24 August 2011

I make milk. What's your superpower?

God, how I love breasts. Got your attention now, don't I? Bwahaha. SO not going where you were hoping. No, I mean, yeah, they're aesthetically pleasing if you're into that sort of thing, but the whole "can feed a kid for 6 months, all by itself" thing is seriously cool. Mine are made of awesomesauce. I could totally save a dozen kids in Somalia if I could manage to get there. Crackle weighed 25 lbs at 6 months, all from me. In the same time, I somehow didn't lose a freakin' ounce of weight and I'm pretty sure that defies some law of physics or gravity or something. I've been nursing one or two babies for 5 and a half years. First Crackle, then for about two days Crackle and Pop, and then just Pop. (Milk came back in and Crackle said, "BLECH!" and never nursed again - the little bugger dry nursed the entire way through my pregnancy - OW - and then when he got milk again didn't like it. Colour me bitter.)

I'm a big believer in breastfeeding. It's easier than formula, once you get the hang of it. No bottles to heat up and it's free. The food is perfect for the baby, and it's not got things like corn syrup solids in it. At least, I hope not. If yours does, lay off the corn syrup solids. Best of all, Nestlé doesn't make a red cent off it. I cannot stand that company. I personally boycott it. I know, they're crying in their Nescafé that they won't make that extra $75 this year. I think they'll manage.

I'm also a big believer that women don't get the support we need to breastfeed successfully a lot of the time. Mat leave is a joke if you don't have top-up benefits. Or a full-time job. I took sick days and then went back to work after 6 weeks. No mat leave at all, because I didn't have enough hours for EI. Many women go back to work well before we're ready, and well before the baby is even close to weaning.

The oft-touted 6 months? That's 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, i.e. the baby gets no other food whatsoever. The WHO actually recommends breastfeeding after those 6 months until at least two years. Who can do that? SAHMs like me. Women with their own offices with places to pump. Women with really really awesome employers who give them pumping breaks.

And even if you are lucky enough to have a good mat leave, a good job with breaks, and an employer who isn't making moo jokes at you, what if you're just having a damned hard time of it? Cracked nipples, thrush, mastitis, bad latches, and lazy nursers will really put a damper on the nursing relationship. Most women don't know what to do in these situations, and turn to formula. Who can blame them?  I sure as hell don't. The Mommy Brigade might, but they're just trying to make their own decisions seem like the One True Path.

I'm a True Believer in doing what's right for you and your family. I think breastfeeding is a really good idea, and a really good thing to do if you can make it work for you. Formula is second-class food. It is. You can't argue that. It really is. Here's an analogy:

You have a yard. In your yard, there's an organic garden. You can feed your child from your organic garden. Or, you can go to the store and buy them synthetic food made from other food-like substances. Seems like the garden is the obvious choice. However, if you can't water it (i.e. nurse enough or pump enough), it's going to dry up slowly but surely. And if every time you go out there, you come back in crying because it is just not working for you, then either you find yourself a gardening expert or you give up and head to the store. And that's okay. We all have to do what's best for us. We can't all give our kids the very best of everything all of the time. We make do and we battle on.

Oh yeah, that's another thing, the nursing in public bit. I swear to your god, that I will blow a gasket if I see one more idiot comparing breastfeeding in public to a man pissing in public. Not. The. Same. For one thing, if when you pop a boob out you start spraying everywhere, you're doing it wrong. Or you really need to lay off the galactogogues. Two, breastmilk = edible. Urine? Not so much. I mean, go to town if that floats your boat, but it's not meant to be a beverage. It's a waste product. Milk is food.

And do tell, where's the ick factor coming from? I see, "EW! I don't want to see that!" so often on articles about breastfeeding in public. Why? Because people see breasts as sexual, and the idea of a baby suckling at them gives them the heebie-jeebies. Because women need to do with their breasts what men approve of, obvs! Their biological function? That sounds rather science-y. Might wanna check with God. Uh ohz. The Bible approves of breastfeeding. But it also tells women to obey their husbands. ACK. Okay. Now I'm just being sarcastic. But it's true that there's breastfeeding in the bible. And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" [Luke 11:27, NKJV] So even Jesus was breastfed. Which is why I figure I can breastfeed my kid in church. Besides, it shuts him up. And that makes everyone happy.

x-posted at Dawg's Blawg