It wasn’t until after I started regularly getting online, sometime between the birth of Zach and having Ryan, that I realized that some people can be rather vocal against breastfeeding. I remember at the time wondering, “why? how?” Roughly eight years later and I still just sit and wonder at the negative reactions.
I guess I have my mother to thank. She breastfed us, she was open about it. We grew up on stories about silly or annoying things that we would do while nursing. She gave us bottles and formula too (well, I believe only one of us got formula). But when I got pregnant with Zach we never had discussions about formula or bottles. We had discussions about breastfeeding and pumping. I sort of thought everyone was like that.
Really though, for some reason a lot of people don’t like it, they think it’s gross, and they definitely don’t want to see it in action. And I just can’t understand how people can think that it’s gross to use your breasts for their natural function.
My hope is that by the time Bella has children that this whole breastfeeding issue is a non-issue.
I hope that when she is older she remembers all these talks that we’ve had about it. And we do have a lot of conversations about breastfeeding and babies. She knows that she came out of me when she was a baby, and that I came out of her Maumau, and the Maumau came out of Nana. She likes to talk about how when she was a baby she had boobmilk, the same way Mason has boobmilk. We talk about how girls have breasts so that when they are mommies they can feed their babies. If Mason is sad, upset or angry she’ll come and say “Mom, you better give that baby a boob.”
I love that that is what she thinks when she hears a fussy baby. Not that the baby needs a bottle or pacifier, that the baby needs to nurse. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
Snuggling with Mason and I while he nurses is one of her favorite things to do. She will even climb in bed with us at night, on Mason’s side, and snuggle in with her arm around him while he is nursing. They play with each other – I wake many mornings to “Where’s Mason? Where’s Mason? There he is!” – they tickle, they make faces. She loves singing the Boa Constrictor song to him and tickling him as she goes. All this goes on while I’m breastfeeding him, that’s how normal it is to her.
But I don’t just stop with talking to Bella about it.
When Bella was breastfeeding I couldn’t stand the pushy breastfeeding moms. And I disliked them even more when I had to cut our breastfeeding relationship short due to her failure to thrive. I thought they were smug and overbearing. (And hey, in my defense, some are.) While I would support any breastfeeding things my friends threw at me, because I’ve always supported it, I never invested too much time in it all. I worked hard to promote that while breast is good, it’s OK if you have to or chose to use formula, the most important thing is a healthy baby. Since having Mason, and experiencing again the wonder of such a beautiful and magical breastfeeding relationship like I had with Zach, I’m right back to being dumbfounded at people being against it all.
Knowing that I want her to experience this has led me to being more involved in the push to normalize breastfeeding and breastfeeding in public. I talk about breastfeeding with everyone. I mean everyone. If I hear about a friend or relative getting pregnant (especially first time moms) I’m right there telling them they should at least give it a shot. I answer their questions. I help them in any ways that I can. I let them know that I’m there for them to support and help them. I bug and pester people about how feeding your baby anywhere he is hungry is not only fine, it's normal. And just because Mason is one does not mean he has to stop anytime soon. I’m so annoyingly persistent about it that friends who don’t even have kids share breastfeeding things that they find with me.
I annoy all my friends, and their friends, and you my blog readers for one goal only. I don’t do it for me. To make changes for the now. I do all of this because one day, when Bella is hopefully much older, I don’t want her to feel awkward or embarrassed for breastfeeding. I don’t want her to feel like she has to hide it away, or explain her reasoning, or defend it. And I don’t ever want her to ever hear that it’s nasty or that she needs to go do it in a bathroom or car.