As a mom who has breastfed three kids–and a mom who is currently breastfeeding baby number four–breastfeeding is as normal to me as having babies. Sadly, everyone around me doesn’t always see it this way. Let me tell you my journey.
The First Time Breastfeeding- Piece of Cake
When I had my first baby at 21, I breastfed for two primary reasons: because my mom did, and because it was FREE (Have you seen the price of formula? Sheesh! I’m in the wrong business)! My daughter’s Dad wasn’t super involved in the day-to-day affairs and intricacies of feeding babies, so I didn’t have to deal with any outside influences. It was all about what I wanted to do.
Admittedly, I’m a borderline nudist; and so since I didn’t care if anybody saw my boob or bra, nursing in public was done by me as well. The most freaked out thing that happened was when the lactation consultant in the hospital grabbed my boob to show me how to do it! Now, while that was interesting (to say the least), when I saw how easy it made her explanation, I was all in.
The Second Time Breastfeeding- The Nightmares I Still Have
Things got interesting with the next child. This time, I was married–and NO ONE in his family had breastfed. They couldn’t understand why I was doing it–while I didn’t understand why a family with so many kids didn’t have any breastfeeders!! That said, I didn’t try to educate them or really discuss breastfeeding; I was young and defensive, and I honestly didn’t really care what they thought. I did let them convince me not to take my son on my honeymoon when he was 4 months old. I regret that decision every day of my life.
Why, you ask? Well, since they weren’t into breastfeeding–and thought formula was better–they literally let my breast milk sit during the whole week that I was gone, choosing to instead feed him formula at every feeding. I am sure you can imagine how pissed I was!!!! Lucky for me, I had a supportive grandmother. She started watching him while I worked, and she would even bring him to my job for every feeding so I could get him back on the boob. I successfully re-latched him, and we nursed for 11 months total!
Third Time’s the Charm when it comes to Breastfeeding
When I had baby number three, I was a single mom again–so I could once again do whatever I wanted. This time I was breastfeeding for more than just the cost; the nutritional benefits to the baby had become just as important. I began to do more research on breastfeeding, and I discussed it in depth with other mothers on and off of social media. I nursed baby number three for 15 months; and I probably would have kept going if he hadn’t been so aggressive! He literally would pull my shirt down, anywhere and everywhere, in order to nurse. I felt like he thought he was trying to run the show–which meant I had to show him who the real boss was.
Oops I Did It Again! Now I have to Breastfeed Again
Finally, I got married again (for all the right reasons- whole ‘nother story). We didn’t discuss things like nursing and babies while we were dating; I mean, that wasn’t part of the plan. Well, imagine not doing your planning because you think you’re done, and then BOOM!!! Here comes baby number FOUR!! I had learned, my past relationships had taught me well. Early in this pregnancy, I began to ask him questions; discussing with my husband his views and opinions on how we would raise this baby (bit of unsolicited advice–I strongly suggest that you do this before you get married. Hindsight is always 20-20, right?).
Well, I learned he wasn’t against breastfeeding; but he had never experienced someone who exclusively breastfed. Through constant discussion, I learned that he also had a STRONG aversion to me nursing in public and believed I should just pump and bottle feed when we had to go out. I, on the other hand, being a home based entrepreneur, do not want to pump unless I have to–and we already discussed my inclinations toward public nudity regarding breast feeding. So, we compromised. I use a nursing cover and the double shirt method (fun fact: I’m actually ok with this. While I don’t care about my boobs being seen, my post-war pregnancy tummy bulge is a whole ‘nother story). I’m pleased to report that six months into our journey, he is fully on team #LiquidGold. He actually decided he needs to switch doctors, because his gave me a funny face about nursing in the room in front of her.
Advice for When You Are Breastfeeding Amongst Non-Breastfeeders
Alright, lemme close with a few other tidbits. The best advice that think I can give to anyone having a baby? Like I said a few paragraphs ago, talk with your significant other–in great detail and before the baby comes–about any and all ways of parenting, including breastfeeding. Do the research together, so that you both feel vested in whatever decision you make. If you decide to breastfeed, and you have a partner or family who has never really experienced it, be prepared for some resistance to the concept. Have your stats and research ready. Be prepared to tell them that it’s your body, your child, and your decision (I wouldn’t use that one on your spouse, though, unless there’s absolutely no hope for compromise).
Be patient with them, though. Try to remember: this whole breastfeeding thing is as foreign to them as formula was to our great great grandparents. Give ’em some time. With a lot of patience (and a thin skin, probably) some of them will indeed jump on #TeamBreastfeed. If not, meh. Just smile and keep it moving. I also believe a support group, whether physical or virtual, is necessary; there will be hiccups along the way, and you need advice and support from like-minded and like-lived people folks. Happy feeding!
Do you have any questions, tips or thoughts about breastfeeding in a world of non-breast feeders? I’d love to hear them so drop them below in the comments…