Wondering about encouragement...

Alicia - posted on 08/12/2009 ( 12 moms have responded )

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I am not posting this in anyway to be controversial, just voicing some thoughts I have had lately. I am just looking for some friendly discussion and thoughts...
I find in the "breastfeeding camp" there are many people who shout their opinions from the rooftops. There are usually two sides--people who think people should exclusively breastfeed and should do it until the child shows signs of weaning, and there are people who think it is good, but once a child is able to "ask" for it, it is inappropriate, or even after just a few months it is inappropriate. BUT then there are a whole slew of us in the "middle"--I think it is a wonderful thing to breastfeed, I understand the medical and emotional benefits, I am thrilled I did it with my son and hope to do it with all my children. I am committed to it, but I also hope never to judge anyone else's situation. I offer my opinions when asked, but try to be sensitive. If some one wants to nurse well into the toddler years, I applaud that fully; if someone just can't nurse (for whatever reason), I do not make them feel guilty but offer advice and support. I know many people who gave it their all but could not do it. I know people who never tried. I know people who do it for years with great success. I know people who started and then stopped for "personal" reasons. I also know that sometimes, despite those reasons, they may still have been able to nurse but chose not to. The saddest situation are the people who just do not even try because the "vibe" they get from the "breastfeeding world" is not a positive one, but overwhelming and judgmental. I guess I just wish there was a more welcoming feeling overall to those who are unsure, uninformed/misinformed, afraid, hesitant for what ever reason, and I think it starts with those of us who do breastfeed. How do we offer advice, spread knowledge, break the stereotypes--and do it all compassionately and sensitively without making people feel badly? Even within our "circle" there are times when someone asks a question and instead of getting an answer to the question, she is lectured, bombarded with info, and, intentionally or not, judged. We do not always know each other's motivations for stopping "too soon" or weaning "too early," etc, but we are not here to judge--we are here to support and encourage.

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Alicia - posted on 08/16/2009

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Bianca, good for you for not letting the "norms" pressure you into stopping earlier. I am sure the "warm/kind" looks help make the "horrified" ones more tolerable and easier to just let pass without thought. I seriously thought I'd nurse my son for as long as he wanted, no matter what other people said or thought. I was totally committed to it. I never though I would lead the weaning process, but I did!! Right before he turned one, I miscarried, and since my cycles were all off from nursing, I thought I was just getting my period. It was really a quite terrible experience, and I just could not handle not knowing where my body was at at any given time and so I decided to stop--really for me and only me, and I felt guilty for doing it, but it helped that he never seemed to mind. It would have been really hard if he had seemed to miss it, and I probably would have gotten over my fears and started up again. I guess my own experiences make me want to be more aware of what others might be going through. In my case, I was going to nurse "forever" but then life happened and my thoughts changed. You just never really know what someone is really going through when they ask a question and just don't want to make the situation worse than it might be.
Of course, I do firmly believe that it is important to stress the benefits and beauty of nursing and encourage people to try. And also, sometimes what people need is just a little push, a little oomph, to get over a tough spot. Or maybe seeing things from a different angle or getting an idea they had not thought of. Quitting is not always the answer and it is important for others to hear that it might not always be "easy" and "convenient" but it is SO worth giving it a good try!

Mae - posted on 08/16/2009

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i think its VERY important when we give our input we start by saying ITS MY opinion or what WORKS FOR ME , or I FEEL......etc as i know we are well intended etc and yes some may take offense to our approach etc

Bianca (Fred) - posted on 08/16/2009

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Nice topic! I am still feeding my almost 3 year old daughter and I really do beleive in personal choice regarding breastfeeding. I get quite a few looks whilst feeding Bella in public, some warm and kind and others horrified! No matter what choice you make, you will never please everyone but it is important that you are doing what is best for your child, which in most cases is breatsfeeding into toddlerhood. That said, we are so lucky that we live in a day and age where if natural feeding does not go as planned, we have a safe alternative.

Jessica - posted on 08/15/2009

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I figure, hey, whatever... is the child FED. If they are FED and THRIVING.... who cares!!!

Emily - posted on 08/15/2009

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Just wanted to share...



