Just yesterday I was reminded of how much I love to breastfeed and that no matter what ANYONE thinks, I am going to nurse my baby whenever she needs to be nourished.
Simple as that.
Hubby and I had been out all morning running errands and though she had eaten her favorite organic apple that I spiced with cinnamon beforehand, she always wants to top it off with some “boo boo.” We parked the van and I took her out of the car seat and began to nurse her sans le cover. I had my winter coat on and my zip-down hoodie that left me minimally exposed and I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal since I was covered up to a point that I was comfortable with.
Next thing I know, a lady jumps out of her van and walks in front of my car. She looks at me with disgust, raises her eyebrows and starts whispering and motioning towards me to her girlfriend who also begins to stare.
Oh hecky no.
I thought some things I’m not proud of and softly muttered “what the heck is her problem?” to my Hubby. I looked up at her and made complete eye contact and smiled until she got uncomfortable and continued on her way. This isn’t the first time that someone–and most times women– have stopped and made it known that they have a PROBLEM with breastfeeding in public.
What bothers me is that often, these women are most times mothers and they have the audacity to criticize.
Even more so, I am a proud breastfeeding mother and yes I do use a nursing cover (I use the BabyBond which I love), not to shield rude, un-accepting and ignorant people rather, for myself and my level of comfort and my yearning to maintain my own perception of dignity. But, if Michaela is hungry, you best believe I am going to feed her and if I don’t have a cover, so be it.
Funny thing is, I’ve been gawked at when I have a nursing cover on! This would be the first time it’s happened when I didn’t have one.
My first thought was how much I wanted to get out and just drop-kick the woman in the box. Forreals. I’m not going to lie but, my thought immediately after that was a feeling of indifference, even if it bothered me for a second–I do NOT care what people think and I know that I’m fully nurturing my child and using my breasts for that purpose.
I’m officially 10 months strong with Michaela and I’ve been asked the infamous question, when are you going to wean her?
I don’t want to wean her.
Though I’m kindly reminded of her ever-present arrival of razor-sharp teeth.
And boy are they ever sharp.
It hasn’t swayed me to want to wean. Michaela is a biter too and she thinks it’s funny when I wince at the pain. Then I laugh because she’s so darn cute but, breastfeeding hasn’t changed much at all since the bottom two teeth have come in. I’ve decided to continue breastfeeding until Michaela is ready to stop. I’m due to return to work in the next 2 months and luckily the hours are flexible and I’ll be able to continue on my breastfeeding journey.
So, when do you stop breastfeeding?
This is a very hard question and not any two people are the same, situations differ, things change and this relationship ends sooner or later for every person. I think that it is a very personal decision and something that baby and Mom both leave just the same as they’ve entered it, together.
As soon as you’ve decided to breastfeed you have already begun to sow great benefits for your baby.
If you’ve only nursed the baby for a few days:
- Baby receives colostrum, which is known as nature’s vaccine for the newborn.
- Through colostrum, baby will receive antibodies directly from Mom and will be able to fight off any illness she has/had.
- Helps mom’s uterus contract and her body heal faster, the body releases hormones that do this.
If you nurse for 3-4 months:
- Baby is less likely to develop ear infections, get any respiratory infections or illnesses making the rounds in the home & lowers risk to die from SIDS.
- Babies that are exclusively nursed for at least 4 months have half the amount of ear infections than those who were formula-fed.
- You’ve helped them build resistance to meningitis and pneumonia and any gastrointestinal sensitivities.
If you nurse for 6 months:
- Baby is less likely to develop any food allergies. You’ve provided the essential components that line baby’s intestinal tract that protects them from foreign proteins, which are known to cause allergies.
- At 6 months baby’s body begins to make this antibody on its own.
- Vaccines are more effective in babies fed for 6 months.
- Nursing for this long also helps aid in the prevention of childhood cancers.
- This is when it is recommended to introduce baby to solid foods, before this your milk is all that baby needs. But, all babies are different and give different signs of readiness.
If you nurse for 9-12+ months:
- You will see your baby’s brain develop tremendously through this period and a lot of it has been due to your milk.
- Studies show that breastfeeding effects baby’s IQ and development.
- Studies have also shown long-term benefits such as prevention of Crohn’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease, ulcerative colitis and many other conditions in adult life.
- They are also less likely to develop insulin-dependant diabetes.
These are just a few benefits listed–(there is plenty more) that you transfer to baby. So, no matter how long you’ve breastfed for, aside from the immense emotional benefit that you and baby reap, you can rest easy and know that you’ve provided benefit from day one. No matter where your journey ended.
Even if I get stares or hear mutters of disbelief that *gasp* I am nursing my baby in public, I know that I am making the best decision possible and in the best of my knowledge for my baby. So as long as Michaela wants to suckle, she will and I will continue nourishing her as nature intended.
Breastfeeding has been an irreplaceable experience, at times hard, at times easy and through the pain–the bond I’m sharing is worth it all.
It really is.
So, I say, you can stare and downplay one of the most beautiful and natural acts that is breastfeeding. We won’t care–because us breastfeeding mothers will continue to nourish our babies whenever and wherever they need it.
Best believe. *snap, snap* LOL.
Have you ever struggled? I’m more than 100% you have and I’d love to hear your experiences. I adore breastfeeding but, I do understand that sometimes things don’t work out or they don’t go as planned. I didn’t get to nurse my first as long as I’d liked to and had to switch to formula with her. She self-weaned and it was devastating but, beyond my control. Sadly then, I didn’t have much guidance or resources to explore my options.
I believe that judging or pushing someone into breastfeeding is just as bad as being against it. We all have free will to do as we please. So I know even formula-feeding mommas feel the wrath too. Just remember, we mothers, only want the same for our babies.
The very best.
And that is many different things for every person.
It’s all about acceptance. So, let me hear those stories! For more information, visit my Breastfeeding page for more sources.
Til then, cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela and partner and best friend to Darasak. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.