4.01.2011

Breastfeeding and Me, Part II

I had some pretty strong opinions about breastfeeding (particularly in public) when I wrote this post.  Now that my perspective has changed, some of my opinions have softened.  However, many of them have stayed exactly the same.

I have nursed Lucas in lots of different places, with and without a cover.  If you had asked me two years ago, I never would have thought I would be okay with nursing in public without a cover.  For the most part, I do prefer to use something--I'm not a fan of feeling "all out in the open."  But, meeting my child's needs is and will always be my first priority, and sometimes, that means I nurse uncovered.*

*Side note: Cole is still not comfortable with this choice of mine.  Fortunately, I'm usually prepared and have at least a blanket to use.

That being said, I've still never experienced discrimination when breastfeeding in public.  I've never received dirty looks--actually, I've never even noticed if I HAVE gotten any looks.  Cole is usually the one who points out if someone was staring, and by then, we're not in the same place anymore and the point is moot.  I've never been approached by anyone.  I've never been asked to leave.  If I found myself in any of these situations, I still feel that the best way to handle them would be through "open dialogue, consideration, and compromise" (as I said two years ago).

My opinion changed somewhat on the issue of formula-feeding.  Now that I know I can breastfeed, I will accept nothing less for the rest of my children.  Does this mean I think formula-feeding is bad?  Not at all.  I will NEVER belittle, criticize, or think ill of any woman who formula-feeds her baby, either by choice or by necessity.  For ME, however, it's not an option.  I do have to be careful, though, because sometimes I get a little complacent.  Sometimes I find my knee-jerk reaction at seeing a mom giving her baby a bottle to be a little judgmental, or even smug: "That poor mom.  I wonder why she's giving her baby a bottle.  I'm SO glad I don't have to do that."   I mentally slap myself whenever I do this: "You don't know her or her situation.  She is doing what is best for her and her baby, and you have no right to judge her" (yes, I might be a touch schizophrenic).  This mental conversation takes all of a couple of seconds, and when it's over, I'm able to admire the unselfishness and commitment that is motherhood in any form.

Anyway, I love breastfeeding.  I love that Lucas makes the funniest sound when he wants to nurse--it's part yelling, part laughing, and part coughing.  I love that the one sign he does semi-consistently is "milk."  I love that if I'm holding him on my lap and he wants to nurse he tries to lay down and "assume the position," as Cole calls it.  I love that even though he really likes eating solid food, he still wants to nurse after eating to wash it all down.  Even though sometimes it's a pain to get up at night with him, and sometimes I wish I didn't have to share my body, I still wouldn't trade this experience for anything.  It's worth the pain, the time, the effort, and the lost sleep.

Wait, does that say what I think it says?
Yes--yes it does.  Courtesy of Grandma, Papa, and Aunt Nennie



7 comments:

that's what she said...

you and i both had very similar situations when it came to breastfeeding our two babies. my fist was short and only for a few months and bennett nursed exclusively for a year-with no bottles. i went into my second baby knowing it was going to be hard (unlike my first one) and committed to making it work. and it did). i actually miss breastfeeding now-not the act itself, but the bonding time. now he's too all over the place to cuddle up all the time.

i actually feel know guilt at all about not breastfeeding ethan. sometimes i wish we'd had the cuddle time like i had with bennett but it worked out well for us. it gave matt a lot of bonding time with his first baby that he wouldn't have had otherwise and they needed that.

it all works out-as long as the baby is eating and bonding with somebody-mommy or daddy, doesn't matter how they're getting it in. :)

that's what she said...

sorry about all the spelling errors, but you get what i'm trying to say, lol.

Natalie Sadler said...

I still don't like nursing in public without a cover. And I use the Mothers' room consistently. I have received criticism for not wanting to do it, but honestly, I don't care. I'm really pretty good at predicting Ellie and the schedule she has set for herself so I try to plan accordingly. It's just hard for me to feel comfortable whipping it out in front of lots of people and trying to be discreet.

To me, it's something private. It's something I would much rather do with nobody (okay, Copeland, Jay, and my mom don't count) around. Ellie hates nursing in noisy situations and will not eat well if there is too much going on.

But everyone is entitled to what they will or will not do. I don't bat an eyelash when my friend B whips it out while we're at the mall playground and when I see someone nursing, I think nothing of it. I just like my privacy.

And Jay and Cole are in the same boat--Jay doesn't like the idea of me not using a cover. He jokes that he "doesn't want anyone seeing what's rightfully his and his only." lol. And I'm not comfortable with not using a cover or having privacy, anyways, so it works great for us. I think one thing the spousal units can learn from this is that it's not dirty--that it's totally fine. Whipping them out in public is different than whipping them out in . . . "other" scenarios. lol!

