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Supporting Breastfeeding VS. Promoting Breastfeeding

by Amanda on May 10, 2009
category: Feeding,Inspiration

breastfeedingsymbol There is a great discussion over on PhDinParenting.com about breastfeeding and blogging about it. After reading PHDinParenting’s post and the comments I believe that there is a difference between supporting breastfeeding mothers and promoting breastfeeding.

Supporting breastfeeding mothers is encouraging moms in the decision they have already made. While promoting breastfeeding is trying to encourage new moms to breastfeed even if they don’t want to. My hope is that I can encourage those moms that want to nurse or are nursing, because breastfeeding moms need encouragement.

There is not a lot of support for new moms that want to nurse. I needed encouragement.

  • Older generations didn’t breastfeed and my mom doesn’t encourage me.
  • My former Pediatrician wasn’t active in supporting me.
  • When I left the hospital with my first child I was given a diaper bag sponsored by a formula company loaded with formula in it.
  • While outprocessing the nurse gave me a long speech how I was going to have to give my baby formula at some point. Now that I think back I may have made every effort to nurse my first baby without ever giving her formula just to prove that nurse wrong. And I did. Now I wish I knew her name so I could tell her she was wrong. I guess my personal challenge didn’t matter in the end. Ha!

The truth is that breastfeeding is dang hard. It took me 3 weeks with my first baby before I didn’t have any pain nursing. With my second baby I thought the pain wouldn’t last as long since my boobs were used to it and I knew what I was doing, but I was wrong. I still had immense pain for the first 3 weeks. I called a lactation consultant and she told me that I was doing everything right and that it would get better. Thankfully she was right, but I needed to hear that encouragement from a Lactation Consultant at that time.

I am currently nursing my 10 week old and it isn’t easy to watch my diet. I stay away from caffeine and alcohol and I try to eat healthy. My second baby is a boy and nursing a lot and that makes me really hungry. Since I am eating extra food, I am confused on how I should diet and exercise to lose my baby weight. I would love to have my body be mine again, but the trade off is worth it. If I didn’t believe that breastfeeding was better for my baby then I don’t think I would do it.

Breastfeeding is not always encouraged by professionals or older generations. Learning to nurse is difficult, time consuming, and can be inconvenient. My aim is to encourage my friends and those who ask for my help and support in their breastfeeding efforts. It is never my intention to always promote breastfeeding to those that choose formula or to judge them. I may look at them funny while I am observing what they do, because formula is foreign to me and I am watching and learning in case I ever have to do it one day.

One way that I like to support my friends in breastfeeding is by giving them a Brestfriend Pillow as a baby shower gift along with a copy of an article that I wrote titled, “7 Things You Should Know Before You Start Breastfeeding.”

Other ways to support your breastfeeding friends:

  • Be a listening ear when they are going through the first few tough weeks.
  • Encourage them to see a Lactation Consultant if they need help.
  • Don’t be weirded out when they nurse in front of you.
  • Share about your own breastfeeding experience.
  • Buy them a nursing cover for a baby shower gift.

Have you ever encouraged a friend that wanted to breastfeed? Has breastfeeding vs. formula feeding ever came in between a friendship?

11 Responses to Supporting Breastfeeding VS. Promoting Breastfeeding

  • Comment by Sharon M
    May 11, 2009 @ 12:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your story Amanda! Many of us go into breastfeeding thinking it should be “instinctual,” and that isn’t always the case. My LacCon was my best friend for those first two weeks with my son. It’s amazing the kind of mixed messages we get in our society, how the APA recommends breastfeeding for the first year, but we get bombarded by formula from our hospitals, pediatricians, and even occasionally our OBGYNs!

    I’m curious about the dieting and exercise thing during pregnancy, too. I mean, I didn’t take to a diet of ice cream and chips while I was nursing, but I ate A LOT more than usual. I tried to keep lots of fruit and cheese, or cut up veggies and hummus around the house for snacks (the hummus here is incredible, I can’t eat it in the US anymore!). Once I got my energy back, and got a little more sleep at night, I started slowly adding exercise back into my routine.

