I have finally come to peace with the fact that Lil Man is weaned. However, a friend (and I use that term loosely) made the comment "I am glad you weaned because now you won't share breastfeeding stuff on facebook."
Just because I am not currently breastfeeding does not mean I will not remain passionate about it. It does not mean I will no longer lend support to those who are breastfeeding and could use some help. Breastfeeding is still a passion of mine. I will ALWAYS encourage mothers to breastfeed, support them in their journey, and try to put a realistic perception to breastfeeding.
I have been moved recently that two different friends have come to me recently. Both were not able to breastfeed for very long due to medical issues that interfered with the breastfeeding relationship during the critical first months. However, both are currently supporting friends or family to breastfeed, or pump, and give that benefit to their babies. They truly are amazing women!
This is how it should be. Those who formula feed, combo feed, wean early, and such should be able to know where to get information, and encourage breastfeeding mothers. Those who breastfeed should be able to lean on ANY MOTHER for support. They should not have to seek out only those who have breastfed.
When those who choose to use formula are not supportive and encouraging of breastfeeding, it is the exact same thing as breastfeeders who tear down formula feeding mothers. We need to just be supportive of each other, accept each others choices, and do anything we can to help mothers achieve their choice.
Some ways that those of us who have weaned or gone to formula may discourage breastfeeding moms without realizing it our making comments like
- I weaned my daughter and she started sleeping through the night. (Formula feeding does not guarantee a child will sleep through the night.)
- Now that I use formula, I can have a day away from the baby. (Which a breastfeeding mom can do by pumping, or even supplementing)
- Since I formula feed, I can feed my baby anywhere. (So can a breastfeeding mother- without having to prepare a bottle)
Some ways moms (no matter what substance you feed your child) can help encourage other moms are
- To be educated on both formula and breastmilk.
- Understand what the mother's choice is. Support it.
- Remember that breastfeeding mothers have hard days, don't do the standard "You have made it this far. That is good. It is okay to switch to formula" until the mother has clearly made up her mind. I am thankful that on some of my hardest days I had people encourage me to keep at it. Otherwise, I may never have made it past 3 months.
- Know where to get answers. Breastfeeding comes with a lot of questions and obstacles. There are great resources out there. A great online resource is http://www.kellymom.com/
- DO NOT tear down another mother- no matter what substance she feeds her child
- Talk openly about breastfeeding - even if YOU don't breastfeed
- Understand that it is natural for a child to nurse into toddlerhood and that being able to ask to nurse is no different than a baby saying "baba" for bottle
- Be understanding and supportive of a mother who chooses to wean (after she has decided), even if it is before a year.
- Remember that we are all mothers. Support each other, even if you make different parenting choices.