Why I Chose To Breastfeed

The following heartfelt letters were submitted by mothers from across the world

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Submitted by Annemarie
I have two boys, both of whom were breastfed. My first nursed without a problem untill 23 months when he self weaned. My newest man, who is only 5 months old, has been a different story. He was a premie and because of which he has had great difficulty in his life. He has been hospitalized many times. It feels to me like it is the only thing I can do for him. When he was in the hospital on a monitor there was nothing I could do for him that the nurses couldn't. Except feed him. He has some severe oral motor development problems and it would be easier to switch to formula. But I will not. I cannot in good conscience give my child something harmful. I have been told by his doctor many times the reason he is doing so well is because he is breastfeeding. I have a picture of my little man in the NICU after he was born with tubes and wires and the only thing natural in that picture is that he is at my breast where he belongs. I love my kids and want the best. That is why I breastfeed.
Submitted by Christy Michael

I had no Pregnancy complications, but almost all delivery complication including.. induction at 10 days late (Pitocin), 3 1/2 hours of pushing, failed vacuum extraction (twice), forceps delivery, retained placenta, and 4th degree lacertions.

My son was born at 12:24am and my doctor manually removed my placenta at about 1:30. My son had APGARS of 3 and 8 so he was sent to the nursery for observation. I ended up in the OR for lacertion repairs as I was in so much pain and nothing they gave me would help so they put me under anestesia. I woke up in recovery at 5 am. At this point I still hadn't held my son and only had a quick kiss in the delivery room. About 6 am my nurse wheeled my by the nursery where I was able to see him through the window. I had intended on breastfeeding, but as he was held up he started spitting up formula so I knew for sure he had been given some. Oh well I was glad as I hadn't seen him in 6 hours so he would've been pretty hungry.

After getting to my room I was only able to sleep for an hour before I asked them to bring him to me. About 9 hours after his birth I was attempting to breastfeed. The nurse gave him to me and said feed him and then she was gone. I was exausted, he was frustrated and hungry so I gave up and called for bottles. The same nurse came back and carefully showed me how to bottlefeed him. Grrr!!!

Later that day a lactation consultant came in and I was almost in tears. She was very nice and said that I could still try the next day when we might both be ready and she would have the other lactation. consultant come by. The next day she did come by. Brett, my son, was crying so loudly, but she grabbed my breast and shoved him on it and PRESTO!!!! It worked!!!! They really worked!!!!! She was impressed that Brett latched on so good. She said her children never got that good til a few weeks old. He is 4 months old as I write this and his growth is still off the charts. He was 9lbs. and 7 oz. 22 inches at birth and is now 15 lbs. 10 oz. and 27 1/4 inches at 4 months. I had intended on breastfeeding fo only 3 months, but as you can see we aren't ready to stop yet :)

Submitted by Ami Boutwell

I want to share a rather sweetened condensed version of my breastfeeding experiences. With my first child, I had every intent to breatfeed, but when she was born and wouldn't latch on, I had no support system and no lactation consultant to teach me how to latch my baby on properly. I pumped a few times and then gave up. I regretted the decision and still do. My second child, born just 26 months later got ABO jaundice and the docs at the military hospital we were at told me I must not nurse the baby. Well, I listened and despite what they said, I wanted to try. When I first nursed my daughter, I didn't set out at that moment to nurse her, it just happened. I sat down to rock her in a rocking chair right beside a window. She turned into me and got very comfortable. My instinct was to lower my gown and offer my breast to her. She quicky latched on and began to suckle. My whole body flooded with warmth and I felt so motherly. I was nursing my baby and nobody had to show me how! I was filled with elation, but stopped nursing her after just 2 weeks because I got frustrated and didn't know about LLL, so I again, didn't have support. With my third child, things were a little different. There was a HUGE support system in the hospital. LC's were plentiful and the pediatricians were very supportive of breastfeeding. My problem was that my daughter was ill and had to be in the NICU. She was there for 16 days and for 16 days I pumped my milk for her. I nursed while I was there and pumped when I wasn't. It was tiresome and difficult, but we made it through and she continued to nurse until she was 2 months old. I gave up again because of frustration. Well, here I am now on my fourth child. My very first son and my very first civilian birth. Do you think I have stopped nursing? NO!! We are a happy nursing couple involved with LLL and my sweet son has never had a drop of formula! I plan to nurse him forever! I was meant to give my baby this special gift and only wish I would have done the same for my other children. Nursing is so incredible. I love this. Is anything in life any better? I don't see how it can be.

I have three children, all breastfed. My first child was a struggle in every way. After a painless birth I had little time with my daughter before she went to the nursery, she wouldn't latch on. The hospital gave her bottles and a pacifier against my wishes (it was their policy), they also didn't bring her to me for six hours. I was very young (nineteen), confused and frustrated over the way I was being treated. Enough was enough! I walked down to the nursery and rescued my baby girl. I walked right out the front door while the staff begged me to return to my bed. I thought I would be able to bond with her then, but my husband (now ex) always came up with some excuse to stop me from even holding her. He would demand that I go to bathrooms to nurse her and constantly made remarks like "look at her face, she doesn't like it". Any time I turned my back he would make a bottle, especially when he knew I was going to feed her soon. I ended up spending hours trying to convince her to nurse. Three days after she was born, I returned to work. I worked twelve hour shifts seven nights a week, and would curl up with my baby and sleep while she nursed all day. I was so tiered that I couldn't bond, had no friends, never saw my family (even though they lived five minutes away). On her five month birthday I took her and moved in with my parents. They were very supportive and I was able to change jobs to spend more times with my child. I got to know her for the first time, play with her, bond with her. I was glad that I had never given up on nursing her, she had given me the strength to change my life even if I didn't realize it then. Now I am married to a wonderful man who only encourages me to do what I feel is the right thing, and provides enough income for me to stay home with OUR three children.
Submitted by Fiona
I think I am lucky to live in New Zealand when I read of the difficulties US women seem to have with getting breast-feeding established! We don't have the greatest BF rates in the world, but we have a good system of midwifery care, and the baby care is given mostly by general practitioners (family doctors) rather than pediatricians - which seems to be advantageous in terms of advice re BF! I am currently nursing my 14 month son, who drinks 2-3 times a day and maybe once at night. He is our second son - Andrew, 4, weaned at 25 months.Although I am a midwife, and thought I knew a lot about BF before I gave birth, nothing had prepared me for the joy and pleasure I receive when nursing my children. To stroke their silky skin and hair, and cuddle them sleepily against me in bed at night is a very sensual experience, and one I wouldn't give up for anything! Many people remark "you're not STILL feeding him are you?" but I try not to get into an argument about it - although I am tempted to expand on all the wonderful benefits for all of us and "convert" people! I am now reading all I can in an attempt to prepare for the lactation consultant's qualification. Please, if you are wondering whether BF is worth the "effort" - it is!!
Submitted by Veronica
Muriel was born in the US, while I was a graduate student there. I am an engineer, thus I have the "read-the-handbook-first" approach. On learning that I was pregnant, I went to the bookstore and bought several books on babycare. They all gave the standard explanation on breastfeeding and made it sound difficult and cumbersome. Then I found out that Internet was a good source of information, and I was able to read about mothers nursing with or without problems, but doing it. When I was close to the due date, I attended a breastfeeding class sponsored by my health insurance company. It was enlightening. The lady there showed us that there was nothing to be afraid of, and I thought "I am going to do this". I had a forceps delivery after a night of back labor, with an epidural that, strangely enough, allowed me to push while squatting. I believe now that they told me to push too soon: I may have been dilated, but had no urge whatsoever. By the time the urge came, I was too exhausted to deliver the baby and too weak to move, so the dr suggested forceps, and we accepted. My mother was crying by the door of the LDR room, asking me to push hard to avoid the forceps, but I couldn't do it. Muriel was born with 9/9 Apgar scores and ready to latch on, in spite of the medication. She had to wait though, because I had a 4th degree tear of the rectum that needed to be repaired in an operating room. An hour after she was born I was finally able to nurse her. No one gave her anything while I was being "patched up", she was able to calm down in her daddy's arms, snuggled against his chest. She latched on well, but I was not positioning her properly and had sore nipples. The nurses did not pay much attention to me, other than telling me not to hold her while she was asleep (I ignored them :) ). Two and a half days later (I had great insurance) we were ready to be discharged. The dr came into the room and told us she had ABO jaundice. Her billirubin levels were not too high and we could take her home, provided that I was willing to nurse her every 2 to 2 1/2 hour (from start to start) because she needed to evacuate the meconium and the billirubin. I was so scared that I made sure that the baby was at the breast every 2 hrs by the clock! The next day, a home nurse and lactation expert came to visit, said she was less jaundiced, weighted her, stayed until she "produced" some meconium, looked at my breasts, gave me lanolin, checked and corrected the positioning and left, leaving us a little less scared. The baby still had to nurse every 2 hours. Two days later we went to the dr's office, where we learned that she had regained her birth weight!! The dr. said her jaundice was improving, and suggested to relax the nursing schedule. The rest is history. We survived a PhD dissertation, daycare, an international move and a full time job. Muriel is now 19 months old, and still going strong with the nursing relationship. I am volunteering at the local hospital helping new mothers with breatfeeding issues. And telling everybody that ABO jaundice is NOT a reason to stop breastfeeding!!
Submitted by Jana McCarthy
Not a long one. I think breastfeeding is the best. I started having babies in 1974 and had my eighth one in 1993. They were all breastfed for varying amounts of time, from 3.5 months (the first, because the doctor thought it wasn't very good!!!) to about 3 years (my two girls, the 5th and 8th). I'm happy to say they are all healthy, no braces, hardly ever sick and delightful (well, most of the time!!) 4 years ago I went back to school and became a childbirth educator and lactation consultant. I'd already been a nurse since 1972. I love working with moms and dads. I feel I'm giving back all the great love and help given to me.
Submitted by Jan Hunt, M.Sc.
Jason, our only child, was a "miracle" baby (but aren't they all?) He was conceived after eight years of trying, despite the specialists' opinion that we would never have a child of our own. I originally planned to nurse for six weeks, as I had been reading some very unenlightened books. Fortunately, our nursing relationship went well, and because we enjoyed the closeness of it so much, we continued with it. When Jason was ten months old, we moved across Canada from British Columbia to Ontario. At fourteen months, he began nursing very frequently both day and night. As he had always been a "marathon" nurser (30 to 60 minutes each feeding), these long, frequent nursings were extremely fatiguing, especially as I was an older mom - then 39. I decided it was time to stop nursing, although I dreaded the thought of weaning and losing our special closeness. Fortunately, because I'd been feeling lonely in our new location, I had recently started attending La Leche League meetings. When I decided to wean my son, I phoned Sandra Kenzie, my League Leader, for advice. She listened patiently, but offered no direct instruction or opinion. Remembering that I had recently borrowed Norma Jane Bumgarner's book, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, she simply remarked that this book had "a good discussion of weaning." Book in hand, I told my husband I was going upstairs to learn how to wean. A short while later, a very surprised mom returned to say, "We don't have to wean!" Although I wasn't sure I could handle the fatigue, I was relieved to know that, as always, I could trust my child to tell me when he was ready to move on to the next stage of development. Thanks to this wise and gentle help from Sandra and Norma Jane, we made it through that trying time, which of course proved to be temporary, apparently related to teething. Our nursing times became shorter and less frequent, and he eventually weaned naturally just past his seventh birthday. Jason is now a bright, confident, and delightful teenager. But I often wonder how much more difficult things might have been had I not found the La Leche League in time, and had weaned a child just when he needed me most. Nursing met his emotional and nutritional needs in the best possible way, was an invaluable tool during his active toddler years, and remained a pleasant "refresher" for both of us even during the last months when nursing was minimal but obviously still beneficial. He tapered off gradually, and weaned beautifully and naturally all on his own. Nursing kept us close and the closeness has remained to this day. His robust health and happy outlook speak for themselves. Thank you Sandra and Norma Jane for the wonderful gift you gave us!
Submitted by Doris Nabert
With a biology background there was no way I was going to miss out on breastfeeding. The bottle just made no sense to me. But it wasn't all that easy -- Adam was born 2 months premature, at 2 lb. 10 oz., and stuck in an incubator for 6 weeks -- so that meant I became well acquainted with the pump. A hectic schedule: rush into the hospital in the morning, "kangaroo" my son, pump, kangaroo, eat, pump, kangaroo... I couldn't wait until I could feed him directly. At 5 weeks old they let me try breastfeeding him for the first time. How delightful! (even if it was an failure, in terms of getting any milk into him). It took a few days, but finally we were really getting the hang of it (it was exhausting for him, compared to the naso-gastric tube he was used to -- but he took to it with great enthusiasm), and we were allowed to try an all-nighter. (The hospital wouldn't allow Adam to come home with me until I could breastfeed him exclusively for 24 hours.) It went fabulously well, and 2 days later he was home with me! Today he's 10 months old, big, beautiful, happy, bright -- still pretty well exclusively breastfed, since he has no interest in solids yet. I love every minute I'm with him; and especially those minutes when we're sharing this most special bond.
Submitted by Linda Hughes
My name is Linda and I have 3 sons ages 13, 11 and 8 months. I only nursed my older boys for about one month each and I always had guilty feelings about that. I never though that after 10 years I would turn up pregnant and have another child but I did and this time I am determined to breastfeed him for as long as possible. Through much research, reading and soul searching I have come to the conclusion that child-led weaning is the best way to end a nursing relationship. For this reason, I plan to nurse Alex until he decides that he is done, no matter what. I may encounter some comments from family and friends about this in the future as he gets older but I don’t really care. The important thing is that I have the support of my husband, who is a wonderful father to his three sons. Alexander was 5 weeks premature because I came down with pre-eclampsia and had to be induced. He was born weighing 6 lbs 1 oz and he was very healthy and got the highest apgar score you can get. He nursed as soon as they cleaned him up and gave him to me and we have not looked back since. He loves to cuddle and nurse all the time! I find that some nursing sessions are for nourishment and some are just for comfort and snuggling. While I did suffer with sore nipples when he was 2 months old, I got some help from my La Leche League leader and the problem was cured within a couple of days. I would recommend that any nursing mom get a good support system otherwise if you encounter problems, you might feel like you can’t deal with it and be tempted to wean the baby. Nursing has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done and I will remember this time in my life for as long as I live. I have been keeping a monthly journal so that I can look back and reflect on this time when I am old and my son is all grown up. Anyone interested in reading it can go to this site. http://www.geocities.com/heartland/ranch/4362
Submitted by Amy Gutierrez

