Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Everything Changes, Only My Opinion

A new baby in my family has brought up thoughts and memories of my own baby experiences.  I suppose that is just the normal progression of things.  My baby is 38 years old.  That is a generation ago, more than a generation really.  The baby and I had a rough go at the beginning.  Beginning breastfeeding was tough.  He was jaundiced and small and didn't get on a good schedule at first and was colicky.  It was hard at first.  He was a month old before I really felt confident as a nursing mother.

I joined a support group for nursing mothers and eventually became a leader of a group.  I became a support for other woman and their babies.  I could answer the phone at 3 am and talk through latch on with a newborn and how to soothe a middle of the night crying baby.  I knew a lot about breasts and nursing and mothers. I did it for free, and for love of babies and moms.

But, if I remember back to the original draw to nursing my baby, it was mainly about the money I would save.  Nursing would save enough money compared to buying formula and I would not have to go back to work for more time. I was also drawn to the ease of not cleaning bottles and measuring formula.  Back in the day, few people really believed that breastfeeding was best.  The milk itself wasn't the point, it was the delivery and the attachment with the baby.  I was a cheap, lazy nursing mom.  I never owned a breast pump or ever used one.  I stayed home with my baby through preschool and nursed my baby well past what anyone would consider the baby or even the toddler phase.  The Biblical references to nursing seem to indicate 3 years was a norm, enough said.

I believe that nursing and weaning is every woman's own decision.  No woman should be forced to nurse their baby or to quit nursing before they are ready.  I am a big fan of attachment parenting.  Mothers and dads need to be in love with their babies.  Babies need to be loved to excess, more than breast milk, more than the right swing or bed or swaddlers.  Love is what babies need, in my opinion.

I have recently been exposed to the current breastfeeding culture.  It seems to emphasize breast pumps, amounts to feed, shields, systems, and on and on.  I don't think I could do all of that.  A baby, a breast, that was my equipment.  I hand expressed and froze some milk, but my baby wouldn't have anything to do with artificial nipples so that was largely a waste of time.  I don't think I could nurse today. My hat is off to women who do that.

But, if I could change everything, moms would have a year to stay home and nurse their babies.  Doctors, hospitals, NICUs, lactation specialists and nurses would really help and encourage breastfeeding.  Imagine if a baby had a 50% better survival rate if nursed, how would hospitals change what they do? Things have changed and I recognize suddenly that any input I have on feeding a baby is as outdated as my own mother's advice was.  I was a baby before formula was something you bought.  It was something you made with Karo syrup, evaporated milk and water.  I lived through that highly suspect food, my baby lived through my lazy nursing and new moms and babies will somehow survive the norms of this day.

I have had an education in that everything has changed and I am no longer an expert on feeding babies.  I need to bite my tongue and listen.  Because I have learned that what was wrong for me in parenting my own child, might be right for someone else. And largely, the babies will survive only to grow up and tell their own parents how they did everything wrong. 

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