It may be one of the most natural things, but let’s face it – breastfeeding is hard work.
As a dietitian, the benefits of breastfeeding and recommendations had been drilled into me long before my daughter was born (not to mention, my grad school advisor was a breastfeeding expert). I read the studies about breastfeeding and health – both infant and maternal, reviewed the guidelines and understood the challenges. I made it my personal goal to provide breast milk to my daughter for the first year of her life. Despite colic (her), an out-of-whack thyroid (me), a cross-country move and all the Mother’s Milk tea, fenugreek pills and More Milke Plus drops to get me through a dwindling milk supply, it was a promise I kept to myself and her for 13 full months, even though by 7 months I was exclusively pumping and feeding her expressed breast milk in a bottle.
Even though breastfeeding was my decision – and the responsibility fell solely on me – there was no way I could’ve made it through those 13 months without support from my husband, as well as family, friends and other resources I sought out.
Not all women are so lucky. A recent USA Today article highlighted the importance of family support for breastfeeding women. And recently, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin issued a call-to-action to support breastfeeding – not just among family members, but also businesses and communities. I understand that breastfeeding is a highly personal decision, and that not all women want to, or can, nurse their infants. However, for women who do choose to breastfeed, they should be given all the support, encouragement and resources they need. Additionally, they should be able to breastfeed as long as they and their babies want to, and should not be limited by external pressures and obstacles.