This Is Why I Do It

Peanut has a best friend—let’s call her Squeed for the purposes of this blog because that’s what her mommy calls her. Squeed is my best friend’s daughter. She’s almost two years older than Peanut, but they have a ton of fun together. Peanut says her name. She gets excited if I ask her if she wants to go play with her. She’s happy playing with other kids, but Squeed is by far her favorite to play with.

Even with them living so far away, we try to get together on a regular basis. This is once every week or two, sometimes more. Quite often when we do hang out with them it’s all day long since it’s such a trek for them to get here. This means Squeed often sees Peanut breastfeeding.

At first I felt a little awkward about it. Not because of breastfeeding in front of Squeed, but because I know that my friend didn’t breastfeed Squeed for very long. I’ve often wished that I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now and help Squeed’s mama because I know she wanted to breastfeed. In hindsight I can clearly see all of the booby traps the hospital and our society put in her way.

My worry was unneeded. She immediately made it abundantly clear that she not only supported my breastfeeding Peanut, but she was happy about it. I guess I spend so much time on the internet battling people who are anti-breastfeeding (or at least anti-NIP) that I forgot that not everyone who bottle-feeds hates breastfeeding. (Actually, it seems like most moms who bottle-fed (or -feed) don’t hate breastfeeding, but that’s another topic for another day.)

We quickly fell back into our routine as friends. We were the exact same people, just with different priorities. We started hanging out pretty frequently and my worries of breastfeeding in front of them quickly fell not only to the side, but entirely off the chart. I didn’t even have a second thought when breastfeeding around them. It stopped crossing my mind that I was breastfeeding in front of them at all. I just did it like I would any other time—often not even realizing I was feeding her until letdown.

One day when they were over a couple of weeks ago, I was asking Peanut if she wanted to lay down and have some milk (it was time to go to bed). As she’s following me into the room, I hear Squeed say something along the lines of “Mommy, can I have milk from your boobies too?”

Seriously?! ZOMG that’s awesome!

Her mommy gave her a quick explanation that she didn’t have milk in her boobies and that was that. Squeed gave up on the quest and continued to get ready for bed. Or at least she gave up on the quest for the time being. Apparently Squeed as asked her mom a couple more times for “milk from her boobies like Dea”. At first this just seemed hilarious and awesome, then I realized there’s a deeper meaning.

Normalizing breastfeeding. I think root of all breastfeeding problems is normalizing breastfeeding. If breastfeeding was the norm, there would be proper support for new moms to succeed at it. If breastfeeding was the norm, no one would care about nursing in public. If breastfeeding was the norm, formula would be used as a substitute for breastfeeding like it’s supposed to be. In the past, I’ve used the need to normalize breastfeeding as my confidence booster to nurse in public in situations where I feel awkward.

So I don’t know why it took me so long to get it—I am normalizing breastfeeding for Squeed. Yeah, she probably won’t remember me breastfeeding Peanut when she’s old enough to become a mommy herself, but subconsciously she will. Maybe she’ll grow up without the notion that breastfeeding is weird or gross. Maybe it will just seem like another part of life to her. That’s all I can really hope for.

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6 thoughts on “This Is Why I Do It

  1. Hi! So I have a question for you;

    I bottle feed (because I never figured out how to get my baby to latch on) exclusivly pumped milk. I’ve tried to minimize the problems that comes with with using bottles, so we use glass bottles.
    Last week my LO turned one year old, and now wondering if she is too old for a bottle? If she were getting my BM from me, I wouldn’t worry about it, but she is not, she’s getting it from a bottle. How old is too old for bottle? I don’t want to transition her to sippy cups because of what you said in an earlier post about it causing speech problems, so what if I used a cup and straw? Could I get a glass cup, or a stainless steel cup? What would you do?

    • Honestly, I stopped giving Peanut bottles a long time ago. She was fed pumped milk when I went to school when she was tiny, but after that only rarely when grandparents were watching her and what not, so it wasn’t even really an issue as she got older. I’m not entirely sure when you’re “supposed to” stop bottles. I know that it’s unhealthy for a three year old to use a bottle, but I’m unsure about a one year old. I do know that you can stop giving a baby formula at one year, but if you’re happy to continue giving your toddler pumped breastmilk beyond one year I would definitely say you should do it. Why not give your toddler the same benefits that she had when she was a baby?

      I would say research mouth formation/speech development and bottles and see if they give a better definition of what age you should stop. If it is indeed time to stop, you still have a lot of options. When Peanut was six months old and we started solid foods, we gave her water in a normal cup at mealtimes. I wouldn’t suggest just handing your child the cup and letting them go at it (though some people do do this, but it would be a shame if she spilled all your breastmilk on the table on accident). We would always hold the cup for Peanut and she would put her mouth on it and we’d tip it for her. They also make “sippy cups” that are a straw instead of the normal sippy cup top. It took some effort for Peanut to understand the straw part, but it’s totally worth it. We exclusively use those now. I’ve seen sippy straw cups that are stainless steel. I think on the Green Baby Bargains website.

      • I’m not sure when I’m “supposed to” either. It’s a puzzle: I want her to get the milk for as long as she possibly can (well into her toddler years) but I don’t want her to be using the device she gets it from for much longer.

        I tried giving her a straw and she really didn’t know how to suck on it, which didn’t surprise me since you posted about how long it took peanut. I think I will look for those stainless steel straw “sippy cups” and teach her to use those. When she masters it, then I will take away her bottle.

        Thanks so much for the wonderful, detailed answer! It’s so nice to know I have support!

  2. This is such a fab post! It made me all goosebumpy! I feel the same about breastfeeding and homebirth – and I love that my younger sister has been able to witness it all and has gone from a pro-hospital, only ever used formula (she’s a childminder) person to really asking questions that shows me she’s really thinking about it for her own, when they come along.

    If my nieces/nephews are the only other people who ever benefit from the house I put in to all this, then that’s okay too.

    Great post.

  3. I love this post! I often wondered if other moms would object to me nursing in front of their kids. Most of my friends had breastfed babies said go for it. I think it’s natural for kids to be curious about what a baby is doing attached to a boob! So we should be able to tell then the truth and explain why, not hide it from them.

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