Back when I was a nursing mom I had a bumper sticker on my car that said "I support Breastfeeding." Some helpful coworkers put a piece of athletic tape over the feeding part and wrote enlargement instead. I was so not offended by it. In fact, when I finally noticed it, I guffawed out loud.
Besides, breastfeeding does cause breast enlargement, so largely...the same thing. Man, when I was nursing my kids, I had - to borrow the vernacular - HUGE KNOCKERS.
One of my favorite pictures from when my son was little is this picture of my daughter:
She's "nursing" her baby doll on my extra boppy.
In my twenties I could not have imagined breastfeeding. My sister in law used bottles as did all my friends that I knew who were parents. I babysat a couple of times for my boss and his wife when their youngest was an infant and they left me bottles of expressed milk, but I never actually saw anyone feed their baby from their breast.
By the time I was in my mid-thirties and pregnant with my first, things had changed. Many of my adult friends were or had been nursing mothers, a few were La Leche league leaders. Someone from work gave me a Dr. Sears baby book and just like that, I was introduced to the concept of attachment parenting. I was hooked from the beginning.
A lot of things about breastfeeding surprised me. I knew all the benefits, but no one really prepared me for cracked and bleeding nipples, painfully engorged breasts, a jaundiced baby, mastitis, poor latch - and yes, all of those things happened to me while nursing one or the other of my children. But we got through all of that. We got through me returning to work. I was so lucky to have supportive employers who provided me with a place to pump and adjusted break schedules so that I would have enough time. I had daycare providers who weren't used to getting bottles and sippy cups with breastmilk in them, but they worked with me. I had a mother and a mother-in-law who were both adoptive parents and knew next to nothing about breastfeeding, but they supported me 1000%. We learned together.
I learned to be brave about nursing my baby in public and I learned to stare right back at the people who thought maybe I should be hiding in a bathroom stall while I did it. I made a mental collection of random quotes to support my right to feed my baby wherever, whenever:
Would you fix your baby's bottle in a toilet stall? No? Then I won't nurse my baby there either.
Do you eat your sandwich while sitting on a toilet?
Breasts are for feeding babies.
Cows milk is for cows. Breast milk is for babies.
Where I live, in Washington State, the 2011 breastfeeding survey indicates that 89% of mothers breastfeed their babies to begin with, and at 6 months, 60% of mothers are still nursing. Those are pretty awesome numbers.
Breastfeeding isn't for everyone. All families have to decide what works best for them. I support the right of every mother to choose how she feeds her baby, whether via breast or bottle. But I hope every woman who is thinking about whether or not breastfeeding will work for her or if it is worth the effort will consider the following:
Breastfeeding is good for babies AND mothers.
Human milk is the superior food for babies. Breastmilk is more easily digestible than cow's milk, and it has antiviral and antibacterial properties that cannot be found in formulas.
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. N Eng J Med 1994; 330: 81-87
Women who were breastfed as babies have a lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Freudenheim, J. et al. 1994 "Exposure to breast milk in infancy and the risk of breast cancer". Epidemiology 5:324-331
Breastfeeding helps stimulate the release of oxytocin in the body, which contributes to mom's sense of well being and assists with mother-infant bonding.
Breastfeeding helps protect children against diseases like Crohn's, juvenile diabetes, allergies and more. Six months of breastfeeding is like giving your child a booster shot against poor health.
August 1-7 2011 is World Breastfeeding Week. Support breastfeeding moms everywhere.