I still have a hard time judging moms who formula feed. But my mom told me yesterday that her mother fed her PET evaporated milk!! Then I think of how far formulas have come and think it's not as bad as a lot of people make it.

Don't get me wrong--nursing is still my very top priority. But a lot of the arguments against formula feeding bring me back to this:

My husband was exclusively formula-fed, and he's the most stable, loving, intelligent, HAPPY, HEALTHY (whenever we get the flu, he gets a tiny sniffle!) man I know. My MOTHER was given PET evaporated milk and she's got a stronger immune system than Jay does, is incredibly independent and highly driven in life. My father doesn't even know what HE was fed, but he sure wasn't nursed because my grandma thought it was dirty, and my dad is the most incredible man I know.

If this ever hit a lactivist's eyes, I could come under lots of attack. But honestly, this is what I believe and nothing can change that. I do believe "Breast is Best," but that doesn't mean formula-fed infants are stupid, unhealthy, emotionally sterile, lazy, fat, and unloved. I have multiple examples to counter this accusation. Remember: Life is more what you do with what you have than what people do to you.

Whew! Novel right there!

Jessica said...

Danielle-I don't feel any guilt anymore over not nursing Kyle. I know it was the right decision for both of us. But I have an overactive guilt complex anyway, so when I heard people equating bottle-feeding to child abuse (yes, I really heard that), it was too easy for me to feel guilty even though I made the best decision for me and my child. Now, I know better than to believe the words of people who don't know me or my situation.

Natalie-I completely agree with you. Children who are bottle-fed are in no way inferior to children who are breastfed. My mom only nursed me for 6 months before I started refusing (what can I say? I'm stubborn), and I'd like to think that I'm pretty intelligent. ;) Life is about more than just what you were fed for the first years of your life.

As for nursing uncovered in public, I can only think of two instances where I've done it. I would much rather use a cover or a blanket as well. If I have a cover, though, I'll nurse anywhere. I've nursed in Sacrament Meeting (which I've stopped doing now that Lucas is bigger because he gets distracted easily), in the waiting room at the temple, in Primary and YW, in restaurants...I actually walked through a store nursing Lucas once (my arms got SUPER tired though).

To quote the epic (at least at our house) movie Cars, "Find a groove, and stick with it." That's how I feel about breastfeeding in public. Find what works for you and your child, and roll with it. Just don't be rude and confrontational about yours or anyone else's choice. :)

Parkers said...

I'm enjoying this "breastfeeding and me" series :)

I feel like a complete in-betweener when it comes to breastfeeding. I breastfeed almost exclusively for the first six months and then my milk supply just STOPS; well, practically. Like somebody turned a valve to a slow drip. I am only now (after two very different children with two very similar breastfeeding experiences), realizing that my supply stops when I start a fairly intense exercise regime (generally at about six months post partum). For #3 I fully intend to do a better of job of consuming healthy calories to counter the exercise that affects my milk supply. Anyway, so for both of my children i nursed six months, then nurse/bottle fed for six months. I feel like we've had the best of both worlds, and while I wish that I could fully understand where my milk supply goes, I haven't resented our bottle months at all. I actually absolutely loved watching Jeff give our girls bottles "skin to skin" and seeing him participate in that incredibly bonding experience.

As far as nursing in public. I do it. No shame. Airplanes, parks, church, you name it. But I am ALWAYS covered. I just feel more comfortable that way and it keeps the experience a little more sacred (breastfeeding=sacred? I don't know...) for me :)

Brenda Sue said...

I have a month old little boy, and as much as I have wanted to nurse him, he does NOT like it, so I am indefinitely attached to a breast pump. I do get funny looks when people see me giving him a bottle at such a young age, but hey, I would rather be attached to my pump than have to hear my sweet little boy SCREAM every time I try and get him to nurse.. So I guess I can agree with all sides of the battle. And Jessica, I agree with you completely when you said the pain was worth it. Yes, I may want to cry the first few minutes of pumping, but then I look at Aiden and I know that every ounce of pain is worth it!!

Jessica said...

Amy-I like that you said that "breastfeeding is sacred." Is it possible that it's both sacred and private AND functional and practical? I have to admit that I don't always get that warm, fuzzy bonding feeling when I'm nursing--sometimes, it feels like all business.

I appreciate you sharing your experience breastfeeding your kids. There are so many ways that children can be nourished and strengthened. It's not just "formula or breastfeeding"--it can be so many combinations of both.

Brenda-I think you are a superstar. I hate pumping more than anything in the world, so it's particularly awesome to me that you take the time to pump your milk to feed your sweet little boy.

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