None of my four siblings or I were breastfed at all. My mom's excuse seems crazy to me now that I successfully breastfed my daughter for 12 months after weeks of pain, confusion, and low milk supply. I am so happy and proud to say I did not give up. When I was growing up, my mom constantly told everyone including myself that I was her only child that slept through the night. She would just give me the bottle and place me in my crib. I would fall asleep by myself. She also commented that I was given evaporated milk. She also told me that I was always constipated throughout my infant year. Not to mention my cronic ear infections which left me semi-deaf from my right ear. When I found out I was pregnant, I was entering my second trimester. I headed to the public library and researched on everything which mentioned anything about pregnancy. I came across so many books and articles which clearly stated the ongoing advantages to breastfeeding and the many disadvantages to bottlefeeding. There is where I found out that my constipation as a baby was due to the milk my mom was so ignorantly feeding me via the bottle which I was holding while lying on my side in my crib. I also realized that that was the reason for my ear infections thoughout my childhood. At that moment, I vowed to breastfeed my children. I wanted to save my child from the ear pain I suffered as a child. I became educated on how to breasfeed my child. At my 36th week of my pregnancy, the doctor diagnosed that I had a rare pregnancy disease called Hellp syndrome and the only cure was to deliver. I was under so many different forms of drugs for a few days until I was forced to deliver via cesarean. When my daughter was finally born prematurely, I did not get her until about four hours later. Despite my constant warnings to the nurses, some nurse still bottle fed my newborn. When I finally got her in my arms and on my breast, she cried and cried as if she was being tortured by me. I still insisted on breastfeeding her. The nurses, my mother, and my husband insisted that I formula feed her due to the lack of milk supply at the time. I refused and complained. The following day, my nipples began to feel hot. Upon dismissal from the hospital, the nurse insisted that I take the formula provided by the hospital. My husband took it. At home, it sat at the corner of the dresser. My husband constantly eyed it as he just heard our newborn literally yell in desparation and he saw my nipples red. I still did not give up as I sat on my bed re-reading all I had read for the past 7 months. Then the doctor told us she had jaundice, and that I must stop nursing her for a few days. That is when the formula came in handy. I began expressing until it was okay to continue. I refused to bottle feed my baby knowing that God had given me the luxury to feed my baby, so my husband had the honor of feeding her for two days. I was so afraid my daughter would get confused. To turn a horror story into a success story began the day of my daughter's doctor visit. She was back on my breast, we both learned how to latch on, and I was not as sore. The nurse weighed her. She had gained a full pound in less than a week. I knew she was growing because I had the power and the love to guide her through her growth. I was the full source of her nourishment and the reason for her weight gain week after week. What kept me going after her first month's anniversary was the struggle I had subjected myself to the first week of her life. My words were, "If I came this far, why not try one more month. "I found myself saying that until I reached six months. My words then were. "I successfully nursed my beautiful and healthy daughter for half a year, why not do it another half year," so I did. The result of my determination and my ultimate desire to give my daughter the very best had definitely been rewarding for the whole family. We have an unbreakable bond, she is very bright. She has not gotten ill. She learned to walk, talk, and potty at a very young age. Despite what others say. I know it is due to the love and devotion her mommy gave to her the first year of her life. I knew I was doing the right thing when she first looked up at me with her beautiful eyes and caressed my face while she nursed. It's as if she was saying to me, "Thank you mommy, for giving me the VERY BEST!"

