Tuesday, August 4, 2015

World Breastfeeding Week

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  As most of you know I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, so I couldn't let this week go by without acknowledging it!  Unfortunately, many see this week as a time for breastfeeding women to simply pat themselves on the back.  But that is not what this week is about at all.  This week is important!!!  It's about bringing awareness, bringing support, marveling at women's bodies and their ability to provide.


Women need support to be successful at breastfeeding.  They need support from their care providers, from their partner, from their work, from family, from friends.  Unfortunately, this essential part of breastfeeding is what many women lack.  There are medical professionals who still have limited knowledge about breastfeeding or even incorrect knowledge.  A local mom was recently told by a nurse that "her breasts were too small, so she would not be able to breastfeed."  A nurse told a vulnerable new mom this!  First off, that couldn't be more false! This "medical advice" is completely unacceptable, yet far too common.  There is so much bad information out there that a breastfeeding relationship can often be sabotaged early on, even before it ever had a chance to start and develop.  Many women also do not have the appropriate amount of time to get breastfeeding established before they have to go back to work.  Our country in particular really needs to change how we view maternity leave & the length at which is commonly found supported by employers.  These are just a few of the areas that demonstrate how so much more support is needed!  Word Breastfeeding Week brings with it more awareness and hopefully more change for the better each and every year.


This week also brings breastfeeding into the spotlight, hopefully catching the attention of women who may not even be mothers yet & those people who will simply be supporting a nursing mother.  Many women have not even seen a woman breastfeed before embarking on that journey themselves.  Hearing that was so surprising for me!  It should be a norm in our society.  "Breastfeeding in public" shouldn't even be a thing...it's just breastfeeding!  Sadly, nursing mothers are still shamed by others (even businesses) for simply feeding their child wherever is necessary.  The more people see it, the more it will become the norm.  The same should be said for "extended breastfeeding," even though I'm not really a fan of that term.  Nothing magically changes when a baby turns one year old, so why do many mothers all of sudden feel pressure to wean?  Nursing Liam just past the age of 2 was such an incredible experience for us both.  The nursing relationship changes as your baby becomes a toddler!  They no longer sole rely on your for nutrition, so breastfeeding begins to take a new role.  It's more of a comfort, of a way to check in.  I vividly remember the first time that Liam seriously hurt himself after he had weaned, and my heart ached when I was unable to give him the comfort of nursing while he was hurting.  I wish more women had the opportunity for those experiences!  Here in Utah, I am surrounded by numerous women still nursing their toddlers, and it is such a wonderful thing to see!  I love that in my large friend group this is the norm!  



I frequently get asked about what books are best?  Where to seek help?  What kinds of support groups exist?  So, here are my some of my favorite resources...   The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is the only breastfeeding book you will need! I read it front to back while I was pregnant with Liam, & I still reference it now that I have Finn.  It was the single book that made me ridiculously excited to breastfeed for the first time!  As a woman who had never breastfed before, I felt as prepared as I could possibly be!  And Sweet Sleep is a great sleep book for the breastfed baby.  This is a particularly good read if you have one of those all-night nursers.  That was my Liam.  I hit a rough patch during months 6-9 where I thought my child was the only one who would breastfeed every 45 minutes or so all night long.  Sweet Sleep makes sense of it all!  Both of these books are authored by La Leche League, which also happens to be thee best support group around!  I met many of my mama friends through LLL!  Not only do we attend the monthly meetings (as well as a toddler meeting), but we plan playdates weekly!  It is wonderful to constantly be surrounded by like minded parents who fully support me in how I have chosen to raise my boys!  


Lastly, if you need more than just general support, lactation consultants can save almost any breastfeeding relationship.  Do not under-value their worth!  The title of "lactation consultant" can be used fairly liberally (read: some potential for bad information...), so I always recommend seeing an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).  This way you can be assured that you are truly seeing the best of the best!  I'm feel fortunate to have LLL leaders as well as an IBCLC among my close mom friends!  I find myself asking them questions constantly.  Even though I've been breastfeeding for well over two years, I still need support from time to time!  It's wonderful to have this nursing bond with fellow mothers, because we can all share in the joy of breastfeeding, but also empathize with one another through the challenging moments!



And there will be plenty of challenges.  For some it's those first few days of pain or getting a good latch.  For others it's the sleepless nights.  Or it's lip or tongue tie that went undiagnosed.  It's the oversupply.  It may be the nursing strike.  And for some these challenges seem to big to overcome, especially without support.  There is much knowledge to be had & shared!  I cannot stress enough how much support nursing mothers absolutely need.  Even those mothers that do not appear to have tangible struggles still need to be support.  Challenges will arise, but it is so worth it.  It's worth the bond.  It's worth those amazing antibodies that are specific to your baby's sickness.  It's worth the sleepiness that falls upon a nursing child.  It's worth all the tantrums nursing prevents & the ones it helps to overcome.  It's natural.  It's beautiful.  It's something to be cherished & something to be celebrated!


