Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To the "New Moms on the Fence About Breastfeeding"

This evening I came across a piece titled "6 Reasons to STOP Breastfeeding," and while I hate to give it any additional traffic, I feel compelled to respond.  I acknowledge there are plenty of legitimate reasons many women have for not breastfeeding, either by biological force or by choice, but I cannot get behind any of the ones provided in the manner that they are presented in this article.  However, despite being in complete disagreement with her rationale, I have no problem with one woman declaring this list as it applies to her own life that I'm not living.  It saddens me a little bit, but in no way angers me that one mother may make these choices for herself and her children.  What I do find infuriating and somewhat dangerous is the closing statement, "I'm writing this for all the new moms out there who are on the fence about breastfeeding. I think there are plenty of real, but non-medical reasons to stop breastfeeding. And, they're valid reasons, at least in my opinion."

As I've already admitted, no, I don't think these reasons are valid, and addressing new mothers with such brazen complacency, acting like this is the solution to every frustrated mother's problems is astonishing.  Again, if these are issues/solutions for her - so be it.  Many would say there are ways around most of them, but I'm not here to speak to the woman that wrote that piece and tell her how to live her life.  I would like to address the same group of "new moms out there who are on the fence about breastfeeding." 

My daughter is 2.5 years old.  As I've discussed before, we did not have an easy start to our nursing relationship with her in the NICU and myself recovering from a c-section, but we persevered.  I am a stay at home mom to one child and I am fully aware of the luxuries that affords me when it comes to nursing.  My daughter was exclusively breastfed until just under 8 months, and I don't think I've touched my pump since she was 4 months old. So I fully grasp the kind of commitment this woman is referring to.  She still nurses at least 5 times a day, but I will be the first to say that if I was working full time, I do not think I would've stuck with it so far beyond that first year.  That, like the decision every other mom makes when it comes to breastfeeding, would be my choice and I'm not here to condemn anyone for choosing differently.  Again, I understand there are plenty of women who may not be physically capable, or arrangements with employment make it too difficult, or any number of other things that may deter achieving a successful breastfeeding relationship.  This is for the women who are able to nurse, but are still unsure about the impact it will have on their life. 

After reading the article above, I had the overwhelming urge to say one thing to those very same women she was speaking to.  It is such a SMALL portion of your life together with your child, and it means so very, very much.  When I'm 70 and my daughter is 36, this time in our lives will be nothing but a blink of an eye.  And I don't even have to wait that long.  On a day to day basis can the sleep deprivation and demands of being a mother make some days seem longer than others?  Of course they can, but other days I cannot even fathom that 2.5 years have already gone by.  Do I miss partying and doing what I please without consequence?  Hell yeah!  And believe me, a large glass filled with nothing but 3 shots of Jack Daniels used to be my drink of choice, so I'm well versed in the bar hopping lifestyle.  But that was what I did in my 20's, and now is the time that I'm spending growing and nourishing my child (hopefully children one day).  I guess I've always felt like parenting was more about self-sacrifice in the name of your child's best interest.  And while I'm certain sacrifices will continue to be made throughout her life into adulthood, I know that my daughter will not always require the level of commitment that she does now, and one day, a day that will come all too quickly, I will long for these days of incomparable intimacy with her.  The days when I can still pull her close and nurse her and have that connection with her.  There is really nothing like it, and nothing that would deter me from doing it again for as long as I could if we had another child.  I will never be able to get this time back, or have another chance to have such a tremendous impact on the overall health and emotional well being of my child.  When my body is finished making and nourishing babies, then I'll worry about appearances.  But even then, I wouldn't trade in my stretch marks or breasts that are no longer what they once were for anything, because they helped make the one thing that is the most beautiful thing in my world.


Meegs said... [Reply to comment]

I'm glad you wrote this. I appreciate what the other author was *trying* to do, offer an out for someone who is miserable breastfeeding but who feels like they HAVE to continue. However, it can be so hard as a newly breastfeeding mom to continue when she wants to, if it gets a little tough, since all the voices seem to be telling her "why struggle, just quit." My daughter will be 3 in 3 weeks, and we are still nursing. Just twice a day now, but we both still get a lot from that special time together. We had some tough times at the beginning... a strong side preference, clogged ducts, mastitis, and hours attached to that horrible pump (I work outside of the home)... and there were times I wanted to give up. I'm so glad I didn't. All of those reasons she gave to quit, they are pretty easy to work around. If she is done, then she is done, and she shouldn't feel the need to make an excuse for that. But she also shouldn't make anyone else feel like if it gets a little hard, they should just give up.

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