Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lactivism


A 6 month old baby wearing nothing but cowboy boots is adorable. A 6 month old's mother wearing nothing but cowboy boots would get me thrown off Blogger.


My pre-baby jeans fit me again but to look at my body without clothes I'd never know it belonged to the same person. There are still 8 unfamiliar pounds meating my frame but from what I've read, it is normal to hang on to a few extra lbs whilst one is breastfeeding an infant. While nursing initially helps liquefy pregnancy weight, Nature doesn't want all of Ma's blubber to go away just in case of a famine situation where she'd be unable to scarf down enough calories to make milk. So, said blubber just hangs out, protected by lactation hormones, waiting to be called into action. So far, though the economy is bad, we've still managed to avoid famine and keep my blubber intact. Hooray blubber!


If the physical downside of nursing Violet is the lactation-fat, the upside is the absence of menstruation. What a wonderful gift from the Breastfeeding Fairy! I haven't had a period since July of 2007. How rockin' is that? I think the FDA should require the formula industry to put that little tidbit of info on the side of all its cans of Enfamil and Similac in addition to the breast is best warning. "Use of this product will result in the speedy return of your period." If that didn't encourage new moms to give nursing a try, maybe the FDA might want to include the fact that lactation amenorrhea (the technical name for the temporary halt of menstruation) is a drug-free method of birth control about as effective as The Pill.


Shawn, Violet, and I went to two parties this weekend and the topic of breastfeeding came up at both. A natural thing to talk about when there is an infant suckling, I suppose. At Jen's housewarming party, I hung out in the playroom with the other babies and Mommas while Shawn hung out by the TV watching the football games. One girl who was in the playroom is pregnant with her first and due in December. Between me and Violet (born in May), Aly and Charlie (born in July), and Carrie and Ruby (born in August), she had a virtual panel of baby experts whose brains she could pick. And all of our experiences with birth and feeding have been different.


I was joking with Shawn on the way home from the party that I feel like the Johnny Appleseed of breastfeeding in situations like that. Sort of a "Jilly Boobyfeed." Nursing has been such a positive experience for me and Violet, and I believe so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding, that I want to share it with all new moms. The difficulty in doing so is to remain diplomatic, to try to avoid coming across as a big, bitchy, breastfeeding nazi. This is especially true in the company of Carrie, one of my best friends, and Aly, my sister-in-law and friend, both who have had unique experiences nursing their kids and found different ways to make their families work. I think that they are both phenomenal moms and I look up to them as parents for different reasons.


That said, I am definitely outspoken in my advocacy of nursing. The more I learn about it, the longer I do it myself, the more angry I become that this society does not embrace nursing as the norm. It upsets me that there are so many women who intend to nurse their babies who, for one reason or another, have difficulty and don't have the resources or know-how to get through. It upsets me that formula companies sent canister after canister of their product to my house unsolicited and unwanted, but there were no invitations to free breastfeeding classes or seminars on how to help a newborn latch on. Those things I had to seek out myself.


If you think, for even a minute, that the shift in feeding from breast to bottle in the U.S. is fueled by anything other than capitalism, then you should do some reading. Breast milk, as nutritionally perfect and easily digestible as it is, happens to be free. No money changes hands when a baby nurses from her mother. Cans of formula, however, are far from free. Infant formula is a billion dollar a year industry. When the hospitals and pediatrician's offices become distribution sites for formula, where can families get unbiased information that they can trust?
That's why those of us that have breastfed and done so successfully have to be lactivists. Like so many other tasks in life, if moms don't do it themselves, it won't get done at all!

3 comments:

Babs said...

I wish La Leche League paid it's leaders. You'd be so good at it.

Monique said...

This is a touchy subject but I'm beginning to think it's not so much one because of a lack of support but because breastfeeding can be so difficult and asking a new mom to get through all those challenges on top of her normal life and work challenges is a large burden. If it's an easy experience then it's no big deal to choose to breastfeed. If it's a challenging one, I don't think it does any good to beat the mom up for trying and deciding she couldn't get through it. That said, I do not think there's enough support or cheerleaders for us nursing moms when the going gets rough. I've been nursing exclusively for 10 months now (my girl is only now starting to eat solids) and I've been through hell getting here. I did it for her. I did it for me. But mostly I did it because she left me no choice. She never accepted a bottle and is quite attached to her boobs, as insufficient as they seem to be sometimes. :P Anyway, I count myself as a lactivist even after all my trials and tribulations...masochistic perhaps! Keep on milking!

Aly said...

You have an incredible way of voicing your passion for nursing. You do so in a way that encourages those who have had a hard time with it, while not implying they've done anything but the best (as their situation calls) for their child. I love going to LLL meetings with you. You are one of the reasons I feel I've been so successful at nursing the second time around.

I love that about you.