When I got a phone call from the Department of Health asking if I would put a photograph of a breastfeeding baby on the cover for the August issue, my first thought was, “Time Magazine eat your heart out!” Back in March Time Magazine’s front cover was a 26 year old model with her three year old, standing on a stool so he could latch on and look at the camera. For me this was no big deal, many friends had breastfed until their child was 2 or 3, I stopped when my boys were around 18 months. But, in social media there was uproar with cries of child abuse and narcissism. How did one of the most natural acts a human being can do in the world be turned so upside down? I guess the headliner; “Are you mom enough?” wasn’t the most nurturing caption?
August is National Breastfeeding Awareness month, hence the phone call. The fact that there is a need to have an awareness month at all is a telling reflection on where our society is today. Mayor Alan M. Arakawa even signed a Breastfeeding Awareness Proclamation for the County of Maui on July 27th, which you can see on page 31. He also said that The County of Maui supports mothers breastfeeding in public places, so don’t ever feel bad if you have to do this. You can’t always find a quiet spot to whip your baps out when you are on the go. I remember walking around Kmart with my baby in my Ergo carrier breastfeeding with no one any the wiser. And why should they care? That’s what boobs are for!
If you are able, the milk your body produces is scientifically proven to be the best thing for your baby – hands down hundreds of studies. You would hope after millions of years of evolution our bodies had figured out a way to sustain life. Breast milk is the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein and antibodies that is needed for a baby to develop, thrive and grow. There are so many websites that give evidence of studies that prove that breastfeeding reduces the chances of ear infections, asthma, Type 1 & 2 diabetes, childhood Leukemia, lower respiratory tract diseases, lower allergies and gastrointestinal infections and the list goes on. Breastfeeding also has many psychological benefits for your baby as the skin on skin contact and physical connection can create a solid physical and emotional bond and stimulate cognitive development.
Reality is that breastfeeding can be painful at the beginning, but your nipples toughen up quickly after a few weeks. The hormones can be both good (bring it on oxcytocin) and bad – just remember that 90% of the time it is the hormones that are flipping you out. Weight may not fall off like you had read because you are so hungry all the time, but it might after you finish breastfeeding and begin to eat less. All your vices should be put on hold (which may be a really good thing) and your once perked bosom grows huge but may deflate and point southwards by the end. However, all this pales in comparison because you know your child is having the best possible start to life and the moments you share nurturing your baby can be the most beautiful experience in the world.