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Plenty of people want to support their breastfeeding friends and family, they simply aren’t sure how. It is surprisingly easy to support and help out a nursing mother, even if you have limited, or no, experience nursing.
First things first.
Stop offering to take the baby, babysit the baby, give the mom time to herself. I know that it comes from a good place, and all moms do need to shower and use the bathroom, but particularly in those first few months, they need, and likely want, time with their baby. I am hugely guilty of this, despite hating when people do this to me. Babies are cute! We all want to hang out and cuddle with a cute baby while mom naps, but more than likely, mom isn’t napping, she’s fretting, or cleaning, or doing something else entirely.
If you can’t babysit the baby, what can you do? All moms have things that need to get done that they will never ask other people to do – loads of laundry, vacuuming, washing floors, changing beds, wiping down bathrooms, cooking, etc. Absolutely nothing is more helpful to a new mother than actual help with what needs to get done around the house.
With my second child, my friends were amazing. They swept, vacuumed, and cooked. The best part? They didn’t even ask. They just brought food, picked up a broom or took out garbage. My mother and mother in law did laundry, picked up my daughter from school, and made meals. I was so appreciative of the help I received, because I could spend MORE time with my baby, bonding, nursing, resting, playing, and LESS time, worrying about housework, cooking, and laundry.
I returned to work at 12 months on a part time basis and then full time at 15 months. At around 11 months, I was needed in court to give testimony, something that I could not delegate to a colleague. Rather than leave my baby with her, my mother in law came with me. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be, so I nursed my son before going in, on a break, and then after. My mother in law watched my son in the car, took him to a nearby park and played with him. THAT help was invaluable, because I was able to do the work I needed to, but I had right kind of help so that I could nurse my child without having to give formula or a bottle.
Obviously, as babies age, moms will need time to themselves more and be able to take time for themselves. While they are nursing, it is so important to support moms in whatever way you can.
How do YOU support breastfeeding mothers?
Breast is best.
I really hate the term “breast is best”. I think that advertising breastmilk as best is the worst thing to happen to breastfeeding. The slogan may seen innocuous enough, but when it really gets disected, it becomes evident that it hurts the breastfeeding cause more than it helps.
I actually started to write this post in September, 2008, and never actually finished it. If I’m being honest, I never really started it either!
Recently, as I navigate twitter and get back into blogging, I came across the most amazing blog post that makes the point that breast is normal much better than I can.
From the article:
Guess what? There are no benefits to breastfeeding.
It’s the normal thing to happen. All that oxytocin bonding, the immunities, the perfect growth medium for human beings, the added hormone hits to combat stress and sleeplessness, the brain building chemicals, the oral-facial development… it’s all normal stuff. It’s what nature designed. Glorious, complex, mind-boggingly brilliant… and commonplace and everyday.
It’s the biological norm.
It’s what you do, to produce a perfectly wonderfully normal child. Just like Rosin’s normal kids.
If you have a gene inside your family, that reacts to environmental stress for cancer.. breastfeeding won’t stop it developing.
But more cancers will be triggered, in a cohort, if the children with the gene aren’t breastfed.
Breastfeeding won’t stop asthma, or autism, developing, in a child with a genetic, or environmental trigger for it.
But more asthma, and more autism, will be triggered, in a cohort, if the susceptible children aren’t breastfeed.
Breastfeeding won’t prevent salmonella triggering food poisoning in a newborn.
But breastmilk doesn’t contain salmonella: some formula does contain it.
Breathing fresh air doesn’t cause cancer: but breathing smoke can trigger it.
See the difference?
Health visitors speak to pregnant women with a gag on: the gag that prevents them presenting the actual scientific matter at hand. A gag that prevents them from putting formula feeding into context: that not to breastfeed, increases health risks.
No one has the courage to say it. Even the nice doctor they had on at the beginning of the slot, couldn’t say it. When asked to defend breastfeeding against attack, he talked about breastfeeding decreasing illness. Breastfeeding does not decrease illness. Lack of breastfeeding increases it.
The other side of the Breast Is Best coin is… Formula is Fine. Formula is not Fine. Formula is Flawed. Just like Rosin’s article; it lacks essential ingredients. And has a few you might not like.
There is less in formula milk, than there is in human milk. There is less physiological growth in bottle feeding, than there is in breastfeeding. Combine the two, and add in that modified cow’s milk destroys the natural flora in the new born gut.. and you have an activity that increases health risks in homo sapiens: formula feeding.
And until we start telling pregnant women up front and honestly about this – they are always going to feel pressured about Breast Is Best.
And until we give them a society where breastfeeding is upheld as a normal, everyday activity, some women are always going to feel sold short for doing it.
Until children are welcome in public spaces, attached to the breast openly and with no censure… some women are always going to feel that breastfeeding reduces their options.
Until breastfeeding is presented in the medical and academic literature as the baseline norm… that from which the intervention is measured, some women are going to stay confused. Making sense of masses of hard line research isn’t easy: results need highlighted. Whilst reports still say “Breastfeeding protects against SIDS”, and whilst women aren’t reading “Formula feeding increases the risks of SIDS”, women are still going to see breastfeeding as the ‘added on extra’.
And if the ‘added on extra’ doesn’t result in a super human uber child – just a lovely normal healthy one – some are always going to feel cheated. This is no more pertinent than in the totally back-assed way of presenting the evidence on breastfeeding and intelligence. Whereby for years, women have been told that breastfeeding make their kids smarter.
I would love to just quote the entire article, which was written in response to another piece, but I suggest that you just go and read it, because it really is so amazing and so well written and just so perfect.
Breast really isn’t best. Breast is normal. It is how it should be.
