Breastfeeding. Really. What do you know about it? If you haven't been closely knit to someone who has breastfed a baby, you may have been like me before I had baby T. In fact, breastfeeding is the one aspect of child birth and child rearing that I walked into without instruction, guidance, coaching or experience. Ok, I'll admit, I did check out 2 books from the library, and was shocked to find them under nursing in the non-fiction section after finding nothing on my search of breast feeding. I remember reading one of those books at the pool while catching some sun with my sister the morning before Thomas was born! I'm not sure that it prepared me for what I was birthing into ... but it was reassuring to know that it was waiting for me at home once baby arrived.
Nursing my little baby T has been quite the journey that has evoked amazing feelings from within me ... spanning all extremes, both positive and negative. As time has gone on, I have begun to understand that breastfeeding is one of those things that you learn about as you go, because every baby, every mom, even every boob ... is different! If it weren't for my amazing support groups - La Leche League of South Bend, and the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center's Breast Feeding Support Group - and my desire for knowledge, I don't know if I would have made it five .. almost six months .. nursing my baby, unsure of where the end of our nursing relationship will be. We are just five days away from reaching our second goal - six months of breast feeding! Our next goal is twelve months. With the introduction of solids, it will for sure be an adventure worth blogging about. ;-)
The fuel for my fire this evening comes from two e-mails I received today. Both were from the USBC ... heard of them? United States Breastfeeding Committee. The first was titled "Thanks to You, Breastfeeding is Getting Easier," and it outlined the progress of the USBC throughout 2011. I had clicked a button to send a letter to my congress person to promote opportunities for women who return to work to have the time and space to pump during the work day. This e-mail was even more meaningful after Thomas and I attended our monthly La Leche League meeting and heard about some of the struggles women experience when trying to pump at work. Are you ready for this?
Some women have to pump in the bathroom stall at work. Would you want to eat a meal prepared in a bathroom stall? Would you want to feed it to your baby?
Some women have a hard time pumping because of distractions that occur outside of the room they are aloud to pump in ... yes, stress and distraction impact let down and the overall ability to effectively express milk.
Some women experience a drastic decrease in milk supply once returning to work, resulting in an inability over time to meet baby's needs ...
I'm sure it goes on ... but having never balanced this working-and-breastfeeding experience, I can only empathize with moms who do return to work. I can't imagine struggling through the experience, let alone giving up on what I hold so dear to my heart and my relationship with my baby. The USBC is pushing to improve upon the conditions in which breastfeeding moms return to following their maternity leave ... and given what little I know about pumping at work - pumping in someone else's office outside of the main entrance to the school I worked at? holy distracting - I know it can be great or pretty bad ... but it shouldn't be a stumbling block along a woman's pathway to nurturing her baby.
So yes, breastfeeding has, at times, been a struggle for me ... but no, I can't imagine weaning my child from the breast. It is such a huge part of our relationship that is working well for both of us (See, something I learned from my support groups - breastfeeding is a two-part relationship) despite it's ups and downs, but what relationship doesn't experience ups and downs?
I'll have to post about the 2nd e-mail I received from the USBC this evening ... it may develop into a professional opportunity, or it may not ... so I leave you with that suspense!