I found this little list via Megan at Sorta Crunchy. It made me realize how blessed I've been to have so much support in this whole breastfeeding thing. I'm still breastfeeding my daughter after year and, while it would be nice to think this is a result of my own dedication, tenacity, and willingness to sacrifice, I think it would have been a lot harder without the support I've had along the way.
So, I'll run through these twelve days and share how I've benefitted from the love and support of those around me.
1. A mother wanting to breastfeed. Hello, that's me! I very much wanted to breastfeed. It saddens me when I meet pregnant women who are already saying they don’t want to breastfeed. I can honestly say I don’t judge them for that ... but I also don’t understand the sentiment. At all.
2. Doula/midwives. Oh, yes. My OBGYN's office has three midwives on staff, plus a nurse who is also a lactation consultant. The nurse taught the class we took on breastfeeding. As for doulas, I didn't use one, but one of my co-workers is a doula and gave me all kinds of resources and encouragement, both while I was pregnant and after the baby was born.
3. Support groups. I didn't have an official support group, but I really didn't need one, considering all the support I got elsewhere. Read on.
4. FABM (Fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine) MDs. I don't know about official titles, but everyone at my OBGYN’s office was very supportive of, and encouraged, breastfeeding. And no one at their office handed out formula.
5. Baby-friendly hospitals. Again, I don’t know about official titles, but my hospital was definitely baby-friendly. No one tried to take my baby from me and put her in the nursery. She and I were separated only once in those first 24 hours, and that was so she could go have a hearing test. Anne was handed to me the moment she was born, and she was nursing before they ever cut the umbilical cord. And later, at around 3 a.m., when I needed some help with positioning for breastfeeding, the nurse on staff came in and helped me.
6. IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants). I've already mentioned the lactation consultant who taught our class. I've called her several times in the past year to ask questions, and to get advice on what to do when my milk supply was starting to diminish. (Yay for her suggestion of Fenugreek!) Also, a writer-friend of mine that I was in touch with on Facebook e-mailed me and said she was a lactation consultant and would love to come visit and, if I wanted, help me learn to breastfeed. So I took her up on it, and she was very helpful.
7. Partners protecting. This one's about my wonderful husband, who went to all the childbirth and breastfeeding classes with me. He "caught" Miss Anne when she came through the birth canal. He's the most awesome husband a woman could want, and he's a pretty good daddy, too. I’m amazed that he puts up with me.
8. Friends. Yes. I didn't know I even had friends before Anne was born. Now I realize I have more than I could have hoped for. My best friend has been my sister, who's shared her wisdom and experience and let me use her Cadillac of a breast pump (a hand-me-down to her from another mom friend). That pump has made pumping at work a much more manageable effort than otherwise.
9. Celebs a-nursing. Ho-hum. Who cares.
10. Nursing nooks. I live in a very small, very conservative town in the South, and I didn't know how people would react if I nursed Miss Anne in public. Turns out it hasn't been a problem. I had to stop wearing a "nursing cover" after about five months because Anne would rip it away anyway. Turns out I didn't need it. I try to be discreet, partly because not everyone wants to watch breastfeeding, but also because nursing is a private, special activity between me and my daughter. And no one--at work, in restaurants, at the park, in the coffee shop--has ever, ever given me a dirty look or said a criticizing word. I'm thankful for that.
11. Strangers cheering. I've had several people encourage me when they learn I'm breastfeeding. Most recently, new visitors to this blog have sent me cheering e-mails, saying how wonderful they thought it was that I'm still breastfeeding Miss Anne.
12. Supportive employers. Pumping on the job? Feeding my daughter when she comes to visit me during the day? Understanding when I'm suddenly without child care and have to be late for work? Check, check, check. I have a really great boss.
This article says that only 12% of moms breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months. I'm happy to have made it that far and longer, and I'm thankful for all the help and encouragement I've had to get there.
(Look at me, being thankful ... and it's not even Multitude Monday!)
To read more about important resources for breastfeeding--and get a printout of the "12 Breastfeeding Days of Christmas" song if you actually feel inclined to sing it--you can find it all at the Best for Babies website.