Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breastfeeding resolutions

Welcome to the January Carnival of Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding Goals

This month we're bringing you posts on the topic of New Year's breastfeeding resolutions. Be sure to check out the links at the end for the other participants' posts.


Mother and Child 1893, Mary CassattI don't know that I've ever had quantifiable breastfeeding goals, such as "breastfeed till X months old." Certainly, when my son was born, my goal in general was to breastfeed, period. I stuck with it through a rocky beginning because it was so important to me.

Now that Mikko's 19 months old, I hadn't really reconsidered my goals for breastfeeding. I think it might be that I've never been attuned to the word "goals" in terms of breastfeeding, because it sounds like feeding your baby's something to accomplish, something about the mother's success or failure. I guess I think of my goals for breastfeeding as more of a vision. Even before giving birth, for years I've had a picture in my mind of breastfeeding my baby whenever and as often as he desired and for as long as he chose.

That vision has always informed my practical goals. To breastfeed successfully long term, I knew I needed certain elements in place, so I put in the time and arranging needed to meet these goals:

     * I checked out books from the library on breastfeeding and watched videos online, since I hadn't had much chance otherwise to see breastfeeding in action or understand the facts and mechanics. (Here are some good online resources: kellymom, Dr. Jack Newman, Ask Dr. Sears, and here are a couple of the many excellent books on the subject: The Nursing Mother's Companion, by Kathleen Huggins, and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, by Dr. Jack Newman.)
     * I read supportive blogs (see some of my favorite blogs in the links at the side, or visit the other participants in the carnival below) and joined online forums of like-minded parents (such as mothering dot community) to start off with positive impressions about the breastfeeding relationship and to have any concerns and questions answered.
     * We chose midwives to attend our birth who encourage breastfeeding, one of whom is a lactation consultant.
     * Sam and I traded in our queen-size bed for a king-size mattress on the floor, ignoring our families' well-meant suggestions to buy both a bedframe and a crib. We knew exclusive breastfeeding would mean feeding at night, and I wanted the baby near so it would be convenient.
     * So that I could keep getting good sleep, I found resources in books and online that showed me how to breastfeed lying down, along with guidance from the nurses and midwives. (Here are an instruction sheet and a video.) That way, I can just roll toward my baby, barely waking either of us up.
     * I practiced ways to nurse comfortably in public, not covering up but not making myself feel embarrassed at baring more than I'd intended. That way, I could feel calm when Mikko wanted a meal while we were out, and I didn't feel confined to home, or the car, or a restroom.

These were all my personal preferences and goals for breastfeeding. My vision for the future of breastfeeding is personal as well as wider reaching. I want to continue feeding my child until he decides to stop -- gradually and peacefully and hopefully not sadly for either of us. I want to continue being responsive to his needs to nurse, for comfort as well as calories, and to trust him to know his own needs. I want to be unashamed and confident in breastfeeding a toddler. I want to continue to encourage other parents and potential parents to consider breastfeeding, particularly exclusive (in the early days) and extended breastfeeding.

For the wider world, I want breastfeeding to become (again) normal. I envision every mother trying to breastfeed and almost all continuing to do so, for months or years. I hope for no more dirty looks or quiet suggestions to move along when women breastfeed in public. I see laws being passed in every necessary district to allow breastfeeding, but it will become an act so normal that no one will care. In time, people will look back at the laws and laugh at how archaic they are, and marvel that there was ever a society that needed to be told that breastfeeding is natural and acceptable. Daughters and sons will grow up watching their mothers, aunts, and neighbors feed their young and will pass the wisdom on to their own children when the time comes.

Dream with me, and it will come true. Here's to a happy New Year and a new start for all of us.


