I attend my local La Leche meetings every month, as long as neither of my kids are sick. Even in the two months before baby number 2 was born and baby number 1 had stopped nursing, I continued to go because I wanted to offer my help to new moms, and be around the old pros to learn what I could. At my most recent meeting, there was a first time mom with a one month old. She had not been to a meeting before, so none of us knew her. She was nursing her one month old son.
And she sobbed.
She sobbed like I’ve never seen anyone at our meeting cry before. Not because she was in pain, or because the baby was sick, but she wept because when her baby was fussy at her breast or cried, her mother would tell her she must have no milk, and fix a bottle of formula for the baby. She just needed support and reassurance from the person she trusted most, her mother, and because she didn’t get it, she was hurting. Badly.
And perhaps it is because I am one month post-partum, or perhaps it is because I could feel her need for love and support through her breastfeeding journey and all the need of other mothers who give up because no-one helps them, that I wept too.
I’m not here to say formula is bad. I’m not here to say formula isn’t needed. I’m not here to say all mothers can breastfeed. I am not here to judge. So please stop the easy task of putting me in a box labelled “formula-haters.”
I am simply here to say, on behalf of this young mother, and all the mothers out there that nurse, whether it’s their first or fifth baby-
We need YOUR support.
We need your kind words, your encouraging words, your words of love and support.
We do not need to hear that if the baby is crying, it must be lack of milk. We do not need to hear that if baby doesn’t sleep for five hours straight, it must be because of the mother’s milk. We do not need to hear that because our breasts look light or small that there is no milk. Because these are all completely untrue, and if you need to be educated on such matters, I would suggest you visit your local La Leche meeting (dads, grandparents, cousins, everyone is welcome!) or visit the Kelly Mom website. If you don’t know facts, please don’t guess.
Be proud of your daughter, wife, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and encourage them in any way you can.They are doing a beautiful and, at times, not-so-easy thing, and you could be the person whose words encourage them to keep going. Your support may be exactly what they need to get them through a difficult growth spurt period.
Don’t want to talk about it? No problem, fix them a glass of water or some snacks, because nursing a baby makes you seriously hungry. Take care of the baby while she showers. Don’t want to see it? No problem, go order take out. Do the laundry. Clean up her home. Is mom having problems? Don’t assume you have the answer, find your nearest IBLCE certified lactation consultant or a local La Leche leader. Call someone who knows what they’re talking about. But please don’t make any unnecessary comments like something is wrong with their body, or with their mothering instinct, because they are giving their child the best thing for their health, their growth, their overall development. This should make you proud.
On behalf of all nursing mothers, I ask that you support us. Because the number one reason why women give up nursing is due to lack of support. And in the 21st century, that is just sad.
Let’s start to change it. Go tell that nursing mom in your life what a wonderful job she’s doing.
Wednesday 26th of April 2017
God help me, I put aside a whole afrtoneon to figure this out.
Tuesday 22nd of January 2013
Thank you Karima! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
Well done Ashley to making it to 3 months! I completely agree with you, hence why I said not all mothers can breastfeed. I hope mothers can be supportive to one another without the put downs :)
Great job Kim! It can be frustrating when people think they are helping, only to hinder something so vital. But it's wonderful to read that you made it despite any setbacks :)
Monday 21st of January 2013
Great article... I am now nursing my third child and with my first, she was born early (7 weeks) and didn't know how to eat. I pumped for six weeks after every feeding. Her and I worked hard to get her from the bottle to the breast... at one point my mother in law was at the house and "offered" to give her a bottle, my husband proceeded to fix it for her and I was more than a little upset to say the least. Her and I was working so hard and because she wanted to "help" out she thought she could just feed her a bottle. At that point, she was nursing some, and the last thing I needed was to have a bottle just freely given to her. A little bit of understanding and compassion would have been wonderful at that point, instead of just assuming it would be easier to give her the bottle. However, am proud to say that my daughter finally got the hang of it and went on to nurse exclusively for 13 months. My son nursed for 15 months and the little one now is 9 months old and will let her go as long as needed. Thanks for a great article!
Sunday 20th of January 2013
I support all the breast feeding mothers out there!i have a lot of respect for those who do and can breast feed. You can do it! But, my only request is that those of us who really couldn't breast feed do to medical issues have the same support from those who can. Putting us formula users down without knowing our situation is also very hard and can make us feel like failures as mothers also. I had to pump exclusively for 3 months do to medical issues I tried hard to give my little one breast milk as long as I could. But sadly had to stop after 3 months. Proud of all those momma's who stay strong and breast feed! Good work!
Thursday 17th of January 2013
Heartfelt and Compassionate article Ladan! I was moved to tears which is rare for me. I wish your message would be read by those unsuspecting grandmas, husbands, doctors and friends whose comments dash a new mother's confidence to bits. Yes, La Leche League is a wonderful means to get in contact with moms like you who will be there and offer help at meetings and on the phone. Our "warm line" is there for anyone to call. This is why we say that breastfeeding is an art passed down from woman to woman. I am very impressed with your blog and happy so many women can benefit from your knowledge and caring spirit.