So there I am, August 22nd (which also happens to be my birthday), at a breastfeeding event on the eastside. Can you believe it? Although there are many nursing families on the eastside, support for breastfeeding and cultural norms are still scarce when compared to nearby counties like Snohomish. This event was a “Live, Love, Latch On” family picnic presented by The Perfect Push and La Leche League of Kirkland and Greater Seattle.
As a midwife and nursing mother of two, I was excited to see an event that supports breastfeeding without the guilt and pressure sometimes felt by breastfeeding communities. This event was for anyone who supports breastfeeding… nursing not required. Finally an event that recognizes all those partners out there who are quite often up through the night too. Those partners who know how to make a bottle, with both formula and breast milk, who help hold our nursing covers, or if we are less shy, go right along staring down anyone who seems like they are uncomfortable with our chosen form of feeding.
This event was for anyone who feels like if a parent chooses to nurse their child, they should be able to do so without stigma. The most refreshing part of the event was the differences in feeding styles. The youngest little nursling present was 3 weeks old and the oldest was 4 years old. There were single couplets and tandem nursing families. There were mothers using supplemental nursing systems (a fun tube system that allows mothers to give their child milk or extra milk if they have low or no production but still want their babies at the breast), and bottle-fed infants both with breast milk and formula.
In typical American fashion, there are so many options available. As parents it is so easy to get caught up in the “what’s best” marathon, because we all want what is best for our child. What I try to educate my patients and role model as a parent, is a “what’s best for you,” attitude. Each family is made up of unique individuals that have their own personalities, needs, schedules, backgrounds, cultures, support systems, ect. What is best for one family might not be the best option for another.
Am I saying breast milk is not great? No, I am a midwife and full term breastfeeder, but my situation is different from others. I am also not here to say it’s this beautiful, magical moment that will forever bond your child to you. It can be hard and yes, even inconvenient at times. In all honesty, there are times I hate it! But for me the good times, still outweigh the bad, and if it works, stick to it.
As with every parenting decision, do what works for your situation, and advocate for yourself. If you want to nurse, build a support system and start early with your planning. It’s much easier to plan how pumping in the workplace will look when you are still pregnant. Even better, stand by that soon to be parent that is asking before you. There is strength in numbers. You would be surprised how many men out there are supportive once you start looking. Events like “Live, Love, Latch On” provide a great service to our community by supporting all the choices available to us. Hope to see you next year!
– Midwife Momma