Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about breastfeeding. Should every mom feel compelled to nurse? How long is long enough? How long is too long? Should you nurse in public or be confined to the ladies’ room lounge?
I am a HUGE proponent of breast-feeding. I nursed all four of mine, two of them for three full years, and I have tandem nursed (the term for nursing both your toddler and your newborn). Every mom’s choice should be respected, and no mom should be shamed for her choice to, or not to, breast-feed.
That said, I think that because breasts are so sexualized in American culture, and breastfeeding is frequently misunderstood, that we inadvertently set up roadblocks to successful nursing. This happens both in the workplace and in extended families. I remember when I was pregnant with my first, my boss told me that I would not be “allowed” to nurse my baby since I would have to be back on the job full time at six weeks. While this would not fly today, 20+ years ago, this type of mom-bullying was the norm. I chose to nurse my baby and leave my job. Another time, I was out to dinner with my family and my newborn, who was hungry, and I was told that I could not nurse her in the restaurant because, after all, “we have to show our faces in here again.” Apparently, a healthy baby doing what babies do to stay alive was an affront to their sensibilities. Because I couldn’t quit my family like I quit my job, I spent the meal sitting in the car alone, nursing my daughter. I did get payback about two years later when, as a toddler, she was still nursing, and, at the same restaurant, she spilled a soda all over herself and had to be stripped down to her onesie. Of course, after that, she wanted to nurse, and by this time, I was bold enough NOT to be intimidated, and I nursed my toddler at the table with my extended family. In front of everybody. And didn’t give a hoot who objected.
In many ways, things have gotten better over the years for nursing moms, but we still have a long way to go! Moms should be ENCOURAGED to breast-feed but not be bullied into it. Every mom should have an opportunity to have a go at it if they choose and be fully supported in their choice, whether they are stay-at-home moms or working moms.
Here are my top tips to help moms succeed at breastfeeding:
I LOVED nursing my babies. I have no regrets about persisting even when it was hard and sticking up for my choice even when it was unpopular. All moms deserve respect for whatever choice they make about nourishing and nurturing their babies. With proper support, hopefully more and more moms will be able to breastfeed successfully!
My passion is to help moms yell less, enjoy motherhood more, and nurture kids who listen and behave better the first time. Curious about your parenting style? Take my free parenting style survey here.