Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Fanatical Breastfeeder: Part 1

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I have to break this up into two posts, because the subject is just too big!

This week I have been on vacation in Atlantic Beach, near Jacksonville. Penelope has received lots of attention from the other guests. One woman, struck up a conversation with me by saying how beautiful Penelope was. She went on to say that the reason she was here at the hotel, was because her daughter-in-law had just given birth six days ago and they were visiting their new grand baby. Me, being me, I responded with: "Congratulations! How is Mama and baby doing? How is breastfeeding going?" To which she replies with: "Oh, breastfeeding has been a nightmare, she can't get the baby to latch and now she is pumping all day and all night, getting no rest and she is having a hard time with her supply." I say, "I am so sorry to hear that, I know exactly how she feels, I had to pump, and in fact, I still pump 3 times a day for Penelope even though she can comfort nurse now. I remember how tired I was and how I thought, I hate all those people who say sleep when the baby sleeps, because I never could, I was always pumping." She then says, "I just don't understand why she is putting herself through all that, my daughter recently had a baby as well and she is giving her baby formula and her life is so much easier." And I replied, very casually, with not a fanatical tone in my voice, "Oh, because breastfeeding so good for the babies, what it does for their health it makes it worth it." She then says, super nasty, "Yeah, that is what all you breastfeeders say, you all are so fanatical about it. Women in my generation (she was in her mid-fifties, I'd say) didn't breastfeed and our kids turned out fine." I didn't really process quick enough that she just called me fanatical for choosing to breastfeed, so I didn't give her the response I should have. I simply switched the subject and started talking about things her daughter-in-law could do to increase her supply and left it at that.

I have thought about this poor mom all day, hoping to run into her mother-in-law again so I could offer her my left over milk stash, since I don't have a freezer here and it will go to waste. I am so mad at myself for not thinking quick enough to offer it right then and there, then she would have really thought I was a fanatical breast feeder!

While I do consider myself pretty fanatical about my determination and dedication to keep pumping in order to give Penelope my breast milk. I choose to breast feed to give Penelope breast milk for its health benefits (and for bonding, but more about that in the next post). Health benefits, discovered by massive amount of scientific research. I made an educated and informed decision to breast feed, i.e. not a fanatical one. I also don't get in people's face about it. I like to vent and share my joys about my breastfeeding experience on Facebook, but I am not wildly waving my hands in the air and yelling on a street corner to get people to breastfeed. One of the reasons I was so sad that Penelope couldn't nurse at first, is because I was excited to nurse in public. It was going to be my quiet, peaceful demonstration to the world. Part of the reason I am who I am today, is because of the positive women/mama role models I have come across in the last 10 years, not fanatics in the least. Before I even became a Doula, I was dating a guy in college, who's older sister was a total AP, BF'ing, co-sleeping mama. I saw her quietly sling her baby and breastfeed on demand. I saw how peaceful she and her baby were. I made the decision then and there, not even 20 years old then, that I was going to mother like that. She was not fanatical. She was just going on about her business and being a mother. And yet she made a huge impact on me.

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Blogger Kbroadway said...

Great post and I agree with everything especially the breastfeeding on demand, baby wearing and co sleeping = Happy babies!!
Ask anyone who knows my 2 and they were/are pleasantly plump and happy happy babies!!

June 17, 2010 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I love it!!!! It gave me goosebumps :)

June 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Great post! I totally understand your struggle with pumping and the joy you feel in finally being able to breastfeed. I was pulling for you and praying for you and I am so happy that you are finally able to enjoy that special bond with Nela. :)

June 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Brittany said...

I am loving your blog! I happened across it from Prudent Baby... and you're completely opening up my mind to all these wonderful things in the world of mama and baby. I love that you're willing to share your journey so honestly. We're thinking about trying for our first baby within the next year, and you're a great role model. Keep up the great posts!

June 17, 2010 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Stephanie B. Cornais said...