Breastfeeding has helped to shape the mother that I am.  At LLL, we frequently talk about "mothering at the breast," a philosophy that I often think about.  Breastfeeding brings joy, comfort, nourishment, reassurance, & love!  It is the most pure and true relationship that you can have with your child and one that I will forever treasure!  This week is more than important to me, & I hope that all of you can see & support its significance too!

16 comments :

  1. Great post, you hit every nail on the head! I think people will learn a lot from this this info. I hadn't realized that Liam weaned. I am trying to wean my 3 year old and prefer the term "full-term" breastfeeding, not that I talk about outside of breastfeeding circles... Extended makes it sound like longer than normal, which isn't the case at all, it's normal for humans to nurse till 2 or beyond.

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  2. Beautiful post. I agree that breastfeeding moms need more support and shouldn't be shamed for feeding their baby in public. I ended up pumping but I think it's crazy how people freak out about nursing in public!

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  3. I love all your photos and I totally agree...if you see my post today it's quite similar, all about finding support in breastfeeding! Great minds think alike :) xo Chelsea play. wash. rinse. repeat.

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    1. So much support...I could scream it from the mountaintops! And thanks! I love having breastfeeding photos to look back on. I only wish that I had some taken when Liam was still nursing at age 2.

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  4. Love your heart and everything about this!! What an honor and privilege it is to breastfeed. <3

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  5. what a wonderful informative post :) when you said 'what books are best' i thought it said boobs, lol. obviously i don't have kids but i hope to one day and i really hope to breastfeed - though i'm not delusional and i know it will come with its challenges! good to know there is help out there though.

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  6. Love love love this!! I think it's a tricky balance to inform mamas of all the issues that might arise and have to be worked through, paired with just how absolutely wonderful and amazing it is.

    I wish I could adequately express just how much I love feeding my baby!

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  7. Well put! In every point. I didn't realize how you just really need somebody in your corner to breastfeed. It is harder than you expect, or I expected. But worth every effort. I was the first pregnant of my group of friends so when the next one got pregnant I was like get your husband on board 100% because you'll need that push to stick with it. She nursed for almost 2 years with her first, and I think that completely rocked.

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  8. I just read this while breastfeeding Reid! Since I'm contemplating going back to work and staying home- I'm thinking of things that I'm passionate about that I could do while staying at home. And having read your blog for a few years, I know how passionate you are about breastfeeding and you would be such a great lactation consultant! I'm not sure what that entails, but I'm sure so many girls would benefit from having you on their side and helping them through the sometimes not so easy journey of breastfeeding! My sister is working with a sleep consultant over the phone and I bet there's something similar for LCs, Just a random thought... :)

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    1. I have a friend who is a lactation consultant, so I have all the resources practically in my hands to pursue something. But for right now, I don't want to take that time away from my boys. I feel like I don't have time for everything as is currently! But I could totally see myself pursuing this passion once all my kids are in school!

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  9. One if the things I was truly THE most excited for when realizing I was pregnant again was breastfeeding. So much so that I would become emotional just thinking about it. It's just indescribably so very special. I agree with so much of what you have written here. More awareness definitely needs to happen. Support is absolutely crucial to a successful nursing relationship. Especially a supportive partner. It baffles me that over the course of my pregnancy I received countless formula solicitations in the mail including actual formula samples, yet nothing on breastfeeding. Makes me so sad because encouragement & support could be life changing (literally) to tons.

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  10. You go mama!! P and I went a year breastfeeding but I am ready to wrap it up. I have to say I will miss it but I am so glad I stuck it out through those very hard beginning weeks!!

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  11. Beautiful post and beautiful pictures! While I was unable to breastfeed Mason, I still strongly support breastfeeding. I feel like women do need more support and more resources to be successful like you said. I feel like I was the one doing the research to try to get it to work and to produce more and I called my doctor and asked questions. i wish there was someone knowledgable that I could have asked who could have actually helped!

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  12. Catching up.. :) This is such a great post, your passion really shines through again!! I've saved this to share with other new moms, as well as read myself. Also, thank you for being part of my 'support' - LLL wasn't always an option for me schedule-wise, but whenever something would come up, I'd think 'I need to ask Laura what to do..?!' :)

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  13. Everything about this post is beautiful! You, your advice, your knowledge and your message are a few of many reasons why I'm so glad I found your blog! Xo, Stephanie

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