During the first week of August, in our house, the fanfare begins at 4:13 am. Throughout the house, the piercing cry of a hungry infant signals it’s time for at least one of us to rise to the occasion, although it inevitably and excitedly wakes all. Never mind that the cries are actually broadcast from our Jambox, not from a live human. My whole family gets into the mix: The girls start blowing up pink balloons and drawing nipples and areolas on them. My husband works on making the breast milk popsicles (no, although in theory it is possible to get a man to lactate, I have not subjected him to any experiments). Me, I just throw my hooter hider on as a cape and run through the house sprinkling confetti made from nursing pads shouting "It's World Breastfeeding Week! Yay!" Got a good picture?
Uh, no. Right, because although on many occasions I've been known to step it up in the name of a celebration (Arbor Day comes to mind), World Breastfeeding Week is typically one of more reflection and honor than sparkles for me. The kids are actually still sleeping as I write in "celebration"...
Much of the acknowledgement and education provided during WBW focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding. The timing this week is interesting because, of late, a good number of my mommas have reached out for support during the end of their breastfeeding experiences. They have questions and feelings about the weaning process. All these moms have been breastfeeding in exclusivity or in combination with bottles for weeks, months or a year or two. When completing my initial visits with moms, I always remind them to contact me when they are having thoughts about shifting or moving on from the breastfeeding experience. I hear from a good number of them as they have a variety of reasons for wanting to reduce and stop breastfeeding and it’s almost never cut and dry for them in regards to their feelings about reaching this new stage in their development as moms and of course, in the development of their little ones. There are the logistical aspects of how to go about reducing breastfeeding to the level that is most comfortable for that individual family. In some cases, moms want to continue to breastfeed once or twice a day, in others they are ready to stop entirely, still in others, some moms are dealing with a baby who no longer seems interested. I can advise pretty straightforwardly on all those scenarios and more. The piece that is most individualized is the decision itself and the surrounding circumstances and influences driving the idea. I definitely provide information from an educational standpoint, but am also offering myself as their sounding board, counselor and girlfriend-you-tell-all-your-secrets-to, especially for these kinds of calls. I like this link from the Mayo Clinic in terms of the topline overview of things to think about.
So in honor of WBW this year, I want to say a special thanks to all the families who have invited me to be a part of their entire breastfeeding journey. They reached out in those early days for help with their tiny monkey and have now come full-circle as they move forward in their story. On second thought, I just may go cut up some of those nursing pads and toss the confetti in your honor…Yay!