Please read the excellent posts from our other carnival participants:

Secrets of Orual wants to encourage other mamas with her experiences of overcoming tough breastfeeding starts
The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog has a slew of incredible lactational support resolutions, including distributing breast pumps to WIC and finishing a book for breastfeeding consultants working with Spanish-speaking mothers
Zen Mommy is learning how to apply Reiki to pregnancy and breastfeeding
Beautiful Letdown resolves to be present and responsive as she tandem nurses
Milk Act looks for ways to stay healthy while continuing to breastfeed her toddler
Breastfeeding 123 lets go of a goal for introducing solids and makes a new one to listen to her children's cues
Blacktating continues to take breastfeeding as a working mom one nursing and pumping session at a time
Mama Knows Breast is going to post breastfeeding information and stories to make women feel comfortable breastfeeding anywhere
Breastfeeding Mums is determined to get her breastfeeding book published this year -- but wants your vote on which way

Painting is a Mother and Child, by Mary Cassatt


Misty said...

your vision brings tears to my eyes!!! it is so beautiful! i, too, pray for a world where breastfeeding is quotidian and seen by sons and daughters who in turn breastfeed sons and daughters. thank you for posting this!!

Lauren Wayne said...

Hi, Misty! I'm enjoying getting to know your blog -- I love your header photo and the story behind it. Thanks for reading, and thanks for using the word "quotidian" -- I love that word. :)

Elita said...

It's amazing to me that you had such a clear understanding of what kind of parent you wanted to be before you had your son. Kudos to you for doing the research, ignoring the naysayers and doing what was best for you and your baby! I have to second your suggestions of finding support and information online, particularly if you don't have it in your "real life." Kelly Mom rocks and Dr. Newman's handouts and videos are tremendously helpful as well. Great post!

Kate Wicker said...

Great post! I agree wholeheartedly when you wrote: "I've never been attuned to the word "goals" in terms of breastfeeding, because it sounds like feeding your baby's something to accomplish, something about the mother's success or failure."

In fact, I considered participating in this carnival, but I found myself fumbling for "goals" when it comes to breastfeeding. My goal is to meet my kids' needs (as well as my own), to be the best mom I can be, and to take this whole mothering journal day by day. Nothing more, nothing less.

I'm what you'd call Type A as in anal and anxious at times. That's one of the many reasons motherhood is so good for me. It has forced me to let go. I've found I can't plan too far ahead and I don't want to. I don't want to be so busy gazing into the future that I miss my kids' laughter, wiping their tears away, watching them sleep now.

Take my current nursing situation. I'm 28 weeks pregnant and have a toddler who is still nursing a couple of times a day. I never thought I'd be a tandem nurser (and perhaps I won't) simply because I couldn't even conceive baby number two before weaning my first at almost 2 years of age. But a nursing strike left me unexpectedly (and now joyfully, although it was initially a bit of a shock) pregnant. I've considered gently weaning my toddler. I've also considered just going for the whole tandem nursing thing. But what I've decided is to just let it - whatever it may be - happen. This laissez faire approach to mothering goes against my very nature, and it certainly can't be the way I tackle every parenting issue (some parenting decisions obviously demand more definite and immediate action). However, in this case, this seems to be best (for now). We'll see what tomorrow holds.

As for your big picture vision, amen to that. I'm dreaming right along with you.

Sorry for the long comment! If you give a preggo a combox and a thoughtful post on nursing, she's going to start to ramble. :)

Anonymous said...

What a great post! I'm so impressed with how well you prepared even before your baby was born! I took the breastfeeding class at the hospital and thought I was set. :)

I love that you mentioned breastfeeding lying down. I never did with my first, but with my second it was integral to survival!

Lauren Wayne said...

blacktating: I think it helped that when I became a parent I was (relatively) old. :) I had lots of time to think about parenting before I became one. Not that I fulfill all my ideals by any stretch...sigh.

kate: I had the same reaction to the word "goals" and wondered if I even had anything to contribute. It amazed me to see what wonderful posts the other participants wrote on the topic, so obviously not everyone felt constrained by the term! I like your attitude (change) toward letting things be. If there's one thing parenting has taught me, it's that I'm not in control (!!). Congratulations on your unexpected pregnancy, and I trust that your older nursling will decide what's best. Very cool comment -- come here and ramble any day.

casey: Maybe it's because I didn't take any classes that I felt I had to do extra credit work. :) And yea to breastfeeding lying down -- I try to tell every nursing mother I meet about that, because it seems so crucial to comfortable, long-term feeding (and sleep!).

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