The Fanatical Breastfeeder: Part 1
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.