Thanks for the positive feedback, ladies!

@Brittany... Weclome! So excited that you have started to explore and educate yourself BEFORE you become pregnant. 9 months is not enough time to get things figured out!

June 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Tara said...

You go girl! Wish I could have been there to back you up! : )

June 18, 2010 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger eidolons said...

I'm nursing two little ones - an almost two-year-old and an almost two-month-old. I'm used to the strange (and often disgusted) looks that I get when I nurse in public these days. I've been known to cheer when I see another mother nursing in public.

Happily I've never had to pump, though we did have problems with nursing my first child (mostly user error - but I was only 21 and didn't know any better). People probably see me as fanatic (extended breastfeeding, baby/toddler wearing, cosleeping, cloth diapering, homeschooling). But I'm okay with that. I'm doing what's best for my kids, for myself, for my family.

June 18, 2010 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger Celeste said...

Hi Stephanie,
My husband and I took your Birthing From Within class almost three years ago. It was incredibly empowering for us. We had our son at the birth cottage and hope to have a home birth with the next baby! I love this post. I too am passionate and, some might say fanatical, about breastfeeding. I am still breastfeeding my 2.5 year old. I hope to catch up with you sometime in Tallahassee. I am glad to know about your blog! Love, Celeste

June 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Stephanie B. Cornais said...

Celeste! So happy to hear from you! Are you pregnant now? I am so happy to hear you are still breastfeeding. I tell my friends that Penelope can nurse till she is 7, if she wants to, since we had such a hard time with it and I missed out on the first 5 months (and still miss out on it to extent even now.) :)
P.S. My friend Lindsey is taking over the BFW classes for me, her website is

June 19, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I had a real struggle with breastfeeding the first two and a half months - it seems like everything that could go wrong did :-) However, I was determined to stick with it and not give up, no matter what. I am so glad that I did - we are almost six months into breastfeeding and I can't imagine it any other way! The key to our success was the support from family, other local mothers, and some wonderful lactation consultants. When I think of not having that support, I imagine that me and my baby's breastfeeding outcome would have been very different. I have not yet received any negative comments or been in any uncomfortable situations while nursing in public, but I hope that if I do, I can respond without losing my temper :-)

June 21, 2010 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Stephanie B. Cornais said...

Good for you, Rachel! I think being determined to breastfeed is a big part of success. Peter and I made up our minds a long time ago that formula was just not going to be an option for us, and that makes it easier to forge ahead.

June 21, 2010 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Niiicola said...

Ugh, how awful. I'm EPing like you (found your blog through the Yahoo EPers group) and I've found that a lot of women around that age can also be pretty rude about not BFing in public. Many times I've been out with my daughter in a restaurant/cafe, and some random women will be oohing and ahing at her from another table, then as soon as I get the bottle out, I get disapproving stares and then they stop looking over. I just want to wave the bottle and yell, "It's breastmilk!" but the rational part of me knows that it's not worth caring about judgmental jerks. Sigh. Some day this will all be a distant memory, right?

January 7, 2011 at 11:38 AM  
Blogger Mama And Baby Love said...

Hi Niiicola!! Glad you came to check the blog out, welcome!

I used to get those same looks when Penelope was younger. I don't seem to get them anymore for some reason...maybe its because its more socially acceptable (among breastfeeders) to use a bottle with an older baby? I don't know. But those look were the worst!! Here we are busting our asses, to breastfeed and they don't even have a clue. I would always restrain myself from yelling, Its BREASTMILK BITCHES!!!

January 7, 2011 at 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

I found your blog through a post on Pinterest and am so glad I did. I can't stop reading! I am currently pregnant and plan to breastfeed. I am so thankful for all of your insight. I am not even breast feeding yet, (obviously because I'm still pregnant) but thing I find the most frustrating is the lack of support for it especially by other women! What's up with that?

January 13, 2012 at 11:14 PM  

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