The thing I love about La Leche League is that it is a place of support. At times I am there because I need support, and other times I am there to offer support to other mothers. According to the La Leche League Purpose and Philosophy, "La Leche League was founded to give information and encouragement... to all mothers who want to breastfeed their babies." Unfortunately, many new mothers don't have the support they need, and they are confused by the conflicting information and misinformation they are given. Mothers are often told by hospital staff shortly after their baby's birth that their baby needs a bottle to help with low blood sugar levels (when colostrum is actually all the baby needs). New moms are told "breast is best" and then sent home from the hospital with formula. It's no wonder so many moms have difficulty breastfeeding!
A couple of the moms at the meeting last night had a hard time getting breastfeeding off to a successful start and were supplementing with formula. I talked to one of these moms after the meeting and she made a comment along the lines of "Here I am at a La Leche League meeting, feeding my baby a bottle!" My heart just broke for her! I was so impressed that she would be there seeking support, and I was so sad that she would feel any sort of guilt or shame. I commented that any breastmilk her baby got was better than none at all!
As I was leaving, I recalled an article I read by Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC in which she writes about the benefits your baby receives if you nurse your baby for a few days, or a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years. (You can read the full article here.) Basically, your baby receives benefits from ANY breastmilk he or she drinks. Breastfeeding doesn't have to be an all or nothing game, and it's not a contest.
Sometimes I worry that because I'm still nursing my 41 month old (yeah, that's over 3 years old folks) while also nursing my 10 month old, people think I'm trying to win the title of Breastfeeding Queen or something. Or that I think everyone should tandem nurse until their children choose to wean.
|Photo credit breastfeeding.com|
My choices regarding breastfeeding are personal ones. They are the choices I feel are best for ME and MY girls. But I don't look down on anyone who chooses to nurse for a shorter period of time or is unable to breastfeed at all.
Breastfeeding is obviously something I feel strongly about. I try to inform, support, and encourage all moms who wish to breastfeed, and try really hard not to offend anyone in the process. If you're an expectant mom or a mom who's facing some breastfeeding challenges, I highly recommend you contact a lactation consultant or attend a free La Leche League meeting near you. (Click here to find a La Leche League group near you.)