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During the last month of my maternity leave, I would go to the local mall just to get out of the house. I rarely left my apartment during the first two months of my son’s life, so by the time I was venturing out with him, we had a pretty solid breastfeeding routine.
I was comfortable by then feeding in public, and I knew at what times during the day I needed to find somewhere to settle in and feed him. I discovered that one of the best places to breastfeed in the mall was the ladies room at Nordstrom. Before you reached the actual bathrooms, you had to pass through a good-sized (and clean!) sitting area: It had comfy couches and chairs, enough room to park multiple strollers, and there was always another mom or two in the room feeding or changing their bub.
One day I struck up a conversation with one of the new moms. (You know how it starts, “How old is your baby?” quickly followed by “Is he your first?” and “How is he sleeping?”) She was feeding her son a bottle while I was breastfeeding and she said, “I tried to breastfeed, but it just didn’t work.” I said, yes, nursing can be really hard. I had found it really hard myself. And, she went on to say something about her husband and family not being too keen on breastfeeding, “so my husband said I should just quit, and I did.”
I think of that new mom when I hear about women who want to breastfeed, but can’t or find it challenging or are just overwhelmed and exhausted, so they stop—whether they want to or not. I firmly believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, but I believe even more that the needs of mama come first—and if breastfeeding isn’t working, by all means, stop. That’s what formula is for. But, if all a mom needs (and wants) is a little support to keep going, then she should be able to get it—if not from her partner or family, then a breastfeeding group or a lactation consultant or a friend or another new mom.
Best For Babes is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women overcome what they dub the “booby traps” of breastfeeding, one of which is not getting the support they need to keep nursing. This Friday, as part of our series of live Facebook chats for National Breastfeeding Month, we’ll be chatting with the co-founders of Best For Babes, Bettina Lauf Forbes and Danielle Rigg. They’ll be answering your questions about the biggest booby traps for nursing moms, and how you can keep breastfeeding despite the challenges—if that’s what you want to do. To join the discussion, like us on Facebook, post your question or comment, and Bettina and Danielle will answer them live.