I often read judgmental posts re bf and think I am not judgmental. But then I wonder maybe I am not being honest with myself. Now I know for sure. Today I was at a party and I heard to moms talking. One had a 4 mo old and was asked if she was still bf. She responded that her milk had dried up. I couldn't help but think how hard that must have been...not she should have done something differently or she didn't try hard enough. I was glad to know that I don't judge others...I am the middle of the road person who I thought I was. I feel really good about that!

Etta - posted on 08/15/2009

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I appreciate the zeal of some breastfeeders, but they should realize that there are different degrees (not everyone is as committed as they are). Those of us who are not militant about bfing need to step up and be more vocal with support, encouragement, and information, if we want to be more welcoming to those just starting out.
When I answer questions, I often give my own experiences so that people know where I'm coming from and that I've had some of these same problems. That way I hope to avoid sounding judgmental. Alicia is right, it is so hard to struggle while hearing how easy and natural bfing is. And what's worse, many of the medical professionals who are suppose to help and support us, don't. So, I try to be kind of a cheerleader to those who struggle. We also don't want to scare off people by telling them how hard it can be. It's a fine line.

Alicia - posted on 08/15/2009

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I think it is true, Shahala, that there isn't always a one size fits all answer. For some things in life there really is only one way, but for many of these common "baby issues," it is important to be open minded whether you are the one getting OR giving advice. I had no problems whatsoever breastfeeding my son, so I could easily tell everyone I know it's a piece of cake and they absolutely should do it. But I am careful when talking to others about it b/c it isn't so easy for everyone. I want to encourage them to give it a try and be committed to it, but I also want to be realistic. Plenty of people really struggle with it and I just don't want them to feel any worse about it than they already do. It is very hard for a woman to struggle with breastfeeding because it seems like it should be so easy--after all, woman have done since the beginning of time. That inadequate feeling combined with the guilt that goes along with switching to formula really tears people up. It is sad because, yes, "breast is best," but that doesn't mean formula is some awful alternative.

Shahala - posted on 08/12/2009

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I absolutely agree with you, BUT unfortunately.....people are people. You can substitute spanking, crying it out, co sleeping, processed food etc.instead of breastfeeding and you will get the same agree, disagree and extreme opinions. You can try to educate someone as much as possible who may otherwise have formed an opinion and unless they really want to hear it and learn they arent going to. I dont think there is any possible to create a way to inform people that is "one size fits all."

Elizabeth - posted on 08/12/2009

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I couldn't agree more! I'm lucky -I decided to Bf and nothing anyone said or did was going to change that, with the support I had and my firece determination I succeded. But for those who are unsure, have little or no support or just don't know the facts it can be overwhelming and stressful. Especially with so many people stressing them out more about the importance of it... I think a lot of people did not bf because of this. We do need to break the stereotypes and we do that by being supportive and open to others, we need to realize that we are not failures and our children will survive if bfing doesn't work. For me I just felt that I would not give up until I knew I had done all that I could to make it work and am proud and relieved that I made it -a lot of moms don't make it and need to stop being judged for that. We all know lectures and judgement didn't work when we were teens why should it be any different now?! :)

Sara - posted on 08/12/2009

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I am also a "middle" person as you put it. I love BF and will do it with my next child. But if you feel formula is best then that is what you should do because you have to WANT to do it. If not it will not be a satisfying experience. I only wanted to go 6 months but my son is almost 7 months and I am not ready to give it up yet! I love to help and give advice when needed but I try not to push it. If you are ready to give it up then give it up! Its not good for you or the baby if your heart is not in it.

Emily - posted on 08/12/2009

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Alicia nicely put! Great post. I think that I fall into the same category as you do. I am darn proud of the challenging journey I faced as I nursed my twins (still nursing them 3x a day). I worked hard. I also know that there are not many people who would stick with it had they faced the same challenges I did. I couldn't blame them for that! We all do what we feel is best for our families and we should support one another. I always support my friends who are planning bf and will encourage them to and help them through the hard times but will also support them whatever happens.

Alison - posted on 08/12/2009

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Could not agree with you more!! We all need to remember to be compassionate, caring, helpful and encouraging, not judgemental!! Being a new mom is hard and the reason we are all here is for help and to find those that have gone through something similar, not to be lectured!

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