Before I begin with this post, I want to state that it is in no way intended to offend or make anyone feel guilty for not breastfeeding or for feeling that they were not able to. I recognize that there are many factors that need to come together for a breastfeeding relationship to work and without those pieces it can be nearly impossible.
That being said....
Did you know that just one drop of breastmilk contains 3,000,000 cells for the health of your baby? Just one drop.
There is something going on in our society, something that just isn't right. Women are being told that they don't have enough milk, that their babies are allergic to their milk, that formula is just as good as breastmilk, that babies do not know the difference between the bottle and the breast, that their babies just don't like breastfeeding, that mothers are not wise to their babies, that they should schedule and not feed on cue, that babies are ready to face the world on their own...they should be able to self-soothe don't you know? The list goes on and on and on.
In the process of all of these messages, women are giving up on breastfeeding, a decision that affects not only the baby, but also the mother deeply. We are not supporting mother-infant attachment nor are we supporting the health and well being of either member of the relationship.
Breastfeeding is more than just a transfer of milk from mother to baby. It is a relationship, a way of learning how to mother your baby and respond to their needs. It not only supports the baby's health, well-being, immune system, brain, eye and oral development.....It also supports women by reducing the risk of reproductive cancers, heart attacks and stroke, it helps us to respond to our babies in a loving way (studies have shown that women who are at high risk of committing child abuse are less likely to act in this way while they are breastfeeding) Oxytocin, the love hormone is a magic thing.
I understand that for many women, breastfeeding can be a challenging experience. Really, I get it. It took 5 weeks of hell for me to sort things out with my first child and 2 weeks with my second. The difference between the first and second child was that I was more educated, more experienced and knew where to go for help. My success came from amazing support both from my midwife and my husband, my own determination and good, evidenced based information. I am still breastfeeding my second child and she is nearly 2 1/2. A pretty amazing success.
The thing that is missing for many women is good, consistent information from skilled breastfeeding mothers and lactation professionals. Breastfeeding is not something that is medical and yet it is treated as such so often. By ignoring the emotional aspect of breastfeeding, namely confidence, many women are not supported in the way they need to be in order to successfully breastfeed their children. They are dismissed and discouraged. They are told that they are inadequate and not experts on their babies. While we do need to be careful and aware of how a mum and baby are doing since serious situations can arise, we need to give the ownership of being able to feed one's own baby back to the mother. Women need to be empowered about their abilities, their decisions and their instinct so that they may apply that to all areas of mothering.
Now that H1N1 is upon us, we need to do everything we can for our little ones. Who knew that just one little drop could mean so much.