I know none of my friends or family have ever done this, but I need to throw this reminder out there. If you know a mom who is breastfeeding her baby, please, please do not tell her to stop. Don’t tell her when her baby is 6 months old that she needs to stop. Don’t tell her that babies who have teeth can’t breastfeed. Don’t tell her that she needs to stop at 1, or 18 months, or 2 years or 3 years. Don’t tell her that a baby who is “old enough to ask for it” is too old to nurse. That actually makes it easier!! Remember that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding a MINIMUM of 24 months. Remember that breast milk has nutrients and minerals and helps babies build up immunity to sicknesses. Remember that every day a mother breastfeeds, she is helping protect herself from cancer. Remember that there is a strong bond when nursing. It can comfort both mama and baby. Remember that not all mamas have an easy time standing up for themselves and their babies. Remember that it’s their body. And their baby. And, while helpful (I am NOT bashing formula moms, I was one!) formula is the lesser of the two. Please remember that if a mama stops breastfeeding because of YOU and your words, you may be happy and think she’s doing the right thing, but she may be upset and sad an depressed because she felt forced into stopping. And remember that while relactating is possible, it is difficult and not everyone can do it. Don’t tell a mother to pump milk so you can feed the baby. There are other ways to bond with a baby besides feeding him or her. Some mothers can’t pump. Some babies won’t take a bottle.
Breastfeeding is normal. That’s why we have breasts! We are not doing anything unnatural. We are simply feeding our children. Please, if a mother comes to your house, do not shame her into feeding her child in a different room. Do not ask her to cover up (especially don’t say that to me, because I will not hesitate to throw a blanket over your head while you eat). If you’re out in public with her, and her tiny baby gets hungry, please stand tall next to her. Because it’s hard to nurse your baby in public when people think you shouldn’t. Its hard to ignore the looks and the comments. Hold her purse or bag while she settles her young one. And then continue with your business.
Breastfeeding for any length of time is difficult. There are days personally when I just want to hide in the closet and tape my boobs up until they dry up. There are women who have babies who had a hard time latching or who have plugged ducts or battle thrush. There are moms who have to work and cannot pump to meet their babies needs. There are moms who desperately want to nurse their children and they can’t. When you suggest that a mom is doing something wrong, simply by nursing her child, you are doing something detrimental to that woman, that baby, and that relationship.
I’m lucky. My years having and nursing babies have been filled with mothers who are or have nursed their babies. I have had amazing support from all sides if the equation. Without the support of those I love, I wouldn’t have nursed as long as I have. I have not been shamed in private or public for feeding my child. I have not been told that I’m hurting my child psychologically because I nursed him or her. It’s tiring and frustrating to read things every single day about proud nursing mamas being beaten down by the public, and worse, their friends and family simply for giving the best to their baby.
I already know the people I associate with are supportive, but please, support other nursing mamas. Even if it’s a stranger. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Tell her to keep it up. Tell her that what she’s doing is important. Tell her you’re proud of her. Just that little bit of support can make confidence soar.
If you know someone who is a nursing mom, stand up with her. If you are or know someone who is trying to force their agenda on a nursing mom, tell them to stop. Tell them to do research. Tell them that they are not helping. Tell them to let the mama and her baby decide when they are done nursing.
And remember this. If it weren’t for lactating women, none of us would be here today. Formula was not always around. Babies who had mothers who couldn’t nurse and who didn’t have access to wet nurses, died. This is part of what our body was made to do. If we weren’t suppose to breastfeed, our bodies wouldn’t produce milk.
This has been a Public Service Announcement.