Monday, April 14, 2008

Frugality and Breastfeeding

When people talk about how expensive it is to have a baby I often wonder if part of that "expense" that they are talking about is Artificial Baby Milk, also known as formula. When I had my first child almost 7 years ago I was determined to breastfeed her for many reasons; the 2 main reasons were that breastmilk is better for the baby than formula and it's cheaper. My frugality played a large role in my determination to continue breastfeeding even when we had latch problems and my baby was slow to gain. After 3 children we have determined that my babies simply gain weight slowly, though...that's apparently normal for them. It's a slow gain but it is steady and that's all that matters. To look at them now (almost ages 7, 5, and 3) you would never be able to tell that they were on the small side for a long time.

In addition to breastmilk being free it's also convenient. You never have to fix bottles before leaving the house or make sure you've measured out the powder and brought enough water with you. If you get stuck in traffic or an airport or a natural disaster you don't have to worry about not being able to feed your baby. Those images on television after Hurricane Katrina of mothers and their starving babies still break my heart -- if they had been breastfeeding then those babies wouldn't have been so hungry.

What's sad is that so many people are opposed to breastfeeding. Why? It's the way that God intended babies to be fed. And if you don't have a belief in God, then it's the way that "mother nature" intended babies to be fed. Why do you think the human race has continued as long as it has? Breastfeeding. No dairy cows required to feed your baby. You could easily be a nomadic tribe and still feed the babies.

What's also sad is that so many people are opposed to breastfeeding in public. Here in Texas we are lucky that there is a state law backing up our right to nurse our children in any location in which we are welcome ourselves. And the way I understand the law, breastfeeding is not a reason to declare us "unwelcome". For example, if I am sitting on a bench at the mall and am welcome to do so as a customer, then the mall can't ask me to leave BECAUSE I started breastfeeding. If I was welcome in the first place then I am still welcome.

Why do so many people think that we shouldn't breastfeed in public? Trust me -- the vast majority of us do so as discreetly as possible. My babies didn't have a problem with a light blanket over them but some babies do. So don't always expect a woman to use a blanket. Most of the time the most you will see (if you are inclined to STARE) is the top of a breast. How is that different from the girls falling out of their tops at the mall or the beach? How is that different from the pictures on the covers of the magazines at the grocery store checkout? Or on the posters in the window of Victoria's Secret? And please don't get me started on the idea of asking a mother to go to the restroom to feed her baby in private. Do you want to eat your lunch in the restroom? I didn't think so.

I got this link to a blog on Craig's List from a friend of mine. Here's the text of it. It's an awesome thing to read. I wish more people felt this way.

Date: 2006-11-21, 10:07PM PST

I happened to be on an Airplane from Shrevesport two weeks ago. Those tend to be small and crowded.

I sat next to a young lady, perhaps 20 or so. She was carrying a small child, who was quite unhappy with the pressure changes and all.

She got up several times to go to the bathroom, each time I had to rise to let her out. I knew she was comforting the child, I even asked her if she wished the aisle seat.

She blushed and said she preferred the inside seat. The flight got a little rough, the seat belt light came on along with a warning from the Captain, and he wasn't kidding, it got very rough.

She looked quite miserable, the child was crying. The ears of the very young are quite sensitive, they have not learned to compensate so nursing is very beneficial at times like that.

When the flight began to calm I mentioned to her that it was all right to comfort her child at her seat, I did not mind.

She smiled and thanked me, I suppose the fact that I am obviously a bit grandfatherly relaxed her. So she did, I simply read my book. Several around noticed but none took offense.

One funny thing, the steward came by, a young man of perhaps 30 or so, bringing soft drinks. This was after things had settled down a bit.

She was asleep, as was the child. It had a solid locklip on her breast, both were quite content. He asked me if my daughter wanted anything, I got some Orange juice for her and set it on her tray.

She woke up soon after, drank it and thanked me. I even got to hold the child for awhile, a wonderful feeling bringing back some memories of my youth and my own children. I confess to a small tear in my eyes at touching a hand nearly as small as my index finger.

Perhaps my being much older makes a difference, but breastfeeding is a wonderful thing to see. Even as a male, a tiny child pressing to my chest feels just fine.

Look down on it all you wish, those who do are fools. Women should feed their children as nature intended, they will be stronger and healthier as a result.

I see nothing wrong with it, if bashful or in a highly public place, a simple blanket will suffice. If not, that does not matter, it did not for the young lady sharing a long trip with me.

My wife nursed ours until they turned to solid foods, often in public. Not one time did anyone say anything.

It might be time for some to rub a bit of the blue off their noses, this is a very silly thing to take any offense at. Courtesy would dictate that we simply go on our way and let the young mothers be. It is just nature at work.

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