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Thank you, Mom! - Mo's Journal
June 13th, 2008
10:10 am

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Thank you, Mom!
Have I ever mentioned here that I'm a lactivist (breastfeeding activist)? I haven't breastfed in a lot of years, so it's not so much a focus of mine at the moment, but it's still something I believe in strongly.

I think exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and extended breastfeeding in combination with food as long as the baby/child wants to nurse is one of the few parental no-brainers. In so many parenting decisions we weigh the benefits and the risks of two or more choices and never know for sure whether we decided correctly. With breastfeeding vs. formula (except for situations like adopted children, children of HIV+ mothers, children with mothers undergoing chemo, children without mothers) all the risks are on the formula said and all the benefits on the breastfeeding side.

My ex and I both breastfed all three of our kids (she used an SNS to feed Doran with my milk when I was at work). I breastfed for a total of 8+ years, which is pretty good considering I only gave birth to two out of my three kids. I pumped breast milk for a year with the oldest and youngest. I have funny stories about pumping on jury duty and other Adventures in Breastfeeding. Zara and I attended the 1999 La Leche League International Conference in Orlando, where she was not unusual in being a breastfeeding four-year-old (she referred to it as the "mommy milk conference").

I say that all by way of introduction. I read the following in this morning's New York Times, in the obituary for Edwina Froelich, one of the founders of La Leche League:

"We didn't have any information," said Mrs. Tompson, another of the original group of seven La Leche League founders. "There weren't any books out there, and women just didn't talk about these things. Only 18 percent of women in the U.S. left the hospital breast-feeding at that time."

The time was 1956. I was really struck by it because I was the second child in my family, born in 1955, and all of us were breastfed (birth years of 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1953 and 1970). She didn't breastfeed like I did or like I would recommend. She had "relief bottles" of formula and only breastfed each of us for 6-9 months. But I give her huge credit for doing something so important at a time when few did.

Thank you, Mom!

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From:notmonica
Date:June 13th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
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You are so right! Kudos to your Mom!

My mother bottle fed us (my sister and I, both born in the 60's) because "that's what Jackie Kennedy did" (I swear to you this is what she told me) even though she was an RN and probably knew at least SOME of the benefits. Spparently breastfeeding was considered to be the low-brow/poor/trashy choice at that time. *eyerolls*

I am a HUGE breastfeeding advocate! It's biospecific food. But I do understand that it is difficult initially and isn't "for" everyone (but I really encourage everyone to try and to NOT GIVE UP too early). Anyway, I breast fed my two for a total of...four years.
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From:mofic
Date:June 13th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
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Apparently breastfeeding was considered to be the low-brow/poor/trashy choice at that time. *eyerolls*

I think it definitely was - and I share you in the eyeroll. Now the more educated and affluent women are the ones more likely to breastfeed, but it was the reverse then. So yes, kudos to my well-educated parents for bucking the trend.
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From:cherrypin_up
Date:June 13th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
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It's amazing how it's not just obvious to everyone who's given birth to just put to breast and leave them there! All three times something prevented us from going on so we only got six years for three kids combined. I miss it incredibly sometimes, though they're much too old for something like that. And it's so much easier than preparing and heating a bottle at 2 am, which I found when babysitting overnight.

I can remember emergency feeding at the mall, sticking Michaela under a huge sweater I was wearing. She popped out one arm and was swinging it around. Everyone passing looked at me like I was smothering her.

My mom breastfed me for 3 weeks. It was 1972 and after 3 weeks of "advice" and badgering (being told that her milk wasn't good enough) she did what she thought was best and weened me to homemade formula. I'm sad for her because of that. We both missed some important things there.

BTW, Michaela called it "Booby Juice". :-D We have video of her nursing while I'm having contractions with Gabriel.
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From:mofic
Date:June 13th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
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I think when we first "met" you noticed that I had characters who were extended breastfeeders.

We always said "mommy milk" so that's what the kids said. Doran recently said something that included that phrase and I suggested he switch to "human milk" or "breast milk" at his age.
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From:cherrypin_up
Date:June 13th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
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That's true. I think in responding to your stories we found a lot of common ground.

I'm not sure where she got "Booby Juice", probably from the ex. Men, you know. The big boy is getting too grown up? I find "human milk" funny, for some reason. Like distancing it from the mother, almost like something you could buy in a bottle at the store.
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From:mofic
Date:June 13th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
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I hope I didn't come across as critical of those who were unable to breastfeed longer when I said I wouldn't recommend mixed feeding or early weaning. I think we need a breastfeeding culture - what you say about making breastfeeding in public is part of it - and that more will succeed if we truly develop that culture. This week's MMWR, for example, has an article about progress towards providing a breastfeeding-friendly atmosphere in hospitals and birth centers (Excerpt: "Maternity practices in hospitals and birth centers throughout the intrapartum period, such as ensuring mother-newborn skin-to-skin contact, keeping mother and newborn together, and not giving supplemental feedings to breastfed newborns unless medically indicated, can influence breastfeeding behaviors during a period critical to successful establishment of lactation.")

There will always be babies who can't be breastfed, or who can't have breastmilk for a long time, but there will be fewer if we have the supports - cultural, medical, educational - in place to facilitate breastfeeding as the norm.
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From:davidfcooper
Date:June 13th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
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I breast fed for three weeks, and then the MD told my mom that her milk was thin, and I was undernourished. My allergies would probably be less severe had she breast fed me longer.
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From:mofic
Date:June 13th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
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And if she had gotten good information, she probably would have been able to.
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From:roxymissrose
Date:June 13th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
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I think the main advantage of breast-feeding was the amazing convenience for me. I loved it! I adjusted my shopping so that my kid and I went places that had big comfy bathrooms (thanks JC Penney for the lovely fat armchairs), had a vicious glare for anyone who looked like they weren't happy I was feeding my baby there. Going out, all I had to bring was emergency clothing change, toys and me. We breastfeed until about 6-7 months, when she decided she wanted what we were eating. All in all, it worked out just great. I never had any of the problems a lot of first time moms did--not at all. The doctor told me at her first check-up that she was the first breast fed baby he'd seen that gained weight(so much weight,lol!). Thank goodness, I'd been spared lots of breast-feeding horror stories, so maybe that was part of what made it work for us.
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From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:June 14th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
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This gives me something to thank MY mother for. She breastfed all five of us, for about a year each, except for me. I have always thought thanks were due to her doctor, who wouldn't prescribe any of the things which were fashionable in those days (which included thalidomide and tranquilizers). he recommended hot, unprocessed grains for breakfast(as opposed to cold cereal, which was a vacation treat only) and other nutritionally "radical" ideas. I'm pretty sure he also advised her to breastfeed. he was very oldfashioned -- and so in our pre-adolescence, we were five healthy kids.

(At six months, I had cerebral meningitis and was in icu almost six weeks. Breastfeeding was out of the question in the hospital's perspective.)
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From:ringthebells
Date:June 14th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
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I'm now at 7.5 months of exclusive breastfeeding and counting. My hope is that someday he'll start eating some solid food....
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