August 1 marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week!

ImageI am proud to say I have breastfed all 6 of my children. I believe in extending breastfeeding so I know I am a minority in today’s society. According the the CDC their 2008 figures show that 76.9% US women had ever breastfed but only 47.2% were still breastfeeding at six months and 25.5% at twelve months. Figures for exclusive breastfeeding at three months were 36% and at six months only 16.3%. They recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months.  The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of life, and continued breastfeeding complemented with appropriate foods up to two years old and beyond.

I know a lot of moms just want their body back. I do not lose weight easily while breastfeeding. I am on of the unlucky ones I guess, but I have heard more moms say this than the ones I hear say they do lose weight. For me, it was more important to feed my baby than it was to lose weight.

After having 6 kids you see the differences in support you get. I have had good experiences from birth and not so good. I am so lucky that I have a husband who supports me 100%. He knows how important it is to me and when I get discouraged or am having a hard time, he is there to help me through it. Breastfeeding a child with an allergy is hard! you put yourself last always, you go without, you feel defeated. But its worth it. To know I am doing the best thing for my baby, despite the looks when you are breastfeeding in public or the comments how you need to stop because they are getting older. I gave up really discussing it with others around me because it is frustrating.  I have to say that feeding an older child it completely different from a baby though. Babies eat, they eat all the time, and they aren’t always nice about it. My 10 year old breastfed until he was 3 years 7  months old. Not a lot of people knew that. He was only doing it twice a day but he would sit on my lap and say “Thank you for mommy milk” or “I love mommy milk.” It would melt my heart. My 3 1/2 year old just gave it up a week before the baby was born. He just kind of forgot it seemed. I think he would probably still be nursing now though. And sometimes I regret not letting him again after Mason was born.

I always tell other moms on my message boards about my experiences though. I am proud of what I have done. I have grown and fed 6 human beings! And when you look at that beautiful little person and know you are the reason they are thriving, it is a success. It does feel good.

A friend on my due date board just donated her frozen breastmilk. It had dairy in it and her baby can’t tolerate it. I think it is amazing what other mothers will do for each other! If I could actually get milk when I pump, I would love to have been able to donate milk to another family. I feel truly blessed I have an ample supply for my children but not everyone is so lucky.
Our family doctor is also really encouraging. When I was pregnant with #4 I had mentioned to him #3 was still breastfeeding. I was nervous on his thoughts and how he would react. He said that was great! And his own mother breastfed for many years. I have breastfed all of my babies while pregnant with the next. My husband and I joke about it because I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both since June 1998. All of my children have been different. Some were great at it, others not so much, some went for a long time and had to be encouraged to wean, others did it all on their own. I have struggled with thrush, mastitis, blocked ducts, bad latch, you name it. But I was able to get by because I found help. Not everyone will.  This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is  ‘BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: CLOSE TO MOTHERS’. You can help by supporting new moms, or even not so new moms that might be struggling.  Check out the World Breastfeeding Week site. There is a page on the WHO site that gives great detail on how others can help support a breastfeeding mother, here


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