We are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2010 in style here on Joyful Mama's Place this week! Today's guest blogger is a mom to eight beautiful blessings, and the brains behind the fabulous blog SE7EN - The life and times of a homeschooling mother of se7en + 1! She and her family live in one of the most beautiful parts of Cape Town, and whenever she posts a picture of her children exploring rock pools in the middle of an *ordinary day*, I am green with envy!
Please pop in for a visit to her blog - I guarantee you will leave inspired.
Nursing is an art, and nursing in public is a fine art. With my firstborn it took ages for us to "get it" but once we did I have never looked back. For me it wasn't so much about whether it was legal or not, of course it is, your baby has a right to food. For me it was all about discretion. Now I know moms who have given up on nursing because they didn't want to spend the rest of their baby's life tucked away in a public bathroom, the threat of that was enough motivation for me to "master the art of nursing in public."
Here are se7en tips I wish I had known, the first time round:
- Look and Learn: I never realized that I hadn't actually seen other mom's nursing until I had a baby of my own and even then you never see brand newborn babies out in the world. The best place to find other nursing moms is at your local La-Leche League Meeting. I wish I had gone to one of their monthly meetings before I had my firstborn and I have to say that when I finally got there, totally desperate, it was the haven of like-minded moms that I was looking for.
- Practice makes Perfect: This is true for most things. When my firstborn and I finally got nursing right (it doesn't always happen instantly) he was about six weeks old. Before that I could only manage nursing sitting topless on a bed with a bazillion cushions. I was convinced I was housebound forever. Not so... we got better at it really quickly and we managed to nurse sitting on the couch and then in front of friends and eventually out in the world. By twelve weeks I nursed him through my graduation ceremony and no-one sitting around me had any idea... Only that I had a very well-behaved baby!!!
- You Don't Need Special Equipment: You can buy special nursing shirts, you can use special covers. Frankly I have never had a baby who wanted to nurse under a sheet - ever... and since I have never eaten a meal under a tablecloth I can understand that!!! I also found that a lot of "special nursing" shirts were a whole lot less discreet than I wanted to be. I have always worn baggy t-shirts to nurse in public, my baby lies against my tummy and I lift a corner for them to nurse. Try it with a cushion - nothing is exposed!!! And that's the way I like it thank-you very much!!!
- Newborns Need Special Mention: Call me uncoordinated but I have always needed two hands to nurse a newborn. They don't automatically latch on and nurse discreetly for hours. They do sputter and gag and very often battle to get it right... their mouths are tiny and their heads flail. The peaceful vision that one sees in magazines isn't always the reality!!! Nursing takes practice for moms and their babies... the babies you see out in the world are generally not newborns, they are slightly older and the mother and babe have found their rhythm. In the great comparative study we call mothering make sure you compare yourself to moms with babes the same age as yours!!! It is all very well to think you can't do this when you have a tiny two week old in your arms and you are looking at a mom with a three month old... be yourself and don't compare it will stand you in good stead!!!
- Don't Wait: When your baby starts to make hungry noises, just settle down and nurse - trust me on this. When you are out in public everyone will notice a screaming hungry baby but no-one will notice a contented baby snuggled in its mother's lap. In fact there are many times when people haven't noticed that I was nursing and came to say what a sweet quiet baby I have!!!
- Just Nurse: Don't even think about trying to express milk and give your baby a bottle when you are out. Initially, getting out is stressful enough without trying to fill bottles for the great event. Your milk is just where it should be for when your baby needs it. When you have a newborn I really recommend that you focus on getting the supply and demand balance of breastfeeding right before you try and introduce bottles. And seriously, the expression "Don't cry over spilt milk" was coined specifically with new mothers in mind. When you have a baby who nurses two hourly and then takes an hour to nurse you really don't want to be trying to master expresing milk at the same time. Really if you spend all your free time trying to express and after ages you have 15 ml of milk in a jar and you spill a drop of it - trust me you will cry!!! Wait till your baby is bigger, there is time!!!
- It Isn't Just Food: Trust me on this, when you are nursing an older baby, and since the World Health Organization recommends nursing at least until the age of two, dare I say a toddler. Sometimes they just need a little comfort to get through a tricky situation... We traveled overseas in a crowd with a toddler and when he began to melt down at nap time we quickly nursed. A toddler is a very efficient nursing machine and can be done in seconds compared to a newborn who takes hours. He would nurse quickly and seconds later he would be napping or just content. I am always surprised that people don't mind seeing a child walking around with a pacifier in their mouths but might disapprove of nursing. We are generally discreet enough that folks don't know we are actually nursing. and the Se7en + 1th thing:
- Your Baby has Rights: People have no problem with older children drinking bottles in public or using pacifiers to keep them content. Don't be put off nursing your child when they need to nurse. When your baby is a couple of months old and everything distracts them it is often easier to take them somewhere quiet to nurse them. But don't feel compelled to. I have never had some one come up to me and say "You may not nurse here..." but I have had people not like me nursing out. It is not in my nature to be terribly confrontational I just sort of stare into space and they generally just wander on!!! I have seen two women being told to move on in a shopping mall, they were from the local township and were seeking air-conditioned refuge for their babies in the heat of summer... I joined them on the bench and nursed my babe... no-one came near any of us!!! I guess a mother with eight trailing children may be a little bit intimidating!!!
I say amen to that! And I end off this inspiring post with another badge from http://www.lactivist.co.uk/ Enjoy!