Baby showers, musings, and how to talk about breastfeeding

10 January 2010 at 1:18 am 3 comments

A couple weeks ago I went to a baby shower, and of course I brought along my baby. On the day of the shower, actually, I started panicking and wondered if (at sixteen months) he was actually above the acceptable age of a “baby” who can come along without comment, or whether he was in fact a “child” I needed to ask the hostess if it was all right to bring along. At the last minute I pushed those worries out of my mind because, frankly, I really wanted to go to the shower (for a lovely friend I don’t see nearly enough of) and I couldn’t imagine being away from my baby for the couple hours of the event.

So there I was at the shower with baby, noticing first of all that there was one three-month-old but no other “babies” present. In fact, one woman there had six-month-old twins (home with their father) and two had seventeen-month-olds (also home with family). I tried not to react with too much shock when these women told me they had babies who were not with them. I mean, I leave my baby for work (not everyday, but still regularly), yet on some level every day I work is agony for me; I can’t bear to leave him on a weekend afternoon too. He also nurses whenever he wants—two or three times during the shower, for instance—in addition to eating all sorts of table food (part of a cherry tomato, most of a strawberry, two small cornichon pickles, and some crusty french bread from the eclectic buffet).

At some point the subject of breastfeeding came up (after all, I was doing it), and I had two very interesting conversations with different women there.

The first woman, as she told it, “didn’t have enough milk” with her older baby and had to switch to formula within a couple weeks, so she “didn’t even try” to nurse her younger baby (the three-month-old at the shower). There’s not a lot for me to say at times like that, but of course I was thinking about how often women worry needlessly about low milk supply, and about how typically women’s supply (whether low or not after a first pregnancy) actually increases after subsequent births.

The second woman (an RN, by the way, who presumably knows the benefits of breastfeeding) told me that for whatever reasons, she “didn’t even consider” nursing her two older children—they had bottles of formula in the hospital and that was that—but then she moved, switched care providers and hospitals, and was encouraged to breastfeed her youngest child (a seventeen-month-old not present). She actually described breastfeeding as a revelation, and said she was so sad that she hadn’t had that bond with her older two children or given them a chance at it. Nevertheless, her third baby “fell off the growth chart” between the six and nine month check-ups, though, and at her doctor’s urging she transitioned him to whole cow’s milk and he was completely weaned by eleven months. This woman was not ready to wean, and, most likely, neither was her baby. I immediately wondered–but didn’t ask—if her doctor was using the WHO breastfed-baby growth charts, first of all, or also if her introduction of first foods (most of which are less calorically dense than breastmilk) was in fact decreasing the baby’s intake of breastmilk, but again, I didn’t say any of this.

I just sat there nodding, glad they were talking to me at all about the subject, grateful that I’d had the support I needed to start and continue nursing, and happy that I had my baby with me that day.

–Christina

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Quick link: Atlanta Journal-Constitution on intervention-free births Midwifery Bill ACTION ALERT

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kiki  |  10 January 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I find myself in the same boat with many of my pg, birthing, parenting, feeding decisions. It’s like I hit a brick wall with most women at a certain point in the conversation, especially at your run of the mill, American baby shower. You had your baby where? Home? No drugs? Mid-what? Mid-who? How long did you breastfeed? Why not give solids at 3 months? My dr. says…

    I often feel like they are justifying their decisions and I just sit there and nod (most of the time ;0). It is awkward though sometimes, not to feel like the oddball in a room full of women who are pretty much doing the opposite of what you do. Even moreso when you adore the new mom-to-be and are truly happy for her, despite all the stuff going on around you.

    Showers are very bizzare anymore for me:0

    Reply
  • 2. christinamichaud  |  11 January 2010 at 11:20 am

    Yeah, who knew that baby showers were going to be this awkward of a thing? I didn’t expect it.

    –Christina

    Reply
  • 3. Kiki  |  11 January 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I know! People mean well and usually their questions are innocent enough, especially when a child is with you at a shower, but there comes a point where I start to cringe and think, “here we go…” :0

    Reply

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