Submitted by Peggy
My first memory of breastfeeding was seeing my aunt nurse her 5th (or was it 6th?) baby in her kitchen. I was 8 or 9 I think and I remember being quite fascinated. Which is probably why my mother spent quite some time complaining about it to my father during our two hour ride home. How could she just flop it out at the kitchen and IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN NO LESS?!?! I couldn't understand what the problem was! It seemed quite normal to me. Even though she had bottlefed all of my siblings! (Being the oldest I was the lucky one who got 2 weeks worth of mother's best)(She had only done that because her mother said she had to and "what do you think God put those there for? Unfortunately, she had to go back home when I was 2 weeks old) At any rate, a few years later, good little Catholic girl that I am, concerned about whether or not I would "develop", I promised Mary that if I actually did grow them, I would nurse all my babies! I look back and laugh but sometimes wonder if this wasn't partially what got me through those first 2 AWFUL weeks. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, a nurse, and a breastfeeder, I guess. My commitment to breastfeeding education was kindled when I was pregnant with my oldest and found out that the nursery nurses I had just started working with literally drew straws to see who HAD to go help the nursing mom who had asked for it. I volunteered even though I knew practically nothing about it. This was almost 22 years ago. My own first experience was having the baby being placed in my arms and being told to "call if you need any help" even though I knew better! I got horrendously sore as we din't know then about the importance of positioning. When asked how I finally figured it out I readily admitted that I hadn't but the baby finally had--- at 2 weeks old. I did have a LLL friend who brought me some lanolin, too. 3 more children followed with fewer and fewer difficulties each time. When #4 was 3, I met my goal of becoming an LC! By the way, my aunt was a working breastfeeding mother with all her children. She had some sort of fairly primitive electric breastpump on her kitchen counter. I remember asking her what it was! 35 yrs ago no less! Wish now that I had it, for curiosity sake.
Submitted by Kate
I had no intention of having children up until I was in college. I wasn't happy with the way I was raised and having children didn't seem like a very rewarding thing to do. I majored in Biochemisty but had to take a few hours of upper level Biology classes, so I chose a Human Endocrinology class taught by Sue Carter. Sue was the mother of toddlers at the time and talked about !Kung parenting practices, picking up children when they cried, sharing a bed with them, and then I heard that she nursed for *years*! What a shock! I had never even though about breastfeeding and assumed that all babies were bottlefed, but to nurse for 3 years. Wow. That made me stop and think, surely she knew something that led her to do that. We didn't go into the hormones released while nursing a lot but enough so I learned about the role of oxytocin and bonding in humans. Fast forward a decade. I took another human endocrinology class, and a month later I got pregnant. By then there was no question in my mind. *Why* would anyone decide to not breastfeed? The second time around I learned about the hazards of formula feeding- increased allergies, increased risk of cancer for parent and child, increased liklihood of juvenile onset diabetes, greater risk of organ transplant rejection, and on and on. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't nurse. Now I have two children and I love nursing. When I was pregnant and heard people say that I thought "how odd, what is there to love, that's just the way it's done." :-) Now I know. It's so sweet to snuggle my baby close, to hear her gulping her milk during the night, to watch her face light up when I get ready to nurse her, to smell her sweet skin and see her shining, alert eyes. *sigh* I couldn't see doing anything else.
Submitted by Marisa
Ever since I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breast feed and was very determined that I would. I have always had bad health problems and wanted my baby to have the added benifits of breast milk. After my baby and I had been home for about a week she began to through up everytime she ate(and I do mean through up not spit up). I found this very distressing and after three days I was sure it was not just a virus and called her Pediatrician, he told me to bring her in for a check up. My husband and I were horrified to find she had lost almost a pound from her berth weight. We were told all babies do this, so the following week we returned to the doctor to find she had lost even more weight so the doctor told us she must be allergic to my milk and insisted we switch her to a special and very expensive formula. After two days on the formula she began to projectile vomit so we called the doctor again. He had us bring her back in to find out she had lost even more weight, at this point the doctor put her on medicine and refered us to a specialist. Before we ever made it to the specialist I had decided I had enough of formula feeding and cleaning up vomit my three week old was projecting across the room so I put her back on the breast(I hoped I would be able to put her back on the breast and had pumped the entire time she was on formula to keep my milk supply up). When we made it the the specialist she was horrified to find that my daughter's pediatrician had actually taken her off the breast. My daughter has been diagnosed with Reflux (GER)and to this day continues to take two medications and I still express my milk for her. I rotate between breast feeding and bottle feeding, in each bottle we mix two and a half ounces of breast milk with two and a half teaspoons of rice cereal. I still don't like having to express to feed her through a bottle because I strongly feel that the breast is best, but I know I can give her the next best thing by breast feeding through a bottle and my husband can actually actively participate in breast feeding. This excites my husband because he did not get this chance with his son. Noone and nothing can compare to what you can give your child and never let anyone tell you that there is something better, even if your child has a special need like mine does you can still give your child the very best.
Submitted by Cecilia Mitchell Barfield
"A day or two after I found out I was pregnant with Jessica, my Aunt Mary came to visit from New Mexico with her 7 mo son, Will. She nursed him in front of everyone and was so natural and comfortable about it. It had a profound effect on me. When I told everyone a few days later that I was pregnant, she said, "You're going to breastfeed, right?" I said, "Well, I'm going to try." She said, "Try, my ass! You're going to do it! That *trying* crap is a bunch of bull for people who have given up before they started!" I hadn't realized how much my attitude about nursing had been affected by hearing my own mother's stories about nursing each of us for only 6 weeks before her milk dried up or how she didn't make enough milk for us. Now I know why - the 4 hour schedule, the 10-15 minutes on the breast, the supplementing with evaporated milk, etc. Yuck. Anyway, my aunt's words and actions motivated me to read all I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. It's amazing that the timing of certain events probably made the difference between me breastfeeding for 6 weeks or 4 years... who knew my wild, cool and crazy aunt would decide at 32 that she really *did* want to have a baby after all? And that she would come visit right after I found out I was pregnant? I have told her many times that I am eternally grateful to her for educating me with word and deed. I feel obligated to do the same for as many women as I can possibly reach. :)
Submitted by Lisa M. Fournier
This is a little different from you other bf stories, because I never actually got the chance to bf.  My baby died just after she was born, so I never was able to nurse her.  The pain of engorgement was awful, and I encouraged all my friends to nurse when they had babies so they'd never have to go through that.  I wish so much that I'd gotten the chance to nurse, and if God willing we ever have another baby I plan to nurse well into toddlerhood.  I am well supported by my husband, my "sister" (really my best friend and labor coach) and her husband, all of whom think it is ridiculous to *pay* for formula when you can grow your own milk for free, and not have to fool around with bottles, either.  I also will have no hesitation about nursing in public, with the possible exception that I'll try not to do it when my husband's around, because I'm afraid he'd make a scene if anyone dared to suggest I shouldn't.  Of course, I'd probably make a scene too, so the point may be moot!  I am so soft-hearted and daffy about babies that I leaked for a long time--a year or more.  This was especially bad when I bottle-fed a baby at daycare whom I knew was bf at home.  However, babies generally seem to be daffy about me as well, and often fall asleep in my arms when their mamas claim that the baby *hates* strangers.  My support group says that my little angel is hanging around telling the babies that I'm all right. :-) I can't wait to get a chance to bf, and my "sister" and I have discussed how we'd like to have our babies close to each other so we could babysit and not worry about bottles.  Well, not *too* close, since will be my labor coach!  
Submitted by Ruth L.
I can remember clearly being 8yrs old and feeling my heart thumping through my chest. I rushed home to mum and announced that I could feel my milk filling my breasts! When mum gave birth to my sister when I was 11 she didn't breastfeed for long and neither did she when she had 2 more babies. I have ALWAYS been fascinated by breasts and nurturing babies: i have probably embarrassed many people by gazing at nursing couples over the years but, I am still the same today. I loved breastfeeding my own children, I love assisting mothers to achieve a breastfeeding relationship with their own babies and I love teaching and talking and learning about it!
Submitted by Joy
I really never considered anything else, but after reading a book called 'Discovering childbirth and the joy of breastfeeding' by Pauline O'Brien (an Australian book, 1974), I was totally convinced. It tells the story of Pauline's two birth and postpartum experiences - the first full of interventions and everything going wrong, and the second a natural birth which was a good experience, with successful breastfeeding. I am also originally a zoology graduate, so knew a fair bit about the biology and physiology involved, and worked as a medical laboratory technologist for 10 years. In addition, *I* was breastfed for 9 months. My mother's instructions from health professionals in 1952 in Western Australia were that the baby was to have 9 months in the womb (well, I actually had 9 and a half, ;-), and 9 months on the breast. So being an obedient mother, that's what she did! Mind you, she had 'failed' miserably at breastfeeding my older brother, as he had been a sleepy baby, which led to bottle-feeding in the first few days. Although I must have been drugged to the eyeballs (mum could not recall the actual birth - she was out to it from drugs), my mother described me as a 'leech' when I was a newborn - and a very *determined* baby/child later. (So what's changed?)
Submitted by Linda
First heard about this in a high school child development class, which was an unusual elective for this female jock. Didn't think much about it till near the end of my first pregnancy. The local army base had free parenting classes where watching movies of medicated births convinced me to "go natural," and watching the instructions for sterilizing bottles convinced me that there simply had to be another way to feed babies. I was repulsed by the idea of spending that much time in the kitchen making up bottles. Found a pamphlet from the local La Leche League in my handouts from the army clinic. Went to my first LLL meeting at 8 months pregnant, and was immediately hooked on the idea of breastfeeding. Fascinated by the women who nursed toddlers, and loved watching the gorgeous babies. There was no turning back for the next 26 years and counting!
Submitted by Jay
While growing up I never saw a woman BF, ever. Didn't know a thing about it, in fact. Many of you know my beginning reason for BF my first son, so I won't go into that again :) . But, suffice it to say, that tho it may have started out with reasons that were not all that great, it turned out to be the best thing I ever did in my life (besides having and keeping my son!) As for my 2nd son, that was a whole different story. I was still the only person I knew who had BF a child, and had still never seen another woman BF, except in a couple of movies. But I knew how much my time BF my oldest son had meant to me (and how angry I was that I had allowed myself to be pressured into weaning my 1st by 14 mo by a jerk of a boyfriend), so I knew that I would BF my 2nd child. My hubby had never seen a baby BF before, but was supportive of my choice. When baby #2 arrived, we had major BF problems (and I mean MAJOR!). After almost 4 mo of Hell, we were finally a true, painfree BF couple. The Hell I went thru to BF this kid was what spurred me into getting involved in WIC as a PC, and becoming a CLE and doing private counseling as well as working with crisis moms at WIC. Now, pregnant with #3, due in Jan, and still BF my 27 mo old, will I BF baby #3? What do you think? To heck with all the health related benefits, it is the emotional benefit for my child and I that I care about. The bond that comes from BF a child lasts a lifetime, with a lifetime of benefits. With the work that I do now, I have seen more BF babies and moms than I can count! What a great thing to see!
Submitted by Katherine
I am very pleased to be able to publicly thank my dear friend Martha Toomey. Her husband was in graduate school in Anthropology with me and my husband in Indiana in the late 1970s. She had a son who was about 4 months old when I became pregnant with Miranda (now 16!). I had, truthfully, never given a moment's thought to having children at all, nor to how I would feed them. I had never seen anyone breastfeed a child, except Martha. I didn't know then that I had been breastfed for 18 months back in 1955-56 (thanks Mom!). Martha took me to La Leche League meetings and the rest is history. I never thought for a minute about using bottles. Thanks Martha!! Little did she suspect that this would become an academic interest as well.
