I’ll Stick with Breastfeeding, Thanks!

I have to admit, I’m very fortunate. Breastfeeding is once again going quite smoothly for me. It’s one of those areas where I’ve not had serious problems. It’s a bit of effort to get started, occasionally painful, physically exhausting at times, but really not bad at all.

I know I’m quite fortunate.

Selene is one of those babies who just took a look in the hospital and just latched right on. No hesitation from that girl! She didn’t master the right latch immediately, but did well enough to quickly get milk.

Our one problem these days is that I produce well enough that she can be a lazy nurser at times. We should all have such problems, right?

I have to be pretty firm with her about that, though, as when she gets lazy she can leave me in pain. Poor latch at those times, and just enough stimulation to really get that milk production flowing.

She’s also one of those kids who falls asleep halfway through a feeding, then wakes up a half hour later wanting more. Sweet rascal is a pretty deep sleeper after a feed, and so far I can’t wake her up to finish the job with any consistency, at least not if I’m being gentle with her.

I’m just starting pumping these days so that she can learn to take a bottle. No formula needed in this house. But I do like to be able to run errands with NO children along. Nearest thing I get to a break most of the time. Showing off the baby is fun, but there comes a time when you just want to get things done by yourself and not have random strangers talking to you, even about a favorite topic.

The convenience and money saved is nice too. I know what formula costs, and must say I am very glad to not need to be paying for that! Pumping supplies cost a little, but especially since I have the pump from my other babies, pumping breastmilk isn’t much of an expense at all.

Overall, I love the connection created by breastfeeding. There’s a reason why I put up with the long nights, occasional pain, and chronic exhaustion. How can I not enjoy having those little eyes staring into mine as she gets started each time?

But some don’t feel so good about breastfeeding, particularly Hanna Rosin in her article “The Case Against Breastfeeding”. She sees it as not so feminist and not as beneficial as most people in the medical industry say.

Honestly, I think the problem is more about division of labor than breastfeeding. I’ve always thought formula feeding would be more inconvenient. All the preparation and cleanup involved. Maybe I’m too lazy to formula feed.

I certainly don’t consider breastfeeding to be a problem for a feminist. It’s a genuine difference between men and women. And if you’re really determined and your body cooperates, you can work while breastfeeding.

I do so at home. Two of my sisters did it while working outside the home, for about a year with each of their kids.

Even though I’m at home, I want workplaces to make more accommodations for women who are breastfeeding. It’s not that complex. A place that isn’t a bathroom set aside for pumping is ideal, if not possible for all businesses. A reasonable attitude toward the time it takes a mother to pump is also quite helpful.

That’s the part of breastfeeding that is relevant to feminism. The more comfortable it is for a mother to provide breast milk for her baby while at work, the easier it becomes for her to choose to work after starting a family.

The United States is well behind other countries in both maternity and paternity leave. Too many jobs are quite simply not family friendly at all.

No, being more family friendly won’t cause all women to breastfeed. It just doesn’t work out for everyone, for a variety of reasons. But giving up shouldn’t be about your work.

I know some will say that I’m biased, as working from home does make breastfeeding easier than trying to do it from outside the home. That’s true enough. But given all the benefits to both mother and child of breastfeeding, I’m firmly on the side of making it more possible. One less reason for women to give up careers they love. One less reason for employers to lose great employees.