“Chita! Chita!” my daughter demands, using her nickname for milk in Spanish, Lechita. Not just any milk, though, but mother’s milk.
The topic of breastfeeding is nothing new, and there are a wide variety of resources online, at local libraries and hospitals, and in parenting magazines that help educate interested mothers. Even though breastfeeding is a natural act and has been practiced since as far back as history goes, it has somehow become taboo. Some mothers refuse to breastfeed due to the initial struggle. Furthermore, society’s reaction to a breastfeeding mother may be an even larger hurdle to overcome.
It’s not uncommon to be in a restaurant, on a plane, or in another public place when a baby begins to fuss and the mother brings her child to her chest and starts to nurse. “I can’t believe she just did that!” or “How can she do such a thing in public?” or “Keep it at home!” may be some of the comments onlookers share if they notice the breastfeeding duo. What should be a beautiful and natural experience is now tainted, leaving the mother to feel self-conscious and insecure.
Unfortunately, social pressure can cause more damage than simple insecurity. It may influence even the most confident mother. Breastfeeding can go well from the start for many mothers, but it can also involve some struggles. The first struggle may be latching on. For a while, my daughter was having trouble latching on, but I didn’t give up! I got help from a lactation consultant and did plenty of research. I don’t think this would have been as much of a struggle if my own friends and family with breastfed children had been able to mentor or guide me.
Often, new mothers worry whether they are producing a sufficient amount of milk. Society encourages you to use formula if you’re unsure of whether you are producing enough milk. You must give your child a certain amount of milk at a certain time of the day, right? This was a big one for me, as I felt she wasn’t getting enough because she always seemed hungry. I wish I had realized then that breast milk is easily digested, and babies may be hungry again not too long after nursing. If your baby is having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, rest assured that your milk supply is sufficient. After all, nature knows best and your body will produce all your child needs.
Another obstacle mothers may face is illness and inaccurate medical suggestions. Not long after we left the hospital, we had to return due to jaundice. My daughter had high levels of bilirubin, and I was told at the hospital to stop breastfeeding. On the day of my daughter’s discharge, however, another doctor came in and told me that I was misinformed and shouldn’t have stopped breastfeeding.
I was also told to stop breastfeeding because my daughter was having an allergic skin reaction to my milk as well as dairy. By this time I was ready to throw in the towel. Well, I didn’t stop breastfeeding but I did eliminate all dairy products from my diet, which was incredibly difficult to do. Again, I was misinformed. It turns out that her skin, like many newborns, was just sensitive and had absolutely nothing to do with what I ate.
After three months of these struggles, I was finally able to get it down. My daughter and I were pros! Then I would get the question, “How long do you plan to breastfeed? It’s been three months.” And at the one-year mark, people would say that I needed to let it go. I didn’t understand these comments or what it mattered to them.
I would be the first one to encourage any mother to experience this beautiful relationship that is not only the best thing you can do for your child, but also the ultimate bonding experience you can have with your baby. My daughter nursed until the age of two (and a couple of months). I’m now expecting my second and, without a doubt, I’ll once again breastfeed. After all, mother knows best.
Source: LLL USA – http://www.lllusa.org/blog/