Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Breastfeeding Month

I didn't know it until recently but apparently August is National Breastfeeding awareness month. When I was pregnant I hoped to be able to breastfeed but I knew that it could be difficult and that I might not be able to. I've heard about a lot of women who struggle. So I resolved that I would take every reasonable step to be able to nurse John but that John's health and personal and family sanity would take priority if obstacles occurred.

Thankfully there have been no obstacles and I have been so happy with the entire experience so far. I love breastfeeding! There is really something so nurturing about it that I can't quite capture in words. I feel like it is an act of God's grace in that it extends the bond between mother and child beyond birth (though formula and breast pumps are also from the grace of God and have improved the health of many an infant). Birth is a small death of sorts. A death of the relationship that occurs in pregnancy. The baby goes from being completely dependent on the mother and completely intimate with her to having to rely on his own body for life. And everyday after birth is a step towards complete independence from his mother. Breastfeeding, in my experience, extends the closeness of pregnancy and infancy. I love to cradle him in my arms and I know that I will look back and cherish these days years from now when he's sixteen and breaks his curfew. The best, cutest moments are when he takes a break from eating to look up at me a coo. It's as if there is something that he just has to tell me. So precious!

Not to mention that it is so convenient. Everywhere I go I have everything I need. I never have to mix formula, wash bottles etc. I fear my child might be an ethereal waif right now if I had been required to get up and make bottles multiple times per night.

My cheeks and I support breastfeeding.

That's not to say that things always play out like a hallmark card. I missed the entire ceremony at Peter's sister's wedding because I was feeding John. (It was a short ceremony and he had also pooped through his onesie...) I think he has had some reflux and at times this makes feeding really unpleasant.

I don't judge people who decide not to breastfeed. Peter and I were both mostly formula fed. I don't know if that's any encouragement to formula feed but I think we've turned out tolerably well by society's standards.

I've more than doubled my weight in 3 months! At any other age I would be considered morbidly obese. But right now I'm considered delectably fat, medically speaking.

So, there's my endorsement for breastfeeding! Though, the most important thing is that the baby is fed and loved. So no one should feel ashamed if she cannot nurse. But if I may step on a soapbox for a moment I would like to rant about one of my pet peeves. In our society people are perfectly okay with breasts. They are everywhere. Victoria's Secret catalogs adorn many a coffee table throughout the country. There are billboards of scantily clad women lining our highways. For crying out loud, a lot of us are hard pressed to find a t-shirt that doesn't bear cleavage. Yet when women actually use their breasts doing the one thing for which they were intended, many people become offended. A few years ago a woman was actually told that she could not nurse her baby in a Victoria's Secret dressing room! There are no words to capture the inanity of that scenario. Recently a friend of mine was told to "get a room" when she was breastfeeding in Cracker Barrel.

I'm thankful that today breastfeeding is encouraged more than it once was. My grandmother has told me that she was dissuaded from nursing her oldest child, who was born prematurely, by her mother-in-law. She still talks about this with dismay. Things have improved today today in that women are generally encouraged to breastfeed. Unfortunately many are not given much practical support. Yet things still seem rather backwards when no one bats an eye at a string bikini or a sheer blouse but breastfeeding is considered weird or inappropriate. The message seems to be that it's fine to ogle a woman's body (or conversely, for her to flaunt her body any way she wants) but not for her to care for her child using her body the way it was intended.

Alright, I'll step off of my soapbox now. Because, speaking of soap, I actually need to wash something. The laundry, the floor, the dishes, the bathroom... yikes, there are so many choices...


Melissa said...

Well said! And happy breastfeeding month to you and John from Noelle and I :) We miss you but it sounds like things are going very well in Texas!

Peter and Leslie said...

We miss you guys too, Melissa! Tell Noelle and Mark we say hello! Thanks for commenting. :o)

Holly said...

I love your blog! And I love how John is "delectably fat!" :-)