Why is it that one of the most natural functions in the world – breast feeding your baby – has so many issues?
Mothers are made to feel guilty if they don’t breast feed, how long they breast feed for and if they breast feed in public.
Isn't it time the pressure was taken off the mother?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breast fed (with no added water, juice or other foods) for the first six months of life. It goes on to support breast feeding for the first year and beyond as long as mother and child are willing.
This recommendation is perfectly sensible and clear and no one should have any trouble in understanding it
The bottom line is that if a mother wants to breast feed and is able to, she should be given every encouragement and understanding. It should not mean that she cannot venture out of her house during that time in case she has to breast feed her baby in public. A hungry baby needs to be fed wherever you happen to be. In recent times, nursing mothers have been asked to refrain from breast feeding in public by over zealous officials causing embarrassment to the mothers.
Karen Peters, executive director of the Breast Feeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles
said “our society still does not recognize the functional use of breasts – it only recognizes the sexual aspect
”. That is rather an indictment on today’s public. There is still a sizeable proportion of this public who feel uncomfortable with moms nursing in public.
Because of this, and until such opinions change, it makes sense for moms to do a little bit of planning beforehand in case they need to breast feed in public. They should not have to feel embarrassed because of the ignorance of others.
Here are some tips
- Feed your baby just before you leave home.
- Try to breast feed your baby even before he starts to get hungry as crying babies attract attention to both mom and baby and he will nurse more calmly, without pulling at your clothes.
- Wear easy access clothing – an old T-shirt underneath your normal clothing in which you have previously cut openings works well.
- Use breast pads if you are likely to have any milk leakages.
- Drape a light shirt, jacket or pashmina over your shoulders to cover yourself and your baby. A blanket just makes you both hot.
- As your baby gets a little older, give him a soft toy to hold when he is feeding or wear a special nursing necklace of large colorful and non toxic beads that your baby can play with.
- Another method is to nurse your baby in a sling. If you turn your baby’s body towards you and bring up the padded rail to cover both of you, then it could not be easier to feed your baby.
- Some suggestions for an actual place to sit and feed are a fitting room in a store, a ladies’ room with a sitting area or a restaurant with booths. Staff are usually very helpful in accommodating such requests.
New mothers are often intimidated by well meaning friends and family who have strong opinions on breast feeding. It is the best gift that you can give your baby so don’t let anyone try to take that gift away.
When you start to breast feed your baby, don’t give yourself a sell-by date to stop
Take it step by step so that you breast feed as long as you possibly can – it is just the very best way for you both to de-stress in this modern stressful world.
When my own children were babies, I breast fed them for three or four months but we were not aware then of the tremendous benefits for long term breast feeding so I did not make the effort to persevere. Even those slight drawbacks of breast feeding in the first few weeks such as breast engorgement or cracked nipples can be easily treated.
My own daughter recently breast fed her child until he was two and a half. When the time came to give up, he was old enough to understand that he was now a big boy. But he has had a wonderful start in life with the benefit of antibodies and other protective substances from his mother. He is secure and healthy and never needed a blanket or comfort toy or to suck his thumb or a dummy.
Breast feeding eased the frustration and soothed over many of the rough moments that made up his young life.