Submitted by Wendy
Well, I never even thought I would have children. I was very career oriented and coming from a split family thought marriage was for the birds..... When I did get married and eventually pregnant I was sure I would bottlefeed. I had never known anyone to breastfeed. But since I was pregnant I started getting much more into the MCH literature and all of it was so positive. Plus my Lamaze teacher was so pro-breastfeeding and my OBs too. So I said I'd try it for 6 weeks. That turned to 3 months, to 6 months, etc... It just seemed so right. Now I could not imagine mothering without nursing.....
Submitted by Nancy
I think that one of the largest influences on my decision to breastfeed was my mother. There are three children in my family born in 1947, 1950 and 1954 (me). My mother breastfed my sister (the oldest) for 6 weeks and then stopped because she was topping my sister up with the formula she was sent home from the hospital with. My mother was desperate to have a happy baby so she weaned. Some how, pre-La Leche League, my mother seemed to understand that the formula and bottles were what destroyed her first breastfeeding experience and she never gave my brother or myself any of those bottles. My brother was breastfed 10 months and I was breastfed 6 months. My mother was always very proud of breastfeeding us. We were all healthier than my cousins and my mother was quick to point out that we were healthier because we were breastfed. I also have memories of hearing her on the phone telling friends "oh no, don't use the formula they sent you home with- it will get the baby all messed up"!! So, even though I have a lifetime of mother/daughter conflict to work through, my mother did give me a clear impression of the value of breastfeeding. My mother "taught" me the instinct, La Leche League sustained me in areas where my mother couldn't Interestingly (and sadly) my sister didn't breastfeed her kids born in 1968 and 1970.
Submitted by Pam
It wasn't popular to breastfeed in 1973. In fact, in the small Virginia town where I lived, I didn't personally know any women who had nursed their babies. And it had never crossed MY mind until my husband and I took an expectant parents' class at the local community college. The class, taught by two Red Cross nurses, was made up of about 10 couples, all about as ignorant of parenting as we were. We learned the basics: how to bathe a baby, change diapers, and how to mix formula. Both nurses had actually breastfed their children for a while, and mentioned it as a feeding option. They even said it was "better" than formula feeding. But no instruction was given, and when they asked if anyone planned to breastfeed, not a single hand went up. However, the seed was planted. And somehow I just knew that breastfeeding was the right thing to do. Afterwards my husband and I discussed it a little, and he, being a good farm boy, commented that he liked the idea, and hoped I would try it. (He knew all about colostrum and how calves couldn't survive without it.) I can't remember discussing it again, or even reading anything about it before my son was born. But when the time came, I just did it. Thankfully, Joe knew more about breastfeeding than I did. He latched right on, and nursed for 5 minutes on each side, just like the nurse had instructed. In time, after jaundice (of course), sore nipples, and engorgement, we got the hang of it. Each of my children was nurtured at my breasts for a long, long time, and received the very best I had to give. As I look back, I'm glad I gave my children the best possible start. They have all turned out to be responsible young adults who are confident, well-behaved, and unafraid to try new things.
Submitted by Jeanette
As for why I decided to breastfeed - I was the typical young college student - (1966- Michigan State University) the book I read on Family Life (a course I took related to Social Work) said that breastfeeding was best, and I believed it. I also read that there was such a group called "La Leche League" which helped women breastfeed. As the Spanish word easily stuck in my Puerto Rican mind, when I read, two years later, a newlywed (1968) and in St. Louis, Missouri, that there was a nearby La Leche League group, I wrote down the Leader's number. In 1971, the day I found out I was pregnant, I called that number. The nice lady on the other end of the line was very kind and told me she'd love to have me at the meetings and would call me back later - but she needed to go as she'd just come home with her new baby. I innocently asked "Oh, how many children do you have?" And she replied "This is my Eleventh." Well, I figured this was the person to speak to about breastfeeding. And what a group it was! Verna Gremaude went on to have 13 children and is the longest continually-active Leader of LLL. Faye Young, her co-Leader was also an inspiration, later taking on the Publicity portion of LLL for many years - and she still keeps us in stitches. But everything was not perfect - I needed their continual support through a terrible case of Jaundice (no, we never weaned) sore nipples and Colic (why does the baby stop crying when Verna holds him and cries when I do?). But they were the source of my newfound style of parenting - not the "behaviorist style" I had learned in college - but the kinder, gentler mom I wanted to be. I still reverted to the "other" style when faced with a new challenge - but when reason prevailed I'd get back "in tune" with my kids. Breastfeeding changes us in ways we have no way of measuring or foretelling.
Submitted by Anna
Before I got pregnant, I had always assumed I would bottlefeed. In fact, the thought of breastfeeding disgusted me and it sounded very difficult and "unhygienic". I am severely asthmatic, and take lots of drugs at times, so I assumed that would preclude me from breastfeeding (I thought Ventolin would harm the baby). I wasn't sure about getting pregnant, so I visited an asthma specialist and asked him. My one concern was not about how I would cope with pregnancy, but how to avoid my child being as sickly as I am. He strongly advised me to breastfeed, in fact he said "For most women, breastfeeding is a choice, for you there is not choice - you must breastfeed if you want to give your child any chance of avoiding your allergies. There is no formula in existence that I can guarantee as allergy free, and one bottle of formula could sensitize your child.". I was a little daunted by this advice, but decided to follow it despite my reservations. I saw it as a form of martyrdom, I think! :-) During pregnancy, I met some "nutters" who were heavily into breastfeeding :-) They reinforced my convictions and reassured me that it really wasn't so awful. I went to LLL meetings and read the books and was reasonably well informed when Emma was born (which was just as well because I had to fight all the way to avoid her getting formula). My GP was very anxious that I was "pressurizing myself" and gave me the impression that many women were unable to breastfeed. He thought this pressure would stop me producing milk! Learning to bf was a struggle, but the information (not to say pressure) from my asthma specialist kept me at it. I initially disliked breastfeeding (it was painful and difficult) and my confidence was incredibly low, plus Emma had terrible colic which didn't help. I learned to tolerate it, but never enjoyed it, but knowing my child was getting the very best made me feel a success as a mother despite post partum depression. I am currently breastfeeding Alice. I still don't particularly enjoy it (though more so than the first time), but I feel good about doing it and have no fears I will be forced to give up prematurely. Incidentally, Emma has only very mild allergies (to soap powder and eczema inside her ears) despite lousy genes. Let's hope Alice does the same. Lots of people cannot understand how I can breastfeed my child for a year and not particularly enjoy it. All I can say is that they have not had to live my life - I feel I must do all I can to protect my children from such poor health and it's worth it to me even if it reduces the odds by 10%.
Submitted by Betty
I also had no previous exposure to breastfeeding, and had never thought much about it one way or the other. The first time I was pregnant (miscarried), I remember reading about bf in a popular pregnancy book -- when I got to the part about cracked and bleeding nipples, I was so horrified I had to just close the book. But I knew even then that I would give it a try, because I'd read enough to know it was the best thing to do. When I got pregnant again, I was much more used to the idea, and so was not so overwhelmed by the potential difficulties. I still couldn't imagine what it would be like, though. And I was very anxious about it -- more so than about the birth, itself. At one point I dreamed that I had the baby -- he just slipped out painlessly while I was in the shower -- and then, in my dream, he latched on right away and knew just what to do. After that, I felt much better about the upcoming experience. I felt, "I will be able to do this (bf)." But I still had to contend with all my acquaintances at work who already had children and who told me about their bf experiences. They were all negative! One woman told me that the only good thing about having had a C-Section was that they gave you a prescription for codeine tablets, which you would need to get through the pain of breastfeeding! Another good friend said bf was so painful it made her toes curl. So some days while I was pregnant I would think, "well, I'll bf for one year." Then some days, I'd think, "OK, 6 months." Then I'd think, "OK, 2 years," then "OK, 6 weeks." At the time, I was thinking only of the baby needing breastmilk for general health reasons -- it hadn't occurred to me that I'd enjoy it, and that the baby and I would both get emotional benefits from it, too. The smart thing I did was to visit an LLL meeting a couple of weeks before my baby was due. It was a small group that night, but one woman made a very strong impression on me. She had a 4-year old daughter who still nursed once or twice a day. I'd never even considered anyone nursing that long -- I had just never thought about it at all. But she and her daughter clearly had a special relationship, and I could tell just from the short time I saw them that her daughter was a happy and joyful child. The next smart thing I did was call an LC a couple of days after my son was born. I wasn't having any particular problems, but I needed some reassurance. (I got very little support in the hospital, and of course, had to leave after 24 hours, so we got home at 10 pm on a Sunday night.) The LC made sure we were on the right track, and told me about another LLL group in the area. I went, and again met a mother (the leader) who was to have a big influence on me. She was nursing a toddler and pregnant with her 4th. I could see, watching her, that she was the kind of mother I wanted to be (even though I couldn't have articulated exactly what that meant at the time). Well, now I'm nursing a 22-month old, and hoping he'll nurse long enough to remember it. I think nothing in this world compares to nursing your baby to sleep. It grieves me to hear of babies and mothers who miss this experience for whatever reason. When I was pregnant, I heard only negative bf stories from other mothers -- no one ever told me what a wonderful and joyous experience it is. So whenever I can strike up a conversation with a pregnant woman, I ask if it's her first, if she's interested in nursing, and I tell her how great bf is. I want to make sure she hears at least one good story about it. So that's my story. I feel incredibly lucky to have the experience of breastfeeding a baby. All along the path that lead me to having a baby and choosing to breastfeed, there were so many other ways I might have gone, but luckily (re bf) I knew good advice when I heard it/read it/saw it, and also luckily, I was ready to hear it.
Submitted by Anne A.
My breastfeeding experience had a lot to do with a strong stubborn streak: the more difficulty I had, the more determined I became to make it work. As a student nurse in 1966, I "assisted" a few new mothers with putting babies to breast in the style we were taught in those days: baby first brought to the mother at age 12 hours or more, water given first by bottle "to be sure the baby didn't have esophageal atresia", feedings scheduled every four hours for a total of 5 nursings per day, no more than five minutes per side for the first 3 days, one side only per feeding so that each breast was nursed once every 8 hours, etc. For the few mothers who chose "rooming in," the babies could be with them only about 8 hours a day. Never at night. But I also read Karen Pryor's new book, "Nursing Your Baby," and it made a big impression on me. It was so different from what we were doing. As a new pediatric nurse at U. of Washington Hospital in Seattle in 1967, I was impressed by the deathly ill babies referred to our unit who could not tolerate any kind of formula. We mixed up all kinds of complicated concoctions for them, putting them on donated breast milk as a last resort, and lo and behold, every one of them improved dramatically when this was done. But the local LLL had misgivings about continually supplying donated milk to these babies when the mothers were not willing to try to relactate, and relationships with our unit were strained. As a grad student in maternal-child nursing in 1970, I attended LLL meetings in Denver, just to see what they were all about. I wasn't married and had no children, and was initially viewed with suspicion as a kind of heath care system spy, but in the end was accepted. I must admit, I was quite taken aback to see children who could talk and swim at the pool and were still nursing. When I had my own first baby in 1980, I knew I would breastfeed. In fact, I thought I knew just about everything. I had read lots of books by then, taught my pediatric nursing students how to support nursing mothers (so I thought), and was sure I didn't need to attend LLL meetings. I figured I'd take a 6 month leave of absence from my university teaching job and wean my baby to a cup at that point. Well, I had an abruptio placenta, a forceps delivery, a baby who swallowed a lot of blood and was jaundiced and under bili lights, who had no voice due to bruising and swelling that damaged his cranial nerve. He developed a staph infection under the eye pads, requiring antibiotics. He was sleepy and refused to nurse. At that time no one knew how