This article discusses the benefits and importance of breastfeeding. If you are a parent who cannot nurse for whatever reason (mental/physical health, adoption, biologically unable, etc.), please know that YOU ARE ENOUGH! You’re doing amazing, sweetie. Keep going!
My Breastfeeding Journey
No one told me that breastfeeding would be just as much (if not more) of an odyssey as pregnancy and childbirth. It was such a monumental part of my postpartum recovery, adjustment, and growth. Between extremely painful latching, misinformed hospital lactation consultants, and multiple cases of excruciating mastitis—I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. But here we are, more than two years later, and I am still breastfeeding my toddler.
Photo Credit: On The Vine Photography
I’ve heard it all:
“Breast is best.”
“Fed is best.”
“When are you going to wean him?”
“I wish I could have breastfed for two years!”
“Don’t worry, this is a safe place to nurse your little one.”
Despite all the conflicting commentary thrown my way, fellow Collin County Moms contributor Jennifer Copeland gave me the best advice of all:
“Only YOU know what’s best for you and your baby!”
This nugget of motherly wisdom, along with the support of La Leche League, and the professional advice of Vicki Gettel (an IBCLC who later came highly recommended by a neighbor) were all I needed to get through that initial bump (or two!…boob jokes, anyone?)
A Breastfeeding Bucket List
A bucket list is not something I imagined when I thought about breastfeeding. However, when my inconsolable son continuously cried out for “nur-nur” (yet another shoutout to the influential Jennifer Copeland), I found myself nursing in some pretty interesting situations:
- In line for a ride at Disney World
- While Dad changed a blow-out diaper
- Planking over my baby, to let gravity unclog my milk duct
- As my toddler does acrobatics, regularly kicking me in the face
- While going “pee-pee on the potty” (Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!)
World Breastfeeding Week
According to World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Breastfeeding Week marks the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration, which was signed by government policymakers, the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to “protect, support, and promote breastfeeding all over the world.”
WorldBreastfeedingWeek.org states that its goal is to:
- Inform people about their role in strengthening the “warm chain” of support for breastfeeding
- Anchor breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security, and reduction of inequalities
- Engage with individuals and organizations along the warm chain of support for breastfeeding
- Galvanize action on strengthening capacity of “actors” and “systems” for transformational change
Benefits of Breastfeeding
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some benefits of breastfeeding include:
- It’s the best source of nutrition for most babies.
- It helps shield babies from diseases and illnesses.
- It provides antibodies from the mother.
- It’s convenient to feed anytime, anywhere.
- It can reduce the mother’s risk of certain cancers and illnesses.
Why do we quit breastfeeding?
According to the CDC:
60% of mothers wean their babies sooner than they originally planned.
Common reasons for early weaning include:
- Lactation and latching problems
- Infant weight and nutrition concerns
- Medications moms are concerned will pass through milk and affect baby
- Lack of support from employer
- Insufficient parental leave
- Judgment from others
- Unsupportive family
- Hospital policies/practices that do not accommodate breastfeeding
How We Can Support Nursing Mothers
- Compensate your employees with comfortable nursing and pumping areas, paid parental leave, and adequate time off.
- Don’t stare at moms who are breastfeeding in public.
- Don’t discourage moms by making comments like, “You’re still nursing?!”
- Vote! Support paid parental leave, quality healthcare, and lactation support for nursing parents.
- Ask how you can help! As a breastfeeding mama, I know how valuable an extra pair of hands can be. I may have gotten a little too comfortable asking my husband for some water or the remote while I feed my little one.
- Educate yourself and your loved ones on the importance of breastfeeding. You may be just as shocked at some of the statistics as I was!
I didn’t think I’d meet my goal of breastfeeding for one year. Then, to my surprise, it got much easier for both my son and me. Today, I am breastfeeding my 25-month-old, something I never would have seen myself doing.
No matter how many times I wanted to quit, I’m grateful I am able to breastfeed. I could not have done it without the support of my husband, family, and friends.