  • Comment by Dawn
    May 11, 2009 @ 6:20 am

    My sisters-in-law both tried breastfeeding and quite simply, it didn’t work out for them. One of them felt really badly about the whole thing because she really wanted to nurse, and the other said she was ultimately okay with it. Having gone through my own breastfeeding struggles with my first child, I empathized with them the best I could and encouraged them that they were wonderful mothers taking great care of their kids. Looking back, I realize I probably should have just not asked them about it – to leave them be in their decisions without having them explain why they made the choice they did. I know I hate having to explain myself to others when it comes to decisions like that.

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    Comment by Christy
    May 11, 2009 @ 6:58 am

    I struggled with a lack of support with breastfeeding our first child. My Mom thought it was completely weird and was freaked out when I nursed infront of her, even covered. One of my dearest friends wanted so badly to breastfeed, but her body just wouldn’t let her. I always felt guilty being able to when she couldn’t. I can’t say that breast vs formula has ever become an issue in a bad way with friends. Then again, I have few friends who chose to formula feed and those who wanted to BF but couldn’t, the rest of us helped by giving extra pumped milk. I agree that I look in wonder at mom’s who formula feed, but it’s only b/c I never gave it to my own kids… except at the hospital when they forced me to (and I cried for an hour!!!). And I have to say that I personally couldn’t be more thankful for my old boss for encouraging me to breastfeed when I was pregnant. I had never even thought about it!! It’s been a wonderful blessing for me and both of my kids.

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    Comment by Candace
    May 11, 2009 @ 7:11 am

    My experience with breastfeeding has been mixed. I love the time Asher and I have shared and the health benefits he receives from breastfeeding. However, when I was pregnant I took the breastfeeding classes and I don’t know how many times I was told, “if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt”. Like you I became good friends my lactation consultant because I was convinced I was doing something wrong. After 2 weeks the pain was over but our routine hadn’t changed. Asher was latched on correctly and in the right position for the right amount of time but it just takes time for the pain to go away. Nobody told me that, except my mother, but I told my mother what they were telling me! In addition to the pain, my milk didn’t come in until about the seventh day (which was heart breaking because I beginning to think I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed). I remember on the fifth day my grandmother yelled ” your milk still hasn’t come in?! Oh my goodnes!”. I got the impression Asher wasn’t going to survive because my milk hadn’t come in. Even when it did come in it has never been enough to statisfy Asher so I have to supplement with formula. All in all, my breastfeeding experience has left me supporting breastfeeding but more importantly supporting the mother who is doing everything she can to make the right decisions for her and her child. I just try to me very sensitive and non judgmental because what they are going through may not be what you see.

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    Comment by amelia
    May 11, 2009 @ 11:59 am

    I guess when I think of “promoting breastfeeding” I think of telling others about the benefits of it. If no one ever talked about breastfeeding and the benefits then the art of it would be lost again. There are a lot of misnomers out there about formula and even though it is hard to swallow–breastmilk is healthier for babies. If no one talked about that then that would be sad. Maybe I’m being nitpicky with the wording.

    I totally agree that making mothers feel bad and being judgemental toward them if they don’t breastfeed is a bad idea. I generally find that being a good listener is the way to go–lambasting people with information they don’t want, even if you know you are giving correct information, usually doesn’t make them listen. When it comes down to it, it is a personal choice and being a friend and good listener is only going to strengthen friendship.

    I think there are a lot of things wrong with the “system” when it comes to supporting mothers and breastfeeding. Hospitals sending home formula undermines many mothers desire to breastfeed. Having nurses, pediatricians, OBs say unhelpful things to mothers really bugs me. Or work places not offering private places or time for women to pump. The list goes on.

    I guess I am just wary about ONLY speaking up to people who are nursing–that is preaching to the choir. Sharing your stories about your own experiences with nursing to friends, new moms or pregnant friends, may be a helpful way of “promoting” breastfeeding.

    I hope I’m making sense what I’m trying to communicate.