to help with latch-on and positioning the way we do now. I had to wait for him to yawn, then jam him on. His mouth would snap shut like a mousetrap, and I had sore, bleeding nipples. I was told to give formula after every feeding, and had to bring him in for weight checks every two days. It took over a month until he regained his birth weight. I was totally exhausted and had frequent bouts of mastitis. My two stepchildren (age 10 and 12) kept asking if I had breast cancer, as their mother had died of 4 years earlier. My husband didn't know how to help, as these two previous children had been bottle-fed. In desperation I drove across town to attend the LLL series meeting titled "The Art of Breastfeeding and Overcoming Difficulties." I kept on going to LLL, and eventually my baby and I learned to nurse together. The convenience, the love, the comfort, and the breastfeeding games were all new and unexpected surprises. Even though these are described in books, reading didn't prepare me for the impact of experiencing them personally. I did not have relatives or many friends who knew much about breastfeeding first hand, but I sought out and made new, supportive friends through LLL. Josh was still nursing at age 2 1/2 when I became pregnant with "one last baby." This time I was SURE I knew everything. But it turned out that I was carrying twins. Luckily, another mother in our LLL group was also pregnant with twins, 10 weeks ahead of me. She was my mentor, support and consultant. Although I had an emergency C-section (due to the first baby being a footling breach), both babies were good size (6 lbs, 5 lbs 3 oz) and nursed well from the start. Of course, nursing newborns when there are 3 other kids at home, one of them a 3 year old, was a new challenge in itself. Eventually, we gathered together several other mothers who were nursing twins and arranged special LLL meetings to talk about the unique challenges of breastfeeding multiples. I've been a leader of this group for almost 7 years. Yes, my kids are all weaned now! Josh nursed until a little over age 3, and Ben and Jon until around 4, though the last year was only to fall asleep at night (generally about 5 or 10 minutes). I find that I love facilitating a group where mothers in this special situation can come together and help each other. They are a wonderful source of support and encouragement to each other, and I feel honored to help make it possible for them to meet on a monthly basis. I have finally learned that I do not know it all and never will, and can let each mother and baby teach me more.
Submitted by Sue
I really give credit to my first daughter for my breastfeeding. As a nurse working in pediatrics I "knew" that colostrum and breast milk were important for newborns. I remember now what awful advice I was taught in nursing school to give about breastfeeding, but at least I learned that much. I decided I would nurse for 6 weeks to give Amy that good start, and she taught me all about breastfeeding and kept us going for two years.
Submitted by Devorah
I remember when my mother gave birth to my youngest brother in 1967, when I was almost 8, and she gave bottles. She wore nursing pads. I asked her what they were for, and she said that they were to catch dripping milk. I innocently asked why she doesn't just feed that milk to the baby. Answer - because women today don't have milk. Hmmm, how strange; all this extra milk wasn't enough. Also, all the work involved with artificial baby milk feeding was overwhelming. I never saw anybody breastfeeding until I was 18, and, as might be expected of someone programmed by this culture, I was simultaneously curious and repulsed. Then I lived for a short period of time with a family where the mother was breastfeeding around the clock, even at the dinner table. She had full time domestic help plus me, sort of a mother's helper. I thought this was absurd. Just give the baby a propped bottle and get on with life. So what converted me? I'm not proud of this, but hearing that breastfeeding could rescue me from the terrible periods I suffered was a big factor. So one could say that it's a case of doing something for the wrong reason, and then converting to the right reason. I didn't know anything about protection from disease and allergy. When I had my first baby, I put him to my breast and something indescribable just happened. I just HAD to breastfeed, no matter what. We traveled by plane when he was 3 mo old, and my husband insisted that I give him expressed breast milk on the plane so as not to expose myself in public. It felt so cold and impersonal. So now what I don't understand is why more women don't get hooked? (I know, there are real obstacles, but I still see it as a preference for using a wheelchair as opposed to one's own legs.)
Submitted by Carol
the reason I breastfed was because my allergist told me to. I asked him if there was any way to avoid having my child suffer from the same allergies (including cow's milk) that I, my husband, and both grandmothers had as babies. He said, "If you want your child to have ice cream at birthday parties, your only hope is to breastfeed at least 6 months or longer". I figured I had endured 9 months of pregnancy, so I could "endure" 6 months of BF. No one in my family had bf, nor any of my friends. My husband basically said, "Whatever you want to do". We attended a one-hour class on bf, and that was all we knew. In nursing school, we hardly talked about bf at all, & I only had one patient who bf, and I never saw her actually do it. Despite having an abscess after delivery, and having to "pump & dump" for a week while on Flagyl (during which Tim got soy artificial baby milk), bf went wonderfully. Fortunately, I knew nothing about nipple confusion, & apparently neither did Tim, because he went back to breast with no problems. Needless to say, I found I didn't have to "endure" bf at all. In fact, it changed my whole life--made a mother out of a confirmed "rugrat hater", changed an orthopedic nurse into a mother-baby nurse, and even convinced me to have a second child! Both, by the way, still test allergy-free (Tim is now eleven, and doing 9th grade algebra in school!)
Submitted by Ruth
No one breastfed any of their children in my family. As a teenager I babysat a child that was breastfed, the mother finished pumping when I got to there house, I had a million questions for her and asked if i could taste the milk in a cup. 15 years later when I had a child I automatically breastfed my daughter without thinking about it. What an impression being exposed to breastfeeding one evening made on me.
Submitted by Anne
I spent the years from 7 - 15 in the orient, and saw moms breastfeeding everywhere. Babies were carried (back or front) and nursed at the first whimper. I used to love watching them. I somehow knew this was the way I would feed my babies. My son was born in Germany in 1973, in a German clinic. I spoke no German, and could find no one other than my husband who spoke any English. In spite of my best efforts, I had to do things their way: 1st nursing after 48 hrs; (I actually put him to breast under my covers at 24 hrs, and he nursed, but my roommate kept calling the nurses to "tell" on me, and they would come in and fuss, shaking their fingers at my "ignorance" in doing this); feedings only every 4 hrs, and only on 1 side per feed; (I tried to sneak him on the other side, with the same result as above);after each nursing, a midwife came and pumped the side just nursed with a bicycle horn type pump till it was "empty". I said NO to this procedure, but was forcefully held down by two midwives, and the pumping was done with lots of painful squeezing, so I gave in and didn't fight it. The pump was kept in my bedside stand for 5 days, and wouldn't have been washed unless I had rinsed it at the sink in the room. I signed myself out on day 5 rather than staying the required 10 days to "rest". I soon got mastitis, which recurred very frequently over the next 6-8 weeks. The baby was very colicky, crying 20 out of each 24 hrs. Of course everyone's response to all of this was to put him on formula. I managed to hang in, at least partially breastfeeding for 5 months, and then he refused to nurse. I could find no BF support except for my old blue copy of "Womanly Art".(If I had known 1/3 of what I know now!!) I couldn't wait to have another baby so I could try again to breastfeed. After trying unsuccessfully for 5 1/2 years to get pregnant, we were able to adopt a beautiful little girl at 28 days of age. I put her to breast in the car on the way home from the agency (no car seat laws then), and she nursed on my empty breast for 45 minutes. By the time we got home, she was MY baby. I used the Lact-aid, and my milk began coming in after a few days. I never got a full supply, but was able to stop supplements when I started rice cereal at 4 months. I didn't tell my pediatrician till after I had weaned. We nursed for 9 months, and then I let myself be convinced to wean by a fertility specialist, who promised to help me get pregnant if only I was not lactating. Four years later, we adopted our second daughter; this time my milk came in on day 3, and we ended up nursing for 2 1/2 years. I think the main reason I became a Mother/Baby nurse and IBCLC was to try to save a few other moms from having to go through what I did.
Submitted by Kim
I was a bottle baby and never saw any one breastfeed. My mother died of breast cancer when I was 10, so I always had an assumption that my breasts would be "inadequate." When I got pregnant, I read some material about breastfeeding and it's wonders and woes, but I didn't make a firm decision. As a matter of fact, when I went into the hospital the labor nurse asked if I planned to bottle or breastfeed, and even then I didn't know! I had a terrible birth experience--not what I was wanting *at all*, complete with pit, demerol, *and* an epidural (which worked wonderfully on my right leg from the knee down). When the nurse handed me my son I just felt compelled to put him to breast. He nursed fairly well in the hospital but by day three, he was still sleepy, my nipples were deteriorating rapidly due to poor latch, etc. If only I knew then what I know now :( I was at wits end--this close to throwing in the towel. I remembered hearing about a lactation consultant in my birth class and decided to call. After lots of questions and lots of coaching we finally got the hang of it. My (and my husband's) entire view of parenting changed that day. I can honestly say that my bond with my son and my parenting style is directly attributed to Linda Pohl, IBCLC, Phoenix, Arizona. To her I can never express enough gratitude -- she gave me the ticket to a fantastic experience!
Submitted by Patricia G.
I have asked myself this for years (28) and my answer is mixed. I was left by my parents in the care of grandparents from age 7 to 11. After that I was not very close to my family of origin. I, however, continued to find "Mothers" wherever I could. One of the great ones was Aunt Erma. She breastfed her baby and I was her "doula", at age 12. Her baby was colicky and the ped said her milk was bad and she must wean immediately. I nursed her through 24 hours of terrible mastitis. She was so disappointed. Then the second great "Mother" was Judy Greene, wife of a college advisor. And she breastfed her babies and went to a group called La Leche League in Raleigh, N.C. This was in 1961. These wonderful mentors, both of whom enjoyed mothering, inspired me to choose to breastfeed in 1968, when it not only wasn't encouraged, but downright frowned upon. I found a LLL group, later became a leader, and missed few monthly meetings until I went on reserve in '94. I believe, however, that another factor was rejection of my mother and sister. What could I do to be opposite them? I basked in their judgement and warnings for a long time. I gloated when my second child walked before she began solid foods. My attitude wasn't too admirable, was it? But it surely helped get me through some rough beginnings. I'm sure that Aunt Erma and Judy didn't know that my seeing their babies at their breasts spoke to my budding "Mother" and gave me to courage to follow my inner wisdom. Ohhh, what I would have missed!!!
Submitted by Carol
I made a definite decision to bf in the middle of my first pregnancy after being confronted by a fellow PCV(Peace Corps Volunteer) with the statement "You are going to bf aren't you?!?" I then started reading a ton of books(there wasn't much else to do in Yemen in1978 in our free time) provided by our very progressive director's wife. By the time I got back to the States at 7 mo. preg.,I was prepared for anything! We had no insurance, my husband was a graduate TA and I decided that 12 hr in the hospital was long enough. I was armed with Karen Pryor and little else. Trina thrived and I cried--sore nipples and colic was a bit much, but the thought of formula feeding did not cross my mind (I think our finances had a lot to do with it!) After the colic settled down, bf and mothering were great and I could not think of one without the other. Melissa followed 23 mo later and Rachael 3 yrs after that. 4 yrs and a miscarriage later came Jeffrey. Bf was working just fine until I found a lump in my breast that was diagnosed as cancer (bf moms are not s'posed to get breast cancer, right?) Up to this point, I secretly knew I was a better mother than all those bottle-feeding mothers because I was feeding my baby the "best'' in the best possible way. At 4 mo I had to wean my baby from the only way I knew how to feed and "mother" because my body was defective. I had a mastectomy and 6 mo of chemo and 8 years later I am here to write about it. I cried buckets of tears when I had to feed Jeff with a bottle, and I think he understood my anxiety because in the 8 months that he was on the bottle he never once held it himself. He was always held close to feed and rocked to sleep for months. He is a most loving and sensitive child . Sooooo to conclude this long saga-- I have known the joys of motherhood from the breastfeeding standpoint first , then from the standpoint of "Will I see my children graduate from high school?" Breastfeeding and breast cancer have both given me a deeper appreciation of relationships.
Submitted by Rhoda
