This month's theme: Home for the Holidays.
What's a Carnival? It's a web event in which several bloggers write on a theme, and the posts are assembled in one place. To our knowledge, this is the first time breastfeeding bloggers have come together to form a carnival.
To kick off this monthly event, we feature five breastfeeding bloggers who have all written on the theme "Home for the Holidays." These posts offer stories, suggestions, and inspiration to make your holiday season as a nursing mother a happy and healthy one.
Recently I've had the pleasure of "meeting" the four other bloggers who are participating. They are all smart, kind, and passionate about supporting breastfeeding. Here are our posts:
- My Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog post, below, is titled "It All Starts Somewhere," about the challenges of dealing with unsupportive family members at the holidays.
- Jen from The Lactivist brings you helpful information on "Breastfeeding and Holiday Travel."
- Andi from Mama Knows Breast contributes an original poem, "'Twas the Breastfeeder's Nighttime."
- Angela from Breastfeeding 1-2-3 shares "Ten Tips for Breast Health" during the holiday season.
- Sinead from Breastfeeding Mums (particpating from Northern Ireland) brings you "Coping with Kids, Family Get-Togethers and Breastfeeding During the Holiday Season."
It all starts somewhere.
"You're not going to do that at Thanksgiving, are you?"
When I met Amy (not her real name) at the breastfeeding clinic, her baby was a few days old. Already, her parents had started asking whether she was planning on "doing that" at Thanksgiving. This was in August.
Needless to say, her parents were not exactly supportive of the idea of their daughter breastfeeding. When I asked her if she thought her parents could come around over time as they saw it more she said, flatly, "No."
This woman, a physician herself, had no doubts about her decision to breastfeed. And she had remarkably few problems doing it. Her challenge, one many of us face, was her family.
Another woman I tried to help, who was attempting to be the first in her family to breastfeed in generations, ended up stopping within a few days. When she told her family that she was switching to formula one relative told her, "Oh yeah, we didn't think you were going to be able to do it anyway."
Breastfeeding and the many demands of new motherhood can be challenging under the best of circumstances. But if you don't have family support you're really swimming upstream, and the current is strongest at the holidays.
This is one club I'm happy to say I don't belong to. I was just about the luckiest mother in the country when it came to family support. Both my mother (pictured with me in, ahem, 1969, above) and my mother-in-law had breastfed their children, at a time when no one did it. My father-in-law is a pediatrician who is very supportive of breastfeeding. And when I dug back a little further I realized that the line of breastfeeding in my family was never broken.
I learned that my 91-year old grandmother on my father's side had breastfed her children in the 1930's and 1940's. She told me: "It was not the thing to do at the time, but that was just my way."
My other grandmother, whom I never met, emigrated from Japan as a teenager in 1916. She breastfed all 12 of her children, while raising the family in a tiny house in Honolulu.
So, I didn't really expect to meet much opposition when it came to my decision to breastfeed. But how did they react when I pumped at work for a year, breastfed into toddlerhood, and let my son wean on his own schedule?
They never said a word. Not a peep. See what I mean by lucky?
So, let this thought comfort you if heading home for the holidays feels more like heading into a lion's den: It all starts somewhere.
If you're the first one in your family to breastfeed, you're paving the way for the next generation. The family who can't, for reasons of their own, support your decision to breastfeed now, is not the family your children will have. You'll be there for your daughter or daughter-in-law with cabbage leaves, nursing pillows, and a hug. You'll teach her a swaddle that would stump Houdini, and cheer when her baby grows a third chin.
It all starts somewhere, and it can start with you.