with my vagin@!" Cackling laughter ensued and we're really lucky that it didn't go downhill from that. Much.

So I may have mentioned that I have decided to work towards accreditation as a LLL leader. I should also mention that I am NOT a militant-lactivist-crazy -WHATEVER preconceived notion people may or may not have about LLL members (granted, sometimes these impressions are sadly deserved.) Rather, I simply come from a place where breastfeeding my kid is one of the coolest things I have ever done. And I'm really proud of my accomplishment of nursing him and working full time. And I want to help other Mommas do the same if they are so inclined. And I find this shit interesting.

Granted, I do believe that if more women (especially in my part of the country) really took the time to do the research and talk to people like myself, they might incline towards breastfeeding more. There seems to be a general assumption (among the women I know) that breastfeeding is 1)difficult 2) inconvenient and 3) even distasteful, somehow.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I just want to share my own experience in that breastfeeding was a challenge in the beginning. I won't deny that. There was a definite learning curve for both me and the kiddo. We were both new at this! But as the days turned into weeks and we got to know each other, something happened. It got easy. Real easy. Ridiculously easy. And convenient.

Picture this: your -let's say- 4 month old is hungry. Wailing and flailing and threatening-to-spontaneously-combust hungry. You can either :

a) put said kid down, walk to kitchen, get bottle out of cupboard, mix formula and water in bottle, shake, pick kid back up and stick bottle in his mouth


b) lift up your shirt.


And this 'lift up your shirt' thing works (practically) ANYWHERE. ANYTIME. The milk is always there. The perfect temperature. It costs NO MONEY. Get my drift?

I will grant you, however, that working full-time and breastfeeding is a whole different animal. Pumping kind of sucks. But, for me personally, it was a commitment I was willing to make because I really wanted my baby to have breast milk. And, honestly? After a while I kind of looked forward to my pumping sessions. I'd download a podcast and have 15 minutes to myself twice a day. I can think of worse things. And once it all became routine, it was just that...our routine. We got used to it. And the last time I pumped at work it was actually a little bittersweet. Those moments had turned into not only a break for me, but a way of feeling connected to my baby - I was doing something for him that NO ONE ELSE could do. And even though we didn't get to be together during the day, I was still taking care of him by making sure he had the best possible food to eat.

The distasteful argument is harder to combat, of course. Our culture is a little effed up when it comes to the sexualization of women and the function that those fun bags were actually designed for. The only way to rebut this argument, other than working to make breastfeeding a more publicly acceptable activity, I think is to cite the benefits of nursing to both baby and momma, pass the woman a hooter-hider and hope for the best.

I, of course realize that there are instances where breastfeeding is not possible for whatever reason. And I respect that. I am not at all about making mommas feel guilty. There is already WAY TOO MUCH in parenting that will make you feel guilty. Formula is not the devil. I'm just interested in being there for people that want to breastfeed as much as I did but need a little extra support. LLL has been an awesome source of support for me and I want to give some of that back to others.

But then, I read an article like this: and wonder if those militant lactivists have a place out there too.


buffy said...

I applaud you and this post and I think it's great for you to want to help educate and encourage women where breast feeding is concerned. Probably the most important piece of info that I've ever read is that if you want your kid to breastfeed, the kid shouldn't have ANYTHING in their mouth for the first six weeks besides your boob- no pacifiers, no bottles, no teething toys, nothing.

I wanted SO BADLY to breastfeed Reed. That first night in the hospital after he was born he was up half the night crying and we kept trying to breastfeed, and he just kept crying. Unfortunately my milk hadn't come in yet so it was really frustrating for both of us. Around 2 am the nurse came in and said, "You need some rest, honey. Let me take him to the nursery and give him a bottle and you sleep for a while." My exhaustion made me into a dumbass and I said okay.

I'm pretty sure that their giving him bottles in the nursery in the hospital and the fact that my milk didn't come in until a couple of weeks after Reed was born were the things that led me to give up on breastfeeding. It got to the point once we were home where I could hear his stomach growling, and I was like, "Okay, make him a bottle."

Anyway, too much information, sorry about that, but I think what you're doing is great.

Birdie said...

Aw, Buffy! I'm so sorry! What happened to you guys could have happened to me or anyone else so easily! I think you really have a point that nipple confusion can sabatoge breastfeeding. My milk didn't come in for several days after Otto was born and I was just lucky enough to have a great midwife who made sure that he got nothin' but me- even when the hot-to-trot pediatricians were all "Supplement!!!" Once my milk was in, we were off to the races, but it helped that Otto nursed early and OFTEN with no artificial nipples at anytime.
Sorry you weren't able to breastfeed but from what I know about you, you seem like a FANTASTIC mother and Reed is a VERY lucky little dude.