Friday, August 1, 2014

World Breastfeeding Week 2014

Gotta love the internet.  Bet you didn't know there was a National Cheesecake Day (which was this week), A National Eye Exam Month (which is August, incidentally), or a National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (which is tomorrow, so eat up!).  The internet also told me that today starts World Breastfeeding Week, which is always the first week of August.

For those that know me, or those that have read my blog, you are probably questioning why I am posting about Breastfeeding Week, considering my hate/hate relationship with breastfeeding.

I have been very up front about my struggles with breastfeeding.  It was the single hardest and worst experience of my life.  I don't say that lightly, and I don't say that to pass judgement on those that do breastfeed their child(ren).

I, in fact, support breastfeeding 100%.  I strongly believe that it is the absolute best way to feed your baby.  The positives of breastfeeding are well documented.  There is much information out there about all of the benefits of breastmilk, both to mother and baby.  Boosts immunity, less issues with colic/reflux, helps mothers lose weight faster...  This much most mothers or mothers to be know.  So breastfeeding your baby is a no brainer, right?  Wrong.

I think part of Breastfeeding Week should be education around the difficulties of breastfeeding.  Being up front about the hardships that mothers WILL face in those early weeks.  The pain, the cracked nipples, the bleeding, the engorgement, the fact that you will be lucky to get 1-2 hours of sleep in between feedings while recovering from giving birth.  Those are the facts of breastfeeding.  They aren't pretty, but they are real.  And it's time that we empower new mothers (first time or otherwise) with the information that it is going to be hard and it is going to kick them in the butt, but that if they possibly can, just to hang on a little longer.  Just give it one more day.  And then one more day.  Hopefully, as the days progress, things will get easier.  The pain will lessen hopefully, the process will become more routine.  

But if they can't give it one more day, if the pain is too great, or their recovery is too hard, and they can't bear the burden alone, then those mothers should not be shunned or looked down upon.  Those mothers should be celebrated as well,  because sometimes you have to make those hard decisions that you may not want to make.  

To those mothers that are breastfeeding, I celebrate and commend you.  You have made a wonderful choice for yourself and your child.  To those mothers that tried to breastfeed, but couldn't, I commend you and have been in your shoes.  We wanted to, I know we did, but as I remember saying to myself, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  But we are not weak. No matter if we use formula or breastfeed, or maybe a little of both, we are strong women, raising our children to be loved, strong young men and women.  

So rather than looking at World Breastfeeding Week as a time of exclusion, since I myself am not a breastfeeding mother, I choose to look at it as a time of togetherness.  A time to come together as mothers to celebrate a difference between us, some breastfeeding and some not, rather than letting that difference divide us.  

Lastly, to breastfeeding mothers during this World Breastfeeding Week, take a few moments while feeding your baby and realize that there are many women in the world who envy you in that moment.  Women who long to breastfeed.  Women who long to be mothers.  For some, maybe it isn't a possibility, but for you it is.  That is a wonderful gift, something to be cherished while you still can.  This Tired, Happy Mama will always envy that you were able to have that gift and that I wasn't.  

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