"It Takes Diff'rent Strokes"
Posted By: Sarah Strapp
I am eager, anxious, nervous, and exciting to get this baby to my breast.
"What might be right for you, may not be right for some"
-Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring and Al Burton
When did our society start passing so much judgment on nursing mothers? Who made up the rule, "if they're old enough to talk, they're too old to nurse?" I would just like to know why people are so concerned with how long a child is nourished or comforted by his mother. Mother's milk has been proven to aid brain development, immunity, dental health, and a myriad of other important functions. In fact, children who nurse for beyond 12 months are shown to be more independent toddlers and young children.
I just don't understand why people care so much. As a new mother it seems that everyone has an opinion on our parenting style. We get questions like, "are you letting him cry?" and "are you practicing attachment parenting?" and "why don't you stop nursing, you will feel so liberated." My husband and I are not practicing any particular style of parenting aside from our own. We trust ourselves to do give Sammy everything he needs and the first way we do that is by choosing to breastfeed exclusively. I understand that there are a lot of women out there with particular circumstances where formula can be a great help, but thankfully, we are not in that position. Sammy has a hearty appetite and I have an ample supply of milk. I am able to hold Sammy to my breast with confidence and strength, we are both healthy and strong, so why not nurse.
As a woman, my body was designed to gestate, birth and nurture my child. While my pregnancy with Sammy was a minefield of symptoms such as nausea and achy joints, his birth was the most natural, joyous and beautiful experience. I thought that after a natural birth breastfeeding would be a simple and easy step, but it wasn't. Breastfeeding is a process and occasionally a struggle, but when put in perspective, the struggle is well worth it. There is always the knowledge that the whole point of my breasts is to feed my young. This knowledge comforts me in my moments of distress and struggle. This knowledge is what I explain to people when they question my choices. "This is what my body was designed for, and this is what works for us and our family."
My choices as a mother are my own. I endeavor to give Sammy the best life he could possibly have and I do that the best I can. My relationship with Sammy blossoms every day, we grow closer and get to know each other a bit better. Sammy's father stands behind my choices as a mother and I stand behind his choices as a father. We support each other and believe that what we are doing is best for our boy. We know that we have given him a jumpstart at life by breastfeeding and we hope to continue breastfeeding as long as we both can stand to. My question is why does it bother so many people? Why is a woman feeding her child so upsetting? When will parents learn that "it takes diff'rent strokes?"12:00pm on Thursday February 24
Thanks for all your comments! It is so nice and comforting to know that there are women out there who believe in themselves and their choices that are not influenced by Hollywood, the previous generations or society as a whole. Keep at it ladies!
The World Health Organization and the Canaidan Paediatric Society both recommend breastfeeding for two years and beyond -- because it is extremely beneficial for the child (as well as the mother). It's terrible that we are made to feel ashamed if we want to breastfeed our babies beyond 12 months (heaven forbid you should be breastfeeding a three-year-old!). If it works for mother and baby, not matter what the child's age, how is it anyone else's business?
I have to admit that before having my daughter I was one of those people who thought six months was plenty and was even slightly uncomfortable when my friends would nurse their older babies/toddlers. Since becoming a mother and being able to experience the joy of nursing your baby and the feeling that you are giving the best you have to offer, I have changed my opinion entirely. I can now say, with no shame or doubt, that I will nurse my daughter as long as we are able and will be sure to support all mothers who choose to do the same.
I tell people that in my opinion parenting is about not knowing all the answers but making the best decision you can for your child with the information available to you. This includes nursing beyond 12 months if that is what mom and baby are comfortable with.
I have met a few people, some relatives, that don't understand prolonged nursing, but the majority have been either supportive or at least they don't comment :)
I find it continually frustrating to hear in the news and in society how much nursing is unaccepted. It's one of the most natural things that a mother can do. And it is only the business of the parents how long they nurse for and what parenting decisions they make. I'm really shocked to see, now that I've had my first son, how many people think its their duty to express their personal concerns and parenting tips when they are not asked for even when it comes to nursing and how long I choose to nurse for.
I find it thoroughly frustrating and annoying that on a daily basis people judge me for continuing to nurse our 18 month old. Most of the time they just don't 'get it' or understand and they are trying to. The most offensive comment to date is that I am 'getting something out of it (wink wink nudge nudge)' really nasty, we won't go any further with that one. The latest comment has been "oh have you seen that movie grown ups"? then they snicker. It is very easy for them to judge, most of them didn't nurse theirs for more than a few months. You don't see me judging them for their choice to stop! It works for us, we are both content with it, its healthy for both of us. I have good equipment and it works really well, as the hospital lactation person mentioned to me. If Hollywood is going to condemn it, then others will think its acceptable for them to as well. Sad but true unfortunately.
I think that some people, especially ones from an older generation that were told by doctors that breastfeeding would be bad for their babies, feel guilty when they see some one choosing differently. As if it was a direct comment on their parenting skills. They really shouldn't, as they did the best for their children that they knew at the time.
On the other hand, some people offer criticism as a way of showing interest and caring for the parents. No, it's not very helpful, and No, they don't really know what they're talking about, but if we can remember that they are offering advice (or arguments!) out of concern, it can make it easier to bear.
And then there are the people that just think they know better...ignore them, surround yourself with positive support, and enjoy your baby :)
It's not upsetting! It's beautiful. My little one isn't here yet, but I can't wait to give him that same jumpstart on life that you gave yours! And you're exactly right - your choices as a mother are your OWN!