I'm a Minority!
Posted By: Abigail Walston
I'm returning to work as a teacher in September. I'm not a big fan of pumping and my son has rarely used bottles so I know that going back to work is going to be a big adjustment for both of us.
When I was growing up, breastfeeding was normal. I grew up on a small family farm in Connecticut, where I was able to watch births of baby animals and see them nurse shortly after. Horses, goats, sheep and cows all nursed without problems. Nursing was clearly an important part of survival. We only used milk replacer for animals that were away from their mothers, having been purchased from a different farm. Once, we found a sickly fawn and "nursed" her back to health with milk replacer. I vividly remember mixing up the milk and hating the smell of the powder, then lovingly giving her the bottle. It was always evident that the milk replacer was the last resort. Mother's milk was best.
The same was true at my house. My mom, who today would be deemed a "lactivist," nursed each of her three children. As the oldest, I saw breastfeeding on a daily basis. It was always the way that babies were fed. There were never bottles in my house, and none of us ever took a bottle. On the rare occasion I saw a mom give her baby a bottle, I always assumed that for some reason, the mother couldn't nurse her baby. It made me sad.
I carried the assumption into adulthood that most moms nurse their babies. When I became pregnant and started reading, I realized that most moms in the United States do not breastfeed. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that while 74% of US infants are breastfed soon after birth, less than 14% continue to be exclusively breastfed by 6 months of age.
I was shocked when I realized that my decision to exclusively breastfeed my son put me in the minority of mothers. My life experience did not represent the societal norms. I think the fact that I was raised in a culture of breastfeeding helped contribute to my own success in developing a breastfeeding relationship with my son. Combined with support from my husband and family as well as the confidence that I was making the right choice for my son, breastfeeding came easy for us. Joshua nursed early and often, my mature milk came in at four days after birth, and we never looked back.
I'm determined to give my children the same experience that I had growing up: mother's milk is best, natural and normal. I nurse Joshua around my family and friends, mostly because feeding an infant is pretty constant, but also because I'm hoping to provide a good example. I hope that if they see me breastfeed my son, they'll be more likely to be supportive of other breastfeeding moms, or even breastfeed their own children.12:00pm on Wednesday September 22
I'm so glad that you grew up thinking that breastfeeding is natural and best, because it IS!
I'm delighted that our family provided you with this positive breastfeeding culture, because that was just the way it was on the farm with our animals and at home with you and your brothers. I, too, have such vivid memories of "nursing" Bambi until she could live on her own in the orchard (of course with the nipple bottle and that milk replacer DID smell bad), and of you "nursing" your baby dolls right along side me on the couch as I was nursing your brothers.
I am shocked to hear that currently only 14% of Moms and babies are exclusively breastfeeding by 6 months. Perhaps you and the other talented bloggers at Bravado will help to change this!
Lots of love,
Ruth (aka "Mom/Grandmom")