Throughout my experiences as a mother and nurse I have come to believe that how a woman feels about breastfeeding and her stated or unstated goals develop from many factors. Factors like, family and friends, education and sometimes other support systems like La Leche League. I’ll tell you about my goals and the influences that got me there.
My breastfeeding goals
- Natural childbirth
- Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth
- Provide breastmilk exclusively for 6 months
- Breastfeed for 1-2 years
- Wean by age 2.
Breast feeding influences
My grandmother was a nurse and wanted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the support she needed to successfully nurse her babies. But she encouraged my mother and my mother breastfed me. It was unusual when I was a baby to be breastfed. My mother went to La Leche League for support. My mother-in-law breastfed my husband. As a newlywed, I just assumed that I would breastfeed my babies.
My breastfeeding goals became stated while I was attending nursing school. I had the best professor for women’s health. She was a great advocate for natural childbirth and breastfeeding. During her lectures I learned about the benefits of breastfeeding and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to breastfeed exclusively for six months and then with other foods for at least a year and longer if desired. During clinicals I was taught how to help a mother latch her baby and how to determine if the baby had a good latch.
And I saw a video. This video was from a study done in Sweden. In this study newborn babies and their mothers were randomly divided into two groups: medicated births and unmedicated births. Then each of these two groups was divided in two again: those who nursed within 15 minutes of birth and those who did not attempt to nurse until 30 min or more after birth. This was an amazing video. The babies from unmedicated births who were put on their mother’s stomachs within 15 minutes could find the breast and latch themselves UNASSISTED! (It is called breast crawl and you can see an example). After 30 minutes, the unmedicated babies would latch with assistance, but they needed assistance. The babies from medicated births who were given to the mothers within 15 minutes tried to latch themselves but could not find the breast alone. The medicated babies who were given to mother 30 minutes or later did not even try.
While I was pregnant I visited La Leche League meetings. It was here that I learned about baby led weaning and started to think about how long I wanted to nurse my babies.