The Easy Way: A Breastfeeding Storyby Wendy Goldenthal, Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
Megan was cradling eight-month-old Jennifer, in one arm, while four-year-old, Jeremy was tugging on her hand, "Come on, Mommy, hurry up! I want to play on the swings!"
They quickly walked down the hill to the playground. Megan settled herself and Jennifer on the green bench and watched while Jeremy sprinted towards the swings. "Jeremy! Be careful! I don't want you swinging too high!"
She sighed happily, gave Jennifer a kiss, and noticed that her friend, Susan was walking— actually waddling— gently towards her. "Hi Megan. Do you mind if I sit next to you? I thought I'd take a walk during lunch today — the doctor said that exercise is so important. I'm not due for four months now, but I really feel better after I walk. Sitting at my desk all day gets really uncomfortable."
Megan moved the diaper bag over so that Susan had room to sit. "So how are you feeling?" Susan sighed, "I love being pregnant and I can't wait to have my baby — but I'm just not used to having to slow down my daily activities. It takes a bit of getting used to."
"I remember those days! Now that Jeremy is four and Jennifer is eight months old, sometimes I wish that I could slow down my daily activities!"
As she was finishing her sentence, Jennifer started to wake up and make little yawning noises. Megan looked at her watch. "Twelve-thirty on the dot. She's slept so long I know that she's going to want to nurse any minute now." Megan held her baby close to her and Jennifer happily began to nurse. "I am so thrilled that she nurses so well. I can't imagine having to deal with all those bottles and formula again like I did with Jeremy. Nursing Jennifer is so much easier."
"What do you mean?" Asked Susan. "I've heard that breastfeeding can be really difficult to do. You know, sore nipples, and those late night feedings."
"You're right — it really can be hard. That's what happened with Jeremy. I had the worst time nursing. He never latched on well, and my nipples were always cracked and sore. He was constantly crying and my mother-in-law insisted on giving him a bottle after every time I nursed. I was so frustrated that after a week I totally gave up. After all that, bottle feeding seemed easier."
"But I'll tell you, Susan, it's no picnic sterilizing bottle after bottle, and nipple after nipple. And getting up in the middle of the night happens whether you nurse or formula feed. Except when you bottle feed, you've got to get up out of bed, go downstairs, prepare the formula, make sure it's the perfect temperature, and after you've done all that, walk back upstairs and feed the baby. In addition, every time I went out, I had to make sure that I had bottles and formula with me. And at that time, I was so tired, I was lucky if I remembered to put on matching shoes!"
"It sounds like you had an awful experience nursing Jeremy. Why did you decide to try to breastfeed with Jennifer?" asked Susan as she took a bite of her sandwich.
"Well, I was lucky, actually. I had met another mom on the playground, and she told me about her experience nursing. It truly opened my eyes. One of the most important things she told me is that while nursing is natural, it is also a skill that needs to be learned, kind of like driving a car. Driving is easy, but you wouldn't want to get behind the wheels of a car without a driving lesson or two."
Megan held Jennifer up and patted her gently till she let out a ladylike burp.
"So, while I was pregnant with Jennifer, I took a wonderful breastfeeding class, and Bill came with me. In fact, lots of husbands showed up for the class. By the end of the class I realized that with Jeremy I had done almost everything wrong, and that's why I had so many problems. It was such a relief to know that breastfeeding could be so easy."
"Nursing Jennifer has been an absolute joy. And breast milk has kept her so healthy, too. She's never been sick and never had an ear infection. By the time Jeremy was her age, he had four miserable ear infections. I can't tell you how many times we had to see our pediatrician. They were almost ready to put a brass plaque on one of the rooms in our honor. It wasn't until last year that he was free of his chronic ear infections."
"I know this sounds selfish, but what I really love about breastfeeding is that it is so easy. Now when we go someplace, it's easy. Jennifer's food is always there for her, and even better "it's always at the right temperature. Also, we spent over eighteen hundred dollars on formula, so we're saving a lot of money this time by breastfeeding. Of course, it's really nice to know that breast milk can reduce her risks of breast cancer and reduce my risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, too."
Jeremy came running over, "Mommy, when can you push me on the swing?"
"In a minute, honey," Megan responded. "Here have something to drink while I finish talking." She handed him a cup of juice.
"Oh, Susan, before I forget. One of the best things that came out of my breastfeeding class is that I found out about all of these great volunteer breastfeeding support groups that are right in our backyard. There are Nursing Mother Support groups and La Leche League, too. This time I was smart and I called them when I was pregnant. It was comforting to know there was another mom to call when I had questions. And believe me, I had tons of questions!"
Susan stood up and stretched her legs. "I've kind of been on the fence about breastfeeding. But when the American Academy of Pediatrics made the announcement that babies should be breastfed for at least the first year, I started to think more about it. Now that I've heard your story, I feel much more positive about nursing. I'm going to call my OB-Gyn when I get back to the office and sign up for a breastfeeding class. I think I'll also check out the pumping room at work that the nursing moms use. It sounds like I can't be too prepared!"
Susan gathered up her lunch bag and pocketbook. "Thanks again, Megan. I've got to get back to work. This has been a real eye opener for me."
"Susan, don't forget, there is tons of support for breastfeeding. Keep those numbers handy. Especially during those important first few days!"Wendy Merron Goldenthal is a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor and owner of Nursing Mother Supplies
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