It is world breastfeeding week. Our birth instructor, Katharine wrote this article in our local paper this week. In this article she talks about the disparity between the number of women who hope to breastfeed and those who are still nursing months later. She says, "Although most Oregon mothers set out to breastfeed, barely half are exclusively breastfeeding at three months and fewer than 25 percent at six months postpartum. A closer look reveals stark disparities by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic characteristics and geography. These statistics suggest a stark disconnect between what new mothers want and what actually happens." These numbers really struck me.
Breastfeeding is hard in many ways and for many reasons. Every new mother has her own story. I was adamant about breast feeding from the Beginning. I researched all I could about nursing, latch and milk supply. But I soon learned that there are things you simply can't learn from books. Breastfeeding was extremely painful for me. Between what my lactation consultant referred to as Margot's "barracuda suck" and a long painful course of introductal thrush, breastfeeding was painful for the first 4 months. More recently I have had a lot of issues with my milk supply. Even with as much knowledge and support as I am blessed to have I simply can't pump enough milk for Margot while I am at work. However, I have a very kind and supportive friend Valerie who gives us extra milk for Margot. Valerie has a baby a few days younger than Margot and is able to pump more milk when she's at work then her baby can drink. She has been so generous to give us her extra milk allowing Margot to keep having breast milk.
I feel very blessed to be able to give Margot breast milk, yet I can easily see how and why so many women aren't able to continue nursing. Until society understands the value of breastfeeding AND fully supports mothers in this endeavor we will continue to see these kinds of statistics.
Tomorrow is the Big Latch on which Margot and I will be attending along with my friend Valerie and her baby. It will be a great reminder of the community of breastfeeding mothers we have in our town and how important it is to support one another.