I had seen an aunt nurse but only for the briefest glimpse before she disappeared into the bedroom. The greatest factor was an article about LLL that I read in Readers Digest when I was 15 or 16. I had no intention of getting married and even less of having children (the ethics of overpopulation and all that) but breastfeeding seemed logical for those who did choose to have children. When I found myself married and quickly pregnant at 21 (quite swept off my feet ;) we decided we had better do some research on the process -- attended two different prenatal courses and read every book possible. The LLL conference was held in Toronto that year and the local leader and her family got their picture on the front page of the local paper with a story about their attendance (this was a VERY small town). So at 8 mos I attended my first League meeting. Charles was early, but not a premie. Skinny, ill from distress and aspirating meconium, and in what seems now a very primitive NICU. Everyone else could take care of him but I could breastfeed. The restrictions were ludicrous in retrospect. Nothing over 2 minutes a side ( in case he tired) I sat on a bar stool in the midst of the nursery and if a lab tech came in they set up screens immediately in my face (not for my comfort but the lab techs -- I might have embarrassed them). I lied through my teeth -- yes he has been at the breast 25 minutes but he's not been awake 2 minutes a side!. He recovered quickly -- much faster than expected, grew like a weed and is now in 2nd yr Univ. I fed him into toddlerhood -- til he looked up one day said 'done' and never nursed again. I was the first person on either side of our families to breastfeed in 3 generations. Eventually my family gave up discouraging me. The babies were too healthy and I was too stubborn. They never did accept tandem nursing -- it was strictly closet nursing when we visited. But this was almost 20 years ago and I think things would be different now, although my inlaws are still ill at ease with my LC work. Often co-workers get discouraged and complain how little things have changed but they are wrong. Maybe over the short term things seem bleak but looking back 20 years I am amazed at the difference. NO ONE I knew had ever nursed through a pregnancy let alone tandem nursed. My friends and I were the only ones who had nursed 3 year olds let alone 4 or 5 or... year olds. To do so was incomprehensible to most people, especially health professionals. Now it is commonplace although not average. It's like water on a stone, change can be discouragingly slow but it is still change. -- Rhoda- on Canada's wet west coast where we actually saw the sun for an hour today!!
Submitted by Leslie
The main reason I chose to bf was to avoid allergies; while I was pregnant I was in love with all the science of breast milk and breastfeeding. It was only after my son was born that these reasons started to be much less important and I fell in love with the experience. I remember reading the old LLL News (the pre New Beginnings magazine)with all the gooey stories and thinking how sappy it was, until I had my own child, of course. Then I couldn't get enough of those "sappy" stories!
Submitted by Louise
As a medical student with a "delinquent" strand, I read everything I could about unmedicated labor, and breastfeeding (including "Spiritual Midwifery"... and was labeled "a poet" by a friendly though rough obstetrician). Obviously, I ended up helping my friends to bf. So, of course, when my time came, the least I could do was breastfeeding. My husband was all for it, all my sisters-in-law had bf for a max of 10 mo, and my mother was adamantly though politely against it, thinking that I was doing it "just to prove something"... My first son weaned at five months, and I was so proud that I had not forced him. In fact, I had nursed him morning and evening 7 days a week, thinking that the supply would hold. It did not. My daughter weaned at 10 months, because a bottle was much easier to drag around than the mommy. I knew better than the first time, and was disappointed. And Felix is still nursing... 34 months, nursing every evening, and most mornings. He says "good" and "licious", smacking his lips after a feed, and graciously opens his mouth when he hears me go "ouch". No more interested in weaning than in toilet training. Is there any other way of mothering ?
Submitted by Carrie
I'm the second of six children, and always beamed when my mother called me her "little helper'. Sadly my Mother died of breast cancer when I was 17. How I would have loved having her around as my children came along. I missed her most when each of my children were born. I attended LLL meetings before I was even pregnant. Several friends of mine were expecting, or had a baby , so I just tagged along. At my first meeting my eyes were wide. The room was crammed with every imaginable nsg. couple. The LLL was tandem nsg. a baby and a 3 yo (who stood beside her and nursed while she spoke ). There were also nsg. twin toddlers that ""helped themselves"" including unbuttoning Mom"s shirt. Even with all this I couldn't wait to have my own baby to nurse. Jake was born in 1975 and I was in LOVE. As I sat and rocked and nursed my newborn, a friend (one I had attended LLL with ) asked if I was going to sit in that chair and hold him ALL DAY? Without a pause I told her that I sure was. I had waited so long to fulfill this dream, I didn't want to miss any of it. Three years later I became a LLL and Ross was born at home. Juli followed in another three years. At Christmas 1989, eight yo Jimmy joined our family. He is developmentally disabled (Fragile X Syndrome). Several years ago I finally received some of his early medical records and was pleased and surprised to learn that he had been BF also. At age 40 I decided to return to Nursing school, something that had been put on hold when my mother died. I retired from LLL to attend school. When I received my R.N. I didn't thing I would go into Maternal/Child health, but as you can guess all roads seen to lead me back that way. I plan to sit for the IBCLC this summer, and appreciate any tips anyone can give me.
Submitted by Pam
I come from a long family history of bottle feeding. I was 17 yrs. old when my uncle married a Korean woman. I really liked her from the beginning and when she had her first baby---I witnessed breastfeeding for the first time. I thought it was awesome!! As this baby grew, I noticed my aunt really parented differently than anyone else I knew. She concentrated on meeting the baby's needs and worked her daily routine to accommodate him---instead of making him adjust his schedule to fit her routine. She would often speak "for" her baby--saying things like, "Mommy do not put me down, there is nothing here to look at and I want to go with you". She taught me much. She also practiced family bed (though I did not know there was a name for it back then) and usually "wore" her child in a make-shift sling. Anyway, she was my inspiration 16 yrs ago when I had my first child---I already "knew" that breastfeeding and attachment parenting were the way to go---this wonderful lady had shown me the path.
Submitted by Patricia Y.
I've pondered why I BF. (It WAS a long time ago). It was something that I just thought (romantically) that a mom should do. I had never seen a mom BF when I had my 1st at age 18. I was the only mom on the floor of 30 doing "That" and the nurses couldn't understand why I did "that". Received no info. Went home breastfeeding, at least KK knew what to do! Had 1st of many breast infections at 2 weeks. Didn't think I had "enough" milk after the fever. Called my mom who said you already have nursed longer than I did. She didn't know how to help me. My RN sister-in-law thought BF was dumb. (this was 1959). My dear mother-in-law was so afraid of being an interfering mil (I found this out later) that she, who had nursed 3 for a year each, didn't say anything, so nursing ended to my distress at 2 1/2 weeks. We went on to phenomenal milk allergies, formula intolerance and colic for 7 months. It was awful. I wanted to BF my second and my knowledgeable RN sister in law said of course I couldn't nurse a baby with a 14 mo old sibling. It would be too hard - and I believed her. (This totally bottlefed baby went on to become my LLL co-leader about 25 years later!). Next baby - I was determined to BF. Had 8 breast infections in 11 weeks and the only thing the dr knew to tell me was wean. We went on to fantastic milk and soy allergies. He drank something called Gerber's meat base formula at $1/can/day (Dad made $50 a week then!). Baby 4. I was going to nurse come h--- or high water, after the allergy experience with #3. Heard about a "blue book". When I was 2 weeks overdue I drove an hour to get to a meeting of a new group (guess who). Had the same problems with breast infections and plugged ducts until he was 7 mo old and Judy Riley came home from a conference. and called me to ask what kind of nursing bras I wore. In those days they had wide elastic bands around the breast after the flap dropped down. I always had an ample supply and the elastic bands blocked up milk in the ducts. Threw them away, got new bras and problem solved. Became a leader, nursed baby 5 with little effort and the rest is history. 12 of 13 grandchildren breastfed. I think my kids absorbed a lot from watching siblings nurse. The dad of the non-BF baby was youngest and I guess didn't get the message.
Submitted by Deb
I didn't really choose to breastfeed, my husband did. He asked me if I would and I said, well, ok. He was the one who took me to the store to buy breastfeeding books. And when Katherine was up all night nursing when she was 2 weeks old and I was ready to wean, he offered to change his work hours and do whatever it took to help me continue breastfeeding. Thank goodness he was so insistent - my daughter and I LOVED every minute of our nursing relationship. I think the experience of it lingers today even though she doesn't nurse any more.
Submitted by Jacquie
Even when I was pregnant with my first child, I thought bottle feeding was the same as breastfeeding and hadn't really thought about what I would do, though I had planned the labor thoroughly. I remember a dream I had before I was pregnant about breastfeeding a baby - strangely, as I was never breastfed and had not really ever seen a baby breastfed. At the time I couldn't see how this related to my life as I didn't think I would ever have a child and didn't really want one. Once he knew I was pregnant, my father-in-law, who is a doctor, asked me if I would consider breastfeeding. At first I felt like choosing the alternative, as my husband and I already thought the in-laws were a little controlling. However he lent me a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and it made a great deal of sense to me, especially the information about allergies. Later on, hearing what other women said to me about enjoying breastfeeding made me even more determined to do it. But that is how I got started - through my father-in-law and a book.
Submitted by Karen
Mostly the feeling that it was the right and natural way to feed a baby. Once Evan was born and he had nursed, the incredible closeness, and the wonderful feeling that he was being fed something my body made just for him convinced me that I would never want to feed him any other way. I knew all the medical benefits about breastfeeding over formula, but I think it was more that it just felt "right". The long term nursing was not planned - it just happened. Again it just felt right.
Submitted by Merilee
My first baby was born in 1973. I don't remember having any real contact with any breastfeeding mothers. My sister had breastfed her babies but she lived in Connecticut and I was in Utah. I never even occurred to me to bottlefeed. I do remember hearing the stories about having to get up in the middle of the night to fix a bottle and about how much trouble mixing and sterilizing, refrigerating artificial baby milk was. I was seven months pregnant when we moved to California and on my first OB visit I was asked if I planned to breastfeed. I replied "Of course, is there any other way to feed a baby?". My doctor was very taken aback. I was surprised that he was surprised. He hooked me up with NMC and my counselor was Harriet Palmer (the founder of NMC). She was great and helped me through some hard times and invited me to join. Hence, my passion for breastfeeding began. I went on to breastfeed 6 children for various amounts of time and to be an active member of NMC for 22 years. I still remember to best moments in the middle of the night when I was alone with my baby (a real treat with the later children) and I was able to feed them, sing to them and enjoy them. Sometimes in my case I think that young and dumb was a real blessing. I was not sophisticated enough to know that I was making a really important decision, it just seemed like the natural thing to do. The great thing now is that I do know that I made a great decision for my kids and I often tease them when I see teenagers doing something really stupid (smoking, driving dangerously , etc) by saying "That poor person must have been bottlefed, aren't you glad that you were breastfed and are smarter than that?" Of course they can always come back with "YOu were bottlefed mom!" I just tell them that I know and how much smarter I would be if I had been breastfed.
Submitted by Lisa Jones
I had to think about this a little bit because I don't recall ever making the *decision* to breastfeed. My mother breastfed all four of us for varying lengths of time, I was the longest nursed (9 months). My father was in the military, this was in the early 1960's, and mom has told me that the military doctors were all young and pretty progressive, encouraging "natural" childbirth and thus the greater potential to breastfeed. My mom even read Grantly-Read then! Also, we were stationed both overseas (Okinawa) and far north US (Limestone, Maine) where the supply of foodstuffs was limited. My MIL who had babies also in the early 1960's had an old codger for a doctor and was knocked unconscious for all three of her deliveries. Baby was at least 24 hours hold before she got to see it never mind HOLD it, and there was no encouragement to breastfeed. Partly, my decision to breastfeed stemmed from the fact that I knew that I wanted to stay at home to care for my children and, well, my breasts were going to stay at home with me so why not use them? I also liked to prove the point that small breasted women can successfully nourish their young :) by the way, my obstetrician NEVER asked me how I intended to feed my baby.
Submitted by Carla
