We're welcoming a guest post by Taya Griffin, a breastfeeding consultant to discuss the impact that words and people may have on a breastfeeding mother.
When I think back to my breastfeeding relationship with my little Amelia there are so many incredible moments of delight that come to mind. Lazy afternoons napping together, gazing into one another’s eyes, the sweet way she rotated her foot a particular way just before she fell asleep, heavy in my arms.
There are of course other moments where breastfeeding was a challenge. We experienced a tongue tie, sore nipples, mastitis, sleepless nights and concerns over low supply along the way. But while all of these seemed major hurdles at the time, I would have to say that often it was just a few words about my breastfeeding said by another that seemed to bother me the most. One particular incident stands out in my mind.
Facing Breastfeeding Judgement
My sweet baby was 4 months old and I was lounging around, having tea and snacks with a few other women. I had been breastfeeding Amelia when we began this little “tea party” and she remained awake, alert and terribly cute! About half an hour later, give or take, Amelia began cueing to feed again so without even thinking I popped her onto the breast and she was happy as could be.
The conversation took a slight turn at this point as the next question to me was,
Didn’t she JUST feed about half an hour ago?.
The question was said with a degree of disdain and disbelief. Sigh.
Now that I think back I should have replied back with, “Didn’t you JUST have tea and aren’t you now JUST having a chocolate chip cookie”. But of course, I didn’t (but I wish I had because I truly feel we should treat babies the way that we would like to be treated!).
I had never questioned breastfeeding her on demand because as a breastfeeding consultant I knew that she should breastfeed on demand.
I also knew that when she cued to feed if I fed her she would be happy. Bottom line.
And so I just remarked that she needed to feed and I got on with it. But the question bothered me. It still does. I wondered how this woman had breastfed her children. I wondered what was stopping mothers from breastfeeding their babies when they needed to be fed (which should never be set around a clock or schedule but rather around their needs).
While there are many incidents like the one above (some around breastfeeding in public or breastfeeding a toddler or how her behaviour at the breast meant I didn't have enough milk), I must say that I was also sometimes pleasantly surprised.
I remember walking into a Starbucks with Amelia at the breast while she was in the carrier dozing. By the time my drink was ordered and I was walking out the door she was fast asleep and the little hood attached to her baby carrier was over her head.
As I walked out the door someone caught my eye and said to me,
That is a really beautiful thing that you are giving your daughter.
Of course, hormonal me, began to cry. Yes. It is a beautiful thing and she is such a beautiful baby.
And so words matter. I believe, as a breastfeeding consultant, that words can actually make or break a women's breastfeeding journey.
Guest post by Taya Griffin is a Mother, Homeopath and Breastfeeding Consultant. She teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes and runs a private practice in Toronto helping mothers reach their breastfeeding goals. You can connect with her at www.tayagriffin.com