Today we at “Ask Millie and Mollie” are proud to introduce a new contributing author: Maggie! She's a stay at home mom, a writer, a homeschooler and (obviously) a wizard at organization.
maggie and milly and molly and may
maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
for whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
e. e. cummings
Our Maggie is a mother with very young children. Millie is dealing with the teenage years. Mollie is a Parent Emeritus, successfully retired from the trenches and looking forward to grandparenthood. May – well, you'll meet May very soon.
I've been nursing for quite some time now. It has been both a blessing and a challenge--come to think of it, that's a way to describe raising children as well! I'm now nursing my fourth child, who is not quite three weeks old yet. That's not to say I successfully nursed all four children.
Nope, the first one didn't quite work out. In order to succeed at this nursing business, I find it is good to know what does NOT work, so I'm going to share why it didn't stick the first go around.
I didn't research breastfeeding while I was pregnant, nor did I have any sort of example to follow after. I kinda figured I'd muddle through and be fine. Research! Learn! Do your best to figure out what to expect. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
When I gave birth, I had an epidural. While it was lovely to be pain free, it meant that Baby was very sleepy and hard to teach how to nurse from the beginning. Another thing I would highly recommend researching before doing.
I did NOT have a good support network around me at the time. My husband (who was not my husband at the time) thought it best for me to go to his mother's house each evening when he went off to work at night, "just in case" I needed help. While the thought was kind, I did not have the privacy I needed to learn how to master breastfeeding. Part of researching and arming yourself beforehand gives you the self-confidence you need to tackle this in any given circumstance.
I had to go back to work after my six week maternity leave was up. Yes, I had an electric pump... but where to use it as a McDonald's employee?
Now, obviously, those were MY personal hang ups. Not everyone is going to face those same challenges, but know that there WILL be challenges as you begin this adventure.
My living circumstances were vastly different the second go around. By then I was a stay at home mom with a great support network of friends and family. I'd done more research this time and was less timid about nursing when others were around. I chose not to have an epidural for that birth, so Baby was not nearly as sleepy and reluctant to learn. Night and day difference. Same for the last two babies. All in all, I nursed my second child for twenty two months (and was seven months pregnant when I weaned him); seventeen months with my third child (and was five months pregnant when weaning her) and I plan on nursing this one for as long as she wants to, seeing as we don't plan on having any more children to "kick her off the boob", so to speak.
I once called into a radio talk show, which was talking about nursing in public. I don't remember what I said to the host, other than I was still nursing my 22 month old at the time, and that we had every right to NIP (nurse in public) anywhere I was allowed to be to begin with. The next caller had me livid when he said how disgusting it was that I was still nursing my child who was that old, implying I had sexual motives behind allowing that to continue. The nerve! I wanted to call back and shout from the roof tops that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends nursing for at LEAST the first two years of life. At least!
Know your rights. If an employee at a store/restaurant/wherever approaches you and tells you you can't breastfeed where you are, inform them they are WRONG and you can nurse wherever you darn well please. One time at Walmart, shortly after the birth of my third child, I saw an obviously new mama with an itty bitty baby, trying to discreetly nurse on a bench. Granted, it was in the middle of main aisle and there was no privacy to speak of, she still had every right to sit down and nurse. I heard a couple of idiot teenage girls loudly exclaiming over how "disgusting" that was. Oooo, I saw red. The poor mama heard them, too. Instead of reaming them (which I dearly wanted to do), I went up to that new mama and told her she was doing a great job and to keep it up and not listen to idiot teenage girls.
Breastfeeding truly can be an adventure. From leaking through nursing pads at your father's 50th birthday bash (and crying in embarrassment), to having no place to nurse at your sister in law's house so you go out to your car to relieve pressure into a baby diaper (seriously, lots of kids and a bathroom that was a walkthrough from one room to another) to becoming your child's "lovey" . . . breastfeeding will provide no end of interesting encounters, tender moments of bonding and honest times of "oh-my-gosh-I-want-my-body-BACK." It's not all fun and games. It's not all gazing lovingly into your child's eyes as they happily nurse away. There are cracked nipples, plugged milk ducts, mastitis and lopsided breasts to deal with.
But it's all worth it. It really is.