From Melissa Gerstein of MomsAndTheCity.net I have three children. I breast-fed all of them; one I am still breast-feeding. My friends, neighbors and even my dry cleaning lady all want to know. Almost every single person I encounter will ask me, “Are you breast-feeding?” But the real question is: Is it anyone else’s business? What happened to: “How are you feeling?” Is it that breast-feeding has become such an open social discussion for everyone that it's similar to my diner guy asking me, "How do you take your coffee?" One of the first questions my brother-in-law asked me upon landing in Toronto to visit family for the holidays was, “Are you still breast-feeding?” I had not seen him in months and that was what he wanted to know! Other times, mothers I barely know start in with an extensive list of questions and then it feels like the race is on: "Are you breast-feeding? How long do you breast-feed? Do you breast-feed in public? Did you breast-feed all your babies? Do you give a bottle? Do you pump? When do you pump? Were you breast-fed?” After I catch my breath, I wonder are these questions for me or for them? Does breast-feeding validate if I'm a good mom or not? Does it say something about my postpartum appearance? Or does it state what type of person I am? For me, I felt compelled to breast-feed all three of my children. It was not only the medical evidence that steered me in this direction; it was the challenge, the challenge to push through the agony. Whoever said breast-feeding is a natural, bonding experience never breast-fed with 32Gs. I faced mastitis every time and endured pain like no tomorrow. I have learned that breast-feeding is a very personal choice and at the end of the day, mothers should not be bombarded with breast-feeding questions. There is no winner or medal given out to the breast-feeding champion. Just feed your baby, however best you can and remember it is my business what I do with my breasts, not yours. The 'business' of breast-feeding with TODAY's Natalie MoralesMoms And The City: Did you breast-feed? (Sorry. I'm breaking my own rule.) Natalie Morales: I did breast-feed both my kids. With the first (Josh) I breast-fed the length of my maternity leave (three months), then tried to pump when I went back to work, but that didn't work out so well and I switched to formula. With Luke (the baby) I breast-fed for seven weeks and was having a hard time because he had reflux. Eventually I found formula to be better for the both of us. But I did enjoy breast-feeding and highly encourage moms to at least try it first. It was great bonding and really taught me what mothering was all about (responding every two hours to their need). Moms and The City: Did you feel pressure to breast-feed? Natalie Morales: I wouldn't say I felt any outside or societal pressure to breast-feed -- any pressure was more self-imposed pressure, wanting to give my kids the very best start in life. There's ample evidence/research showing that even just those first few hours of colostrum is enough to help babies' development and immunity, so I felt I needed to at least try. I also had a very positive experience with the hospital's lactation specialist. There was never any pressure, just positive reinforcement and helpful advice, and I think that is crucial for new moms.
Moms and The City: Do you ever ask people this question? Natalie Morales: All the time. I'm curious what moms are choosing to do. My mom tells me I was the only one of three of her children she did not breast-feed and whether or not it's related, I had the most health issues early on (nothing major, but things like eczema, catching colds, etc. ). She felt guilty that back then (early '70s) many women were questioning the benefits of breast-feeding and there was something of a backlash against it (female empowerment). Anyway, it's interesting to me to hear how women view it today and their reasons for choosing whether to breast-feed or not. Moms and The City: Why do you think people feel it's their business to ask these kinds of questions? Natalie Morales: All moms I think need reassurance that they are doing the right things for their kids. Maybe it just makes us feel better if we know we are not the only ones having issues with breast-feeding. Moms and The City: Do you mind when people ask you questions that are clearly none of their business? Natalie Morales: It's a generally acceptable nosiness that I don't ever mind sharing because I know I have also asked those very questions. Furthermore, if I can help someone in some way by allowing them to feel better about their choices/decisions, then that's great. Sometimes just having someone to turn to during what is a very tough and sleep-deprived time can be the answer. Read more from Moms And The City's Melissa Gerstein, Denise Albert and Raina Gittlin on MomsAndTheCity.net. Story courtesy of Metro.Related stories: