Saturday, November 13, 2010

How we learn to breastfeed

A little philosophical addendum for your weekend. At first I wasn't sure whether to write my article on breastfeeding through infant nasal congestion, because at first it seemed so specific to our own frustrating, perhaps uncommon newborn situation.

But then I realized that all I learned about breastfeeding was through reading books and articles, watching videos online, chatting on forums, and being counseled by my midwives — and then, finally and abruptly, through feeding my own son. I had seen my mom feed my little brother, but only a little, and had only occasional glimpses of other nursing dyads.

It would be easiest to learn things like "how to deal with nasal congestion while breastfeeding" by observing other breastfeeding parents around you and hearing them share, from a young age, all sorts of tips and wisdom with each other and you. It would be wonderful if whenever you had a breastfeeding concern, you knew you could ask any parent around you for help, and she could give it or would know another person to ask.

But that hasn't been my situation, and blogging in virtual life and breastfeeding in public in real life is the best way I know to make a substitute for that sort of tribal experience. If we all share a little bit online and let those around us (particularly the young ones) see us nurse and hear us talk about it, maybe our children will grow up seeing breastfeeding in a variety of situations and knowing how it all works from long familiarity.

Rebuilding a breastfeeding community has to start somewhere, so let's have it start with us.


Rachael @ The Variegated Life said...

"Rebuilding a breastfeeding community": Yes! Exactly!

And thanks for all you're doing to support that ...

Yuliya said...

That is the sweetest picture ever!
And yes I am on board to rebuild a breastfeeding community as well, what a wonderful goal!

Lia Keller said...

I was so lucky that bf just came naturally and easily. Both kids latched on soon after birth and didn't look back. I know that I learned to relax and feed as they want. I think my most important advice is to relax and let it happen. Don't stress if they don't eat much one day or too much another. I never wrote down feedings either. Whatever will be will be!

kari b. said...

I was just thinking how thankful I am to have found this community of bloggers to learn from and relate to, it's actually leading to a real-life community that I probably would never have been in touch with otherwise. Bravo for making your own tribe! I

Lisa C said...

A topic near and dear to my heart. It's one of the reasons I get mad when some people think we ought to hide breastfeeding. It's so detrimental to never let anyone see it!

Momma Jorje said...

It was a great and informative post! Sometimes when our babies are suffering we can't think of the simple solutions (like steam in the bathroom). I'm sure your article will be found by desperate mothers along their BF path.

Also, gorgeous photo here!!

Mama Mo said...

I have been in search of my breastfeeding "tribe" since I gave birth. I have a wonderful support system and fountain of knowledge in my mom, but sometimes I just want to talk to other mommas. Luckily for me... the internet! Your blog is one of my favorites, and I very much appreciate all you share. Thanks!

Lauren Wayne said...

Thank you, everyone! I'm so glad to be in this together with you.

Mikko was about 6 months old in that picture, and we were in our favorite nursing glider. I'm so glad we thought to have Sam take a few pictures of those moments — they happen so often that sometimes you forget to capture them!

Rachel: Thank you, too!

Yuliya: Yea!

Lia: I like that advice. I mean, I'm sure there are people who legitimately need to stress, but I think a lot of the fear and obsession over infant feeding stems from lack of knowledge and familiarity. (In terms of how much, how often, etc.) Thanks for your wisdom!

kari b.: Isn't that funny? I've met people in real life now, too, whom I initially met online. It's so fun!

Lisa C: Exactly! There's nothing wrong with an individual mother feeling more comfortable with covering or leaving the room, but I feel like our culture needs to stop expecting it and therefore making nursing mothers uncomfortable. How else is anyone going to see and learn, and how else is society ever going to change?

Momma Jorje: Yes, I think the fact that people immediately responded and said, "Me, too!" to the stuffy-newborn post proves my point — I had no idea how common it was, because we don't talk about these things with our communities. Even when the subject of nursing has come up in groups of friends, it's been in general terms. Wouldn't it be nice to swap tips? Anyway, just more musing. Thanks!

Mama Mo: How lovely to have an advocate in your mom, but I totally understand craving even more. Thank you!

Stacy (Mama-Om) said...

What a succinct, sweet addendum. I completely agree, and just last week wrote something similar about becoming my own role model for practicing EC (after building community around it, virtual and real).

We are social animals, and we learn through observing our fellow beings. I don't think we can ever undervalue this fact. And of course, the ways of observing now include virtual means, which can really help.

Another thought -- I remember seeing a mother breastfeeding her toddler in a store once (in the year or so before I became pregnant), and I know I was looking at her, not in judgment but because I was so curious! I was worried I would make her self-conscious but I really wanted to see what was happening, just to take it all in.

Later, when I was nursing in my own children public, I tried to remember that sometimes the reason people look is not always to be judgmental, but because they are hungry for information/connection/familiarity.


Elena said...

Count me in!

I know with my first, it was really important to be part of a weekly playgroup with other breastfeeding mothers so we could share our experiences. There was no "online" to speak of then (this was 1992!) so it's great that there is another way to connect now and support each other's journey!

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