The Hope to Breastfeed
“I hope I can breastfeed with this pregnancy but I’m not sure. I think people are pretty tolerant about it nowadays, right?”
My friend recently asked me this question and for advice considering that she is pregnant with Baby Number Two. She was like almost all of my friends who could not breastfeed with her first baby for various reasons, none to do with a lack of interest or motivation to breastfeed. Not wanting to discourage her, I generally tried to be as positive about my breastfeeding experience as possible. However, I think at the time I was breastfeeding, it probably came across more like constant whining and complaining. She would see me whipping open my top at weird times, while a screaming child tried to pull my clothes off. I hope I was able to allow her to see the benefits of breastfeeding, yet be honest with her too.
People Are Less Tolerant About It Than You Think
I thought back to the many times where people stared at me while I tried to feed my child, would leave the room, or ask, “Do you really need to do that right now?” Some of the time I heard it from my own family, who I would’ve thought would be kinder about it. After a few months of breastfeeding, I’d get questions like, “When are you going to stop that?” I remember crying after I was out at a beer tasting and had a little sample cup in my hand, listening to a stranger saying, “You shouldn’t be drinking that if you are breastfeeding.”
I often consider where the misconceptions and the general mean-spiritedness connected with breastfeeding comes from. We all were created by parents at some point and I feel that we should have a certain level of familiarity with the human body because of that. We understand what the human body can do and the purpose of our body parts. They go beyond a simple function to become something that creates and nurtures life.
It’s Not About You
If I’m feeding my baby, I am not trying to bother you. It’s not about you—my baby has to eat right now and will be very loud and upset if I wait to leave the room for your convenience or if I put a cover over her on a hot day. I created this child and make sacrifices for this child such as not sleeping anymore! I work hard and feel that I deserve to make decisions about whether I want to sample a beer or not. I understand if breastfeeding wasn’t for you, but I do ask that you respect how I choose to take care of my child.
If people understood all the benefits of breastfeeding, I think they would tear down the barriers to it and raise up mothers. It would provide them the opportunity to breastfeed without having to worry about fitting it into their work schedule or worrying about what other people will think.
Many women do not know how to get started with breastfeeding and so they give up since it is really not intuitive most of the time. If women had universal breastfeeding support, mothers could nurture their child and devote their attention to bonding and providing optimal nutrition to their baby, which will provide increased positive outcomes for our future citizens. I think if we can all learn to accept each other, no matter what decision a mother makes, we would all feel supported in this parenting journey.