We’ve know that breastfeeding is the best way to give your child a healthy start. For some women, breastfeeding is easier than for others. Whether it is family pressure, bad medical advice, hormonal issues, a “difficult” baby, or some other reason – many women have a tougher time with breastfeeding than others. Some “breastfeeding bullies” are those who have an easy time with breastfeeding or who were able to breastfeed as long as they wished despite difficulties. Often though, we are the ones who bully ourselves about breastfeeding.
Every day that you breastfeed your child is a miracle and a blessing to both of you. I love to see moms who are able to provide this great nutrition and bonding for their kids. It saddens me to see so many moms who think they can’t breastfeed or that they should not even bother to try if they have had problems in the past. Worse, I see so many moms who beat themselves up if they are unable to breastfeed as long as they would like.
Bullying yourself is no better than bullying someone else. If you have problems with breastfeeding, seek out support. But first of all, be kind to yourself! Stress is a major reason for breastfeeding problems – so stressing yourself out is not cool. Being mean to yourself is even worse.
Do your research – there are so many good breastfeeding resources. I’ll touch on some of those later this week. No matter what, be kind to your baby’s mom!
In my business, I see a lot of moms with young babies or those who are pregnant. Many times when the topic of breastfeeding comes up, moms will act embarrassed or show great sadness when saying that they are unable to breastfeed. For some this is probably true. I say probably, because it is actually a very small percentage of women who truly can not breastfeed at least part time. More commonly, the problem is bad medical advice from doctors or nurses who tell moms that they are not producing enough milk. In some cases this is true and there are many ways to increase milk supply. For other women, they are just not getting the support they need from family, friends and others who can help.
My own daughter was a bit of a nightmare to breastfeed. The first 4 days she refused to nurse because at first the milk did not come fast enough for her wishes – then she just refused to try. Then she had tummy issues due to my dairy intake. Once we got that sorted out I had milk supply issues due to my mother’s illness and other family stressors.
Then she got teeth – four of them by her 6 month birthday! It hurt to nurse so she bit me and refused to nurse at all. Under other circumstances I might have been able to pump through her nursing strike. For me, with the major stress I was under at that time, I was unsuccessful in keeping my milk supply and we had to go to formula feeding.
What is funny is that instead of feeling proud of having fed my baby for 6 months, I feel sad because she weaned herself 6 months earlier than I wished. I am my own breastfeeding bully, feeling guilty for not fixing the situation somehow. My daughter is almost 5. An amazing, secure, healthy and confident child – but I still feel guilty for not being perfect in this one thing. (Not that I am so perfect in all the rest!)
My advice to other moms? Do whatever you can to make breastfeeding successful. I worked with two different lactation consultants, her pediatrician, and pumped as much as possible to keep things going until she figured it out. Without all that, we would not have made it through the first week. However it is so important to be kind treat yourself with respect and be gentle with yourself, if, despite your best efforts breastfeeding does not go the way you planned.
I am participating in Mothering Magazines breastfeeding blogs series – check it out here http://www.mothering.com/community/a/blog-about-breastfeeding-and-win