Wow, it seems seeing an admired friend/mentor/mother breastfeeding and loving it is very powerful. One of mine was a neighbor. Not only did she inspire me to breastfeed but also to read to my children, to respect them and to learn to love trucks! I also *always knew* from before I was sure I'd have kids that I'd breastfeed them IF I did. When I was first pregnant I attended a LLL meeting series. That further convinced me. Then my firstborn was hospitalized with jaundice from ABO incompatibility and maybe breastmilk jaundice, though who knows? My LLL rescued me with the loan of a Lloyd-B pump until I could get my own. My brother was breastfed in 1945 and my mother often told us about the nuns in the Catholic hospital where he was born. She was the only breastfeeding mother on the ward. She always said she would never dream of not breastfeeding. The nuns (who I assume were also the nurses) did nothing to encourage or help my mom, in fact they laughed at her "cow like" problem with "too much milk". Then, close to time for mom and my brother to be discharged, a premature infant was born in the same hospital. As a last ditch attempt to save his life they had my mother wet nurse him. They kept her in the hospital for another week tandem nursing him and my brother until he (the premie) was out of danger. I don't know why his mother couldn't/didn't breastfeed. Maybe she didn't want to or maybe she just needed help which wasn't available. Maybe he was too weak to elicit a letdown on his own or to make it on colostrum alone. My mom got Christmas cards from the other mother for years. So, somewhere out there I have a milk brother. I was breastfed in 1952. Mom also breastfed my younger brother in 1955.
Submitted by Darcy
The day I found out I was pregnant I was doing a catering. There was a mom there who just had her second baby. When I told her excitedly that I was pregnant, she asked "Are you going to breastfeed?" I, in my utter stupidity said, "Well, I'm going to try, but I hope I fail so that I can just bottlefeed". She replied, "With an attitude like that you WILL fail". I look back on that day with a mixture of horror and amusement. What I didn't know! A close friend of mine "failed" at breastfeeding and I KNEW she really TRIED (not much support on the home front). Since it "didn't work out" for her, I figured that it probably wouldn't work out for me either. Well, someone was looking out for me! When I called my insurance company to get the name of a midwife that was covered under my plan, they sent me to the BEST MIDWIFE IN THE WORLD!!! I was so naive and Debra O'Conner, CNM and home birth midwife, changed all of that. She gave me books to read, information to ponder, and gentle guidance when I was overwhelmed. When I had to be transported to the hospital during labor (labor-induced hypertension), Debra informed me that it may be difficult the achieve all I had worked for. After a horrible mismanaged hospital "labor" that ended with a c-section, they whisked my baby away and rolled me into recovery. Who knows how long afterward, they brought my son into me and TOLD me to try and nurse him because "he kept spitting the nipple and formula out". The doctor had labeled him as a problem feeder! I was flat on my back and my partner was holding the baby, who had IVs sticking out of him. Kurt (my partner) clumsily placed Dalton at my breast. The rest is history. Dalton knew just what to do and latched on for keeps! What elation I felt and what a windfall for all of us. I kept asking the nurse what the doctor meant by a "problem feeder". She just glared at me. I had to threaten, cajole, cry and beg the nurses from the nursery to bring him in to me at LEAST every 3 hours. It was hell. The head of the nursery came in to tell me that they just didn't have the staff to "cater to my every wish" and if I wanted to nurse my baby I could get up out of bed and walk down to the nursery. Which I did. Until the doctor found out and insisted that they bring the baby to me. This was less than 12 hours after the surgery. Dalton and I have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship to this day! It JUST hit me the other day that I am nursing a toddler! It is hard for me to believe that in this day and age so many HCP can be so anti-breastfeeding. It is such a shame.
Submitted by Linda
My mother bf all three of us (born in '61, '63, '66) and even bf me until I was 2! (Her mother stood over her chair murmuring "he's gonna starve, poor little thing" while she nursed my older brother. She wasn't invited back for the other births.....) So when I got pregnant it never occurred to me that I _wouldn't_ bf. I was told by many people how it hurt and was a little apprehensive. So I signed up for a one night bf course at the hospital, taught by Terry Sanborn an IBCLC (are you on Lactnet, Terry?). She mentioned the many benefits of bf - lessened allergies (which I have plenty of), higher IQ, lessened SIDS, weight loss for mom, immunological help for baby, etc. I went in thinking I would bf; I came out _knowing_ I would. The other factor that was very weighty in our decision was that it was *** FREE ***. With young, struggling professionals (especially if mom wants to stay home with baby) never, ever underestimate this as a good way to motivate! I figured, if it was excruciatingly painful I could always quit. We hit problems at about 3 weeks and I was sobbing in the bed as we nursed. Luckily a lady in the mall had hooked me up with a Nursing Mothers group and my counselor had me call Terry and she got us back to pain-free nursing. She said in the course, give yourself 6 weeks before you decide to quit - let yourself and the baby get the hang of it before you decide you hate it. So I originally signed on for 6 weeks. Two and a half years later (and still nursing :) ) I am so grateful for my mother for making bf part of mothering, for Terry whose course made a believer out of me, for the lady in the mall who had the nerve to ask a pregnant lady if she wanted a bf support group and for my counselor who helped me through those normal but still shaky early weeks. Now I counsel, trying to make a similar difference in the lives of other women. We drop a stone in a pond and never know how far the ripples might go.
Submitted by Janna
To preface this, I'll state that my oldest, now 6-1/2, nursed regularly until she was about 6 years and 10 days old (of course, only at bedtime for the last 2 years or so). My 3-1/2 year old continues to nurse mornings, bedtimes, and occasionally at other times (sickness or cuddles). This experience includes tandem nursing them until the younger was 3 years old. When I was 7, my uncle's Italian-American wife had the first of her four breastfed children. I remember my mother remarking that neither me nor my siblings were nursed, and that my aunt was a member of La Leche League. Oddly enough, I have no memories of her actually breastfeeding in my presence, although she must have. Then, when I was 11, my older sister had her first of three, whom she breastfed. None of my sister's kids was breastfed more than 6 months. (I also have NO pictures in my mind of my sister nursing! How odd!). In any case, I remember thinking as a teenager that I would have one child and breastfeed, just so I could experience the act of breastfeeding because that's what mammalian breasts were for (I've always loved biology as a study subject by the way)! In my twenties, when I was having TMJ troubles (Tempero-Mandibular Joint, the jaw), and my dentist said my NOT having been breastfed was a factor in this pain, I thought to myself, 'another good reason to breasfeed.' In the years just before my children were born, there were a few of my friends who nursed, but none seemed overly public in the way they did it, nor did they do it for more than a year (or so I thought). [Now I know a number of my church friends who not only breastfed for long time-spans, but also practice co-sleeping.] Before my firstborn, when I saw a breast- or bottlefeeding baby, I looked at them 'equally'. I didn't know of the incredible benefits of breastfeeding until my first was born and I started reading Womanly Art, etc. After she was born, then I began to notice the difference in the way a breastfed baby is nurtured from a bottlefed baby. Now when I see a bottlefed baby, particularly one who is propped up and left alone in a carriage, I cringe and I feel incredible sadness/pity for that child and for its parents who 'don't know any better'. And then I feel incredible anger towards a societal system that perpetuates the 'disassociation' of mothers/fathers with their children. With my firstborn, I also found out that with allergies, breastfeeding is a health/lifesaver. By eliminating dairy from my diet, I was able to 'cure' my infant's colitis (intestinal bleeding) and continue breastfeeding. If I was bottlefeeding, I would have had to purchase expensive allergenic formula. [Also by not being 'able' to eat ice cream, milk chocolate candy, etc., I could wear my pre-pregnancy clothes!] Having the experience of nursing is truly enlightening: I had been so afraid of parenthood, but when I was holding and nursing that baby, I wasn't afraid of anything, but content with everything! I remember when my first was about 2 or 3 months old, how one day I had this catharsis of sadness realizing that one day she would stop being a breastfeeding baby! Then I knew I wanted to have a second child because I loved breastfeeding so much (and of course, this meant that I loved the emotional nurturing of and bonding with children, as well as the physical joy of breastfeeding). [And of course, I'm really torn in my decision NOT to have a third child at age 40 as I'd love to nurture an infant again, but for many reasons we've felt it 'practical' not to have a 3rd!] And, when I look at my children, I feel amazement and joy at the 'fruit of my labors' that my own body and soul and breasts produced.
In 1989, when I had my first child, I was looking forward to breastfeeding her. I had a good friend who had breastfed her two children, I was breastfed myself for 4 months, and I knew about the health benefits from nursing school in the early 80's. I had a C-section, so I had to stay in the hospital for 4 days. During those 4 days, I had trouble getting her to latch on, because I was so engorged. I had to call the nurses to help me every time I nursed her. I don't know what I would have done if I had already been home. Just when we seemed to be getting the hang of things, we find out her bilirubin was high ( She was a month early). The doctor said we had to stop nursing until it came down, so we rented an electric breast pump and my husband fed her bottles of formula while I pumped. After 2 1/2 days of this, the bilirubin was down and we could resume bf. It took another 2 days for her to get the hang of nursing again. The doctor said to keep on trying. We persisted and she did get the hang of it again and we went on to nurse for six months. I worked as an RN full-time with 2 weeks of days and 2 weeks of nights, so I don't think my body knew if I was coming or going. My milk supply began to dwindle at 6 months. So the thing I said I would do for 6 months ended for good at 6 months and I cried and cried when it did. I had no idea how good it would be and how satisfying it would be when people looked at my butterball of a baby and know that my breasts helped her get that way. By the way, she is 7 1/2 and not chubby now. I looked forward to nursing my second child in 1992 after such a successful experience the first time, but such was not the case. She didn't gain weight as she should have and only weighed 11 1/2 pounds at 6 months. I had to start supplementing to make her put on some weight, and my milk was starting to dry up anyway (goofy nurses hours). I cried having to feed her formula. I would have liked to bf both of them longer. I was unaware of the emotional bond that develops with bf. I loved watching my oldest one nurse. When one of my friends quit at 4 months ( our babies were a week apart), I knew I couldn't do that to mine at that time. I also wondered how my youngest would know about bf, since we aren't going to have anymore children, but a neighbors cat has had several litters of kittens, and we would go over to see the kittens. often the kittens would be nursing. Then we would come home, and she would lay her stuffed cat down and lay little animals next to the stomach like the mother cat. So I think she got the hint.
Submitted by Betsy
My second, a boy was a real snuggler/nurser from the beginning. I can agree with the passion of nursing and the feeling the mom has for this wondeful nursing baby. At age 2, my son was still nursing before bed at night. Otherwise,he was an active toddler, in full-time daycare and loving every minute of every day with his pals and his wonderful care-givers. His nursing time at night was our special time together just to snuggle,talk,sing and generally enjoy the end of his day together.It also gave me time to sit quietly,regroup and listen to the activity in the kitchen while my husband cleaned up after supper and was actively involved in homework issues with our daughter(10 1/2 years older than this little guy). It was obvious that while he enjoyed the nursing, he was busy in the mind. He would take a few sucks, talk to me,take another few sucks,talk some more,and on it would go. One night I asked him if he was still getting any milk from Mommy.He said no and looked at me with a big grin. I said,"How about we stop doing this then and just read a book together instead?"He replied "Okay" and that was the end of that. No fuss,no muss, no hassles for either of us. I laugh when I think back about how I worried so about weaning each of our kids.They made the decisions for me. That was that.
Submitted by Andrea
I never knew anyone who breastfed, and I was pretty sure it wasn't for me. Then my friend's baby died of SIDS while I was pregnant. It affected me so deeply, and I had read somewhere you could help prevent SIDS by breastfeeding. That made my decision. I would "try" it. My well-meaning mother set me up for failure. "You know honey, you're not a failure if you can't breastfeed", she would say. Well, I agreed. I was not all that enthusiastic about the whole thing. Then my daughter was born. She was so beautiful and perfect!!!! Why hadn't anyone told me I would feel this way about her?! While in the hospital, she developed some jaundice and dropped a little weight. The unsupportive doctors reccommended supplementation, or they might have to keep her an extra day. All I knew was that they would seperate me from this baby when they pried her out of my cold, dead, arms. And so, if I had to nurse her continuously 24 hours a day to get rid of jaundice and get her birth weight up, that's what I'd do. And that's what I did. Even so, I felt I would only nurse for a few months (4) at the most. But now I am happily nursing a beautiful, healthy, and perfect 1 year old, and I see no end in sight to our special nursing relationship.
Submitted by Diane

