There are so many wonderful blogs out there by moms who are breastfeeding, who are supporting breastfeeding moms and working actively to promote and protect breastfeeding in our culture. It’s hard to say another blog is needed.
But I am saying another is needed. Perhaps I need it, I do have a different perspective than many. I last breastfed a baby in 1978. Before that it was 1972 and before that in 1971. If you are into statistics, you may notice that those were the years at the lowest point of breastfeeding initiation in US history.
Karen Pryor’s Breastfeeding Your Baby and, of course, La Leche League’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding were my handbooks. I didn’t find a LLL group until I was on my third baby and busy with two other kids in school. I was already successful; in fact, I don’t remember ever having considered the idea that breastfeeding wouldn’t work.
I expected breastfeeding to work and knew I was pretty much on my own; I didn’t see or hear support from anywhere else. (Except my husband Ken who once commented, “Breastfeeding won’t get far until someone can make a living at it.”) Knowing what I know now, I would have fed my firstborn more often. I think she was hungry at times that first week; she hadn’t regained her birthweight by our 2-week doctor visit. I had a very breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician for the time: she didn’t insist we add formula…she prescribed rice cereal! So our first baby had rice cereal and breastmilk and nothing more for the first few months. We may have deprived her, or it may have been in her genes; she is still a size 5, but has a boy of her own now.
The kids grew and we went on with the busyness of making a life. In 1994, as our oldest finished college, I rediscovered my passion for breastfeeding. We found opportunity in a breast pump rental station. I wasn’t a nurse, nor a LLL leader, nor a lactation consultant: the pump company wasn’t sure they wanted to let us represent them, but we prevailed. Five years later, I sat for the IBCLC exam. Passing that exam was more exciting for me than my college degree years ago.
More mothers breastfeed now than in 1971, but I have been astonished at how many barriers there still are to breastfeeding. My dream is that by the time my now 9-year old granddaughter is ready for her time to breastfeed, it will truly be the norm. I am delighted at the opportunity to be part of this change. I am encouraged by the amazing amount of scientific data there is now to support breastfeeding as the optimum nutrition for babies. We’ve just got to get breastfeeding into the realm of normal. While I am an activist at heart, I am best as a teacher. I hope my blog can be a teaching resource for moms as together we work toward making breastfeeding their norm.