It was so easy for me to be an attached mama when my babies were… babies. They were with me almost every second until the age of one and beyond. I fed them from my breast, wore them and slept with them. I listened to their cues, followed their lead, and loved every moment. I was THAT mom, you know, the one who didn’t use an exersauser, playpen, swing, crib, etc.
I rarely had doubts about what I was doing, but there were so many nay sayers out there, wanting to let me know, in that subtle yet not so subtle way, that I was ruining my kid.
Everything that I have ever read about attachment theory and attachment parenting says that a strong attachment in infancy leads to a more secure person later on. My daughter performed the role of Gretl in the Mirvish production of the Sound of Music in Toronto for a year (I’ll save my stage mom stories for another time). She started when she was five. I remember the children’s director talking to me one day during rehearsals about my daughter. She mentioned how my daughter was a pro – listening to the directors and chaperones, picking up the songs quickly, working hard with no complaints, and offering the most insightful little comments. “What did you do?”, she asked. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you”. I wanted to stick out my tongue and say “HA”! to every single person who said “you are holding her too much”, “you shouldn’t sleep with her, she’ll never sleep alone”, “leave that kid for a few hours for some ‘me time’ or she will never be able to get away from you. Ever”. As she marched down that staircase at the Princess of Wales Theatre to Captain Von Trapp’s whistle and stamped her foot telling Maria that she was five years old, I was crying hysterically, proud beyond words that my attached little baby was proving attachement theory right. You make them feel secure at their most pivitol time and they will soar!
I get that my tale is anecdotal and that most kids won’t have that sort of once in a lifetime opportunity, but I wanted to illustrate just how important a strong attachment in infancy is and how it grows and evolves as the child grows and evolves. Attachement parenting does not equal helicopter parenting, it does not equal your kid being your best friend, and it does not equal permissive parenting.
Simply put, attachment parenting is about listening with all of your senses to your babies cues and responding to them respectfully. It doesn’t change as the kids grow older. Sure, you stop nursing at some point, you stop co-sleeping at some point, you stop carrying them around at some point – usually because your child no longer needs these things and communicates that to. When that happens, your relationships evolves and changes. Your child is secure in the knowledge that you are there, they know this instinctively, and they can spread those wings and run and explore and try and play and know that you will be there for them, the same way you were there when you nursed them, slept with them and carried them.
When I started this blog years ago, I was on maternity leave with my second child. I was nursing constantly and I had breastfeeding on the brain 24/7. Literally. During my leave, an act of breastfeeding discrimination occurred at a pool in Newmarket, Ontario and I blogged about it non stop. Until I didn’t blog at all.
My baby son turns four in October. Four! We are no longer nursing. He stopped around 2 1/2 and it was bittersweet. And I forgot all about this blog. Until now.
I may no longer be nursing but I can still blog about it. I am, after all, still a lactivist. More than anything, I am a mom so let me (re)introduce myself.
I am Jenn. I have two really amazing kids, an 8 year old daughter who loves fashion, singing rolling in the deep, dancing, and her brother, and an almost 4 year old son who loves hugs and kisses, his three girlfriends, smoothies, and his big sister. My husband is my opposite, but we work because we compliment the best in each other. I work outside the home in a great career.
The focus of my blog is shifting from just breastfeeding to parenting.
Obviously, I have taken some time off from blogging. I have some plans to revamp the site up a bit, do some housekeeping, and I am looking into getting my own domain.
I also want to keep my creative juices flowing and while the incident at the Newmarket Aquacentre certainly had a lot of interest and a lot of press, I am looking forward to focusing on other things related to breastfeeding (although I will still bring updates on the Aquacentre case as they become available).
Please bear with me as I work out kinks and work on fixing up this blog!
I have seen this in a few places and someone on one of the groups I belong to alerted the group to it. I find it very powerful! For all of the people who wonder why people fight for breastfeeding discrimination, the following poem/article says it all. I am not sure who authored it, but whoever you are, thank-you!
If a woman breastfeeds with her whole breast out of the shirt, there’s someone in the room wishing she would pull the shirt down a little more.
If she pulls her shirt down a little more, there’s someone in the room wishing she would put a blanket over her side boob, or cleavage.
If she blankets her boob, there’s someone wishing she would put the blanket over the baby’s head.
If she blankets her baby, there’s someone wishing she was in the corner.
If she moves to the corner, there’s someone wishing she would face the wall.
If she faces the wall, there’s someone wishing she would leave the room.
Can’t please ’em all, so do what feels right to YOU, I say. But regardless of how you do it, keep nursing, ladies.
I am a fan of a really great blog called phdinparenting. This month, she is blogging everyday and has asked for reader feed back. I have really enjoyed her recent post on Friendship and Parenting Styles.
This is something that I struggle with. Most of my friends parent differently than I do, but I see a great sense of love and respect for their children. I think we are similar in some areas and different in others, but in the areas that matter, we are generally in sync. Although I know a few people who have used CIO, they know I disagree, and I think for most, it was generally a “last resort”. I luckily do not know any spankers.
The difficult thing for me are random people in my day to day life. People who feel that they can make comments on my children such “you are ruining him” when I told a mother at a birthday party (who I had just met) that I hold my (then) 2 month old son most of the time. Ruining him.
And then of course there are the people who have now started on the “time to get that kid to wean” train. I never tell people “time to stop with the bottle” so it always makes me wonder why people feel it’s ok to tell people to stop nursing.
I find it difficult to find fully like-minded parents in today’s society. I was at a parenting group and one new mother told the group how her husband was more firm than her with letting the baby cry so it wouldn’t manipulate them. The baby was three weeks old. I do not think that this mother was in any way attempting to do her child harm – at all – I think that society has us trained to believe that babies are manipulative and need to trained. That’s unfortunate.