Why I Breastfeed…

The first answer that comes to mind is, “because it’s there!” Before I ever had a baby, I knew I’d breastfeed for just this reason. Pre-baby, I was not aware of the many benefits of breastfeeding.

Now that I am a breastfeeding mom, I see so clearly that breastfeeding simply “because it’s there” is only the tip of the iceberg! There really is so much more to the nursing relationship than just providing nourishment. I have become so aware of these benefits that I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would choose formula over breastfeeding without becoming educated and trying first.

The way I see it is in a best case scenario, your baby will latch on immediately after birth and mommy and baby are off to a wonderful nursing relationship. The worst case scenario is that for one reason or another, it might take up to 8 weeks to establish a good nursing relationship and a few more to make it great! Even in the worst case, why someone would use the excuse, “it just took up too much time,” confounds me. After all, you have just committed the rest of your life to being a parent (hopefully at least the next 50 years). What’s 8 weeks of at least the next 50 years? Especially when the benefits of breastfeeding will last a lifetime.

The best way to ensure a great nursing relationship is to educate yourself and to build a support system during pregnancy. Don’t wait until the baby is here. If you have problems, such as the flat and inverted nipples I had to deal with, the personnel at the hospital or birthing center are probably not equipped to help you deal with any of the many problems that might occur. And before you know it, you’re bringing a baby and formula home from the hospital. I attribute a lot of the education and support I received from friends and the La Leche League, prior to the birth of my baby on my success on overcoming nipple and latch on problems. I was also very lucky in that many of the nurses that attended me were pro-breastfeeding.

There are so many benefits to breastfeeding that I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll start with some of the benefits that became obvious all on their own.

1) I finally had a great excuse for why the dishes weren’t done, or the laundry, or the bed’s not made…Breastfeeding forced me to sit down and relax; many times a day.

2) Due to this forced relaxation, I learned to prioritize what is truly important.

3) I learned, very quickly, to know when my daughter was hungry. She told me, not a clock. This meant that I dealt with very little crying, instead, just a few distinct head movements and she was happily nursing away.

4) It’s free, always the right temperature, always the right amount (no wasting), and always the right consistency.

5) NEVER any bottles to clean and prepare 6) Going out is so easy, just need a diaper or two and a change of clothes and away we go!

Here are some of the benefits that I learned while educating myself.

1) Breastfeeding immediately after birth helps your uterus to contract.

2) The nursing mom produces the hormone prolactin. This has been called the “mothering” hormone. It is the hormone that allows the calming and peaceful sensation to overtake you.

3) Breastmilk is so much more than just nourishment. It is chock full of antibodies to help give your baby’s immature immune system a boost.

4) Studies have shown that breastfeeding moms have lower incidence of pre-menopausal ovarian, uterine and breast cancers. AND this lowered incident is passed on to the nursing baby girl!!!

5) Breastfed babies don’t get constipated.

6) Breastfed babies do not need vitamin supplements. The list of benefits goes on and on. But the best thing I have learned through my breastfeeding relationship is a great respect for my body. My body housed and produced a healthy baby after 9 months. Now my body produces not only a life sustaining substance, but a substance that is helping my baby to grow and thrive. After providing myself with the best prenatal care possible, why would I then turn over the health of my baby to a formula company who’s only concern is money. I see my breastmilk as tangible love and breastfeeding is but the first and most important way for me to give this love to my child.

Submitted by Cindy Curtis
Well, if you made it this far ...... heres my story. I always *just knew* I would breastfeed. I'm not sure really why or how I knew, I just did. I think my mothering instincts kicked in and I knew when I got pregnant that it wasn't just the right thing to do but it was the only thing to do. When I had my first child I knew practically nothing about breastfeeding and the hospital I delivered him at knew even less. We got off to a rocky start but I was determined no matter what, that it would work. After a few rough days at home I got connected to a local LLL leader and she helped me wean him off of the nipple shield that the hospital had given me and insisted that I use. One he was off of that, her nursed great for a year! Thank God for the LLL leader who helped me. With my second child, a daughter , I knew a lot more about breastfeeding and she latched on and nursed wonderfully for the first 4 and a half months then all of a sudden one afternoon she refused the breast. She was getting a few bottles of breastmilk each week when I was at work but other than that she only had momma. I tried everything I could think of and called several lactation consultants and LLL leaders and I still could not get her to nurse for more than a few minutes if she was drowsy. So I pumped for a few weeks but with work, a home, and a toddler , this didn't work very well, and I switched her to artificial baby milk..... This truly broke my heart and to this day I regret it and wish I would of tried longer and harder to keep her breastfeeding. I feel that it was these experiences that made me determined to become a Lactation Consultant and help other women.

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