I have been breast feeding now for over 6 months with my goal being 1-2 years- Just call me a Breast feeding Jedi .. Jedi, I like the sound of that even though I was never into Star wars ...Jedi ... Ya that shall do for the mean time anyway.
However other day I got 'that' look, well it wasn't really a look as much as it was a tone of voice. If your baby is 6 months or older and you breastfeed theres a good chance you know what I'm talking about.
They do not think we are jedi's often they think we are just plain nuts.
If you plan to breast feed for a year plus like I am, prepare for the look, its one of confusion and often utter disbelief, and the tone of voice, the one that says I'm trying to sound nice even though I think your insane and what your doing is completely unnecessary .. Yes, thats the one.
Okay, Ok .. Its not that bad - but it happens all the time, those semi-judgmental looks (don't ask how a look is semi- judgmental and not fully judgmental .. it just is ..) as if its not okay for a big baby to breast feed yet its socially acceptable for them to run around with bottles in their mouths .. Also known as the 'I'm proud of you but theres no need for it anymore glances' ..
This particular time I was in the nursing station toping up my daughter Sahar, partly because she has no interest in food that and even at her age I often still have to breastfeed away from home - breast milk is the staple of her diet, just like many bottle fed babies who you can catch sucking back their formula well out and about.
As I came out of the little area and layed her down to change her, another woman with a visibly much younger, smaller baby smiled at me, then looked down at Sahar, her smile had turned from friendly to curious in a matter of seconds.
"How old is she?"
" 27 weeks, so just over 6 months" I smiled politely "yours?"
"Oh hes only 8 weeks, wow you still breastfeed?"
"No I was just rotating her tires .." At least I thought I was funny .. "Yes .. I do"
I know it was half hearted when she said how wonderful that it was and she makes quick mention that she will switch to formula and bottle feed in the near future.
The conversation ended there and we parted ways, but it left me thinking, shes only 6 months old, why is it that most people are so suprised that I breast feed her, and even more so when I mention I probably will even after she turns one.
They say breast is best, a lot of people agree half heartedly, in reality it makes a lot of people flat out uncomfortable.
I will admit, even though I had decided before having children I would breastfeed till they were at least one, but when it came down to it, the first time I felt awkward and somewhat embarrassed. I had never seen, or for that matter really knew anyone who breastfed, I kept telling myself it was natural and was in her and my best interest when in reality I was surrounded by people who agreed with my view but only partly.
The nurses offered formula many times even though after a few tries me and mini Sahar got it down, and now 6 months later I am so happy I stuck to my guns, I love that its something special between just us, that I can't prop up a bottle and walk away, that I have to give her that time and attention ... granted sometimes I multi task, facebook one hand breastfeeding her in the other. However I am forced to slow down and take that time just the two of us, and it is incredibly rewarding on so many levels.
It can be hard at times breast feeding a baby even in our new found "breast is best" world - I remember being asked countless times when or if I would switch her to a bottle, why I didn't conciser pumping, and the worst of it "why are you feeding her again, she just ate"
Ive been lucky maybe because Ive gone with my gut, fed on demand, Ive been the human pacifier, and now have enough milk to feed an army - My daughter has gone from a little 5lb full term new born to a very hefty 18lb 6 month old on breast milk alone.
Fruits of my labor, considering many struggle with supply issues, which most of the time are easily fixable, but thats a whole different area of conversation.
In my grandmothers day and age - breastfeeding wasn't considered as civilized as bottle feeding (my definition of insanity simplified), or so they thought, by the time my mother had me they had realized the benefits, however I was only breastfed till I was 3 months old and my mother countless times has gone out of her way to tell me how awful it was. Complaining that she was sore, that I never stopped nursing and they had to pry me off, and my personal favorite that I ruined her body, her breasts in perticular ... sad really because my body can go to the dumps as long as my baby is happy, healthy and safe, and those things are mostly genetics and a lot less to do with babies, not to mention thats what our bodies are made to do and personally I enjoy every minute of it.
I know instinctively nothing is better for Sahar then the milk my body tailor makes for her, and it may not work for everyone but it works well for us.
Happy baby, Happy Mum.
But I do really wish a lot more mothers would stick out breastfeeding for the long haul and get over the stigmas surrounding it, or even just giving it a heart felt go - they grow up so fast, and if thats not your cup of tea then don't judge those or look oddly at those who do even if you see then toddling off afterward, we all want to do whats best, no real right and wrong and personally speaking I believe breast is best whether they lay, crawl, stand, or toddle :-).