  • Comment by Amanda
    May 11, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

    @Amelia – I completely agree. I really struggled with the wording of this post last night. I had so many thoughts about breastfeeding and I couldn’t make them cohesive. Yes, I agree we need to promote breastfeeding and the benefits. It is just hard for me, because I want to share so much about it when I hear a friend is pregnant, but I don’t want to step on their toes. I usually just offer my help if they want to try it. I let them know I will support them. But I feel have to respect people if they don’t ask for my opinion on which is best.

    I think your last suggestion in your comment about sharing my own story is a great idea to promote breastfeeding. I hadn’t looked at it that way.

  • Comment by Amanda
    May 11, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

    @Candace – Thank you for sharing your story! There are MANY moms like you that eventually get breastfeeding to work, but then they don’t seem to make enough milk to satisfy a fast growing baby. Amelia who posted here in the comments has a similar story. I think it is awesome that you were able to speak with a lactation consultant and they helped you. I know Asher is a growing boy and he just needs A LOT to eat! Thank you again for sharing, I am sure someone else reading the comments is encouraged by your story.

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    Comment by Jenn
    May 11, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

    I actually had the other extreme – I felt insane pressure to breastfeed from the lactation consultant at the hospital despite the fact I had a rather major breast reduction and was struggling with a number of my ducts having no way to get their milk to my nipple. Ouch! Luckily a nurse finally came in on DAY FIVE I was in the hospital and talked to me about balance and taking it easy on myself and having the chance to just relax a bit with my son. He wasn’t gaining weight, I was getting crazy mixed messages, I wanted desperately to breastfeed, and I didn’t know which way was up.

    I am happy to report that we started using formula when we got home, that I did a combo of BF and FF for four months (taking donperidone the whole time and pumping like a crazy woman), and that my little preemie is now turning one this week and in the 95th percentile (and has been since he was 6 months old).

  • Gravatar May 14, 2009 @ 6:31 am

    Yet another hot topic that I am interested in right now. I breastfed my daughter until she was 13 months old and am currently breastfeeding my son who is 7 months old.

    I think that if it weren’t for the huge promotion of breastfeeding right now, not as many Moms would feel as encouraged to try it out because it certainly is difficult. However, I also feel that there isn’t enough being said that if you have tried breastfeeding and it isn’t working for you or, for whatever reason you decide you don’t want to try that formula feeding isn’t ‘bad’ either. You are right, our generation was predominantly formula fed and we all turned out just fine.

    My friends and family all know how important breastfeeding is to me, but they also know that I don’t judge others who decide not to. It is a personal choice.

    I have one aunt who discouraged my efforts in breastfeeding and who felt that I should have weaned my daughter at 5 months so that I could attend my cousin’s wedding. Argh…that made me SO mad! My hubby brought her to the church and waited outside so that I could feed her after the ceremony and followed me to the reception where I nursed her in the parking lot before heading into the dinner. I stayed for a couple of hours and drove home to nurse her again. It was important for me to go, but not important enough for me to wean her either.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Blair Covington
    May 19, 2009 @ 10:23 am

    I tell them that it is their family and their decision…I give them a couple of my favorite websites to visit….once they hit the cool hip breastfeeding site like http://www.breastfeedingdivas.com (one of my very favorites) they usually choose breastfeeding….fashion always wins and saving money on formula and disposable diapers never hurts. Good luck to all….have a happy summer!

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    Comment by Stephanie
    July 11, 2009 @ 11:03 am

    Thank you Amanda for this post! Obviously you know that Ryan is a few days shy of 4 1/2 months old :) I am still nursing him, and even still 4 months later I need to hear encouraging words such as this note you posted. I struggled for 6 weeks to get my son to latch on & stay on. That right there was almost a factor in me giving up and giving him formula, however I was determined to breastfeed, mainly because it is better for them, and then the bonding and how cheap it is! My family does not support me in breastfeeding, they said MAYBE 6 mo, but definitely not longer than that.. and honestly I have a goal to bfeed for at least a year, and I am thinking of even maybe up to 18 months or 2 years? I haven’t decided, and I think I will let Ryan wean himself weather that be at 9 months or 2 years old. Anyway, I wanted to say thank you and that every once in a while it is nice to see that other people support my choice, and generally speaking, THE choice to breastfeed. More of a motivating factor for me to continue!! :)

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