We are happy to welcome a guest blogger today. Ines Wingert was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia. She moved to Mankato in 2009 to live with her husband, who is a Mankato native. They have two children (a 5.5. year old boy and a 2.5 year old girl) and a cat who chose to live with them many years ago. Ines works for a local nonprofit and runs one herself. In theory, she has many hobbies, but in practice, there is no time for any of them. Her big passion is helping families feed their babies human milk.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Have you nursed your baby? Do you plan to? Are you still breastfeeding? Why don’t you give that baby a bottle? Well, why do you not breastfeed? When do you think you’ll wean? Does your baby do anything but nurse? Why do you feed formula? Why do you pump? Why do you not pump?
Have you found yourself answering—or avoiding—these or similar questions? As it is with parenting in general, people around us will often believe they know more about our children than we do and will share their tips and tricks opinions as they go. Don’t let them discourage you, as you are the expert of your child. Choose your battles wisely, but also do the same with the sources you’ll turn to when you need to seek out advice, especially when it comes to feeding your baby human milk. There is plenty of information out there and a lot of it is discouraging, unsupportive (of breastfeeding in general and your role as a nursing parent), and even outright incorrect and oftentimes dangerous.
One thing I like to say about breastfeeding is that it is natural. It is what comes next once we give birth to our baby, regardless of whether we want it, plan it, or know ahead of time we won’t be doing. Following the birth of the placenta, a body will produce milk and in the vast majority of cases, this is a smooth process. Does this mean breastfeeding is easy? No, not necessarily. As it is with any developmental stage, in babies or adults, it needs to be practiced and, eventually, learned.
Just like our body’s reaction to birth will be lactation, our baby’s reaction will be the desire to nurse, for food or comfort. But we both may need help, and that is fine. Just think about how we learn to crawl, walk, read or write, or learn any skills we need to make a living. Some will acquire the new skill naturally, and some will need help. And that’s okay. To start running, we all need to make one first step.
Be where you’re comfortable being. Find your tribe, your support network, people or places you can turn to when you feel down, when you’re discouraged, happy, excited, or sad. Don’t let people bring you down with their stories of instant successes, if your story doesn’t look that way at the very beginning (or any time on your breastfeeding journey). Don’t let them bring you down with their stories of failure, either, as you and your baby are leading your own trip and you’ll get where you need when you do.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding is not all or nothing either. You may experience nothing but a good latch and years of feeding your baby at the breast alone, but you may also stumble and fall before you’ve reached your happy place. You may need to supplement. You may need to express milk. You may choose to express milk for your baby, which is by no means easy, and that is okay, too. Set small goals and look forward to meeting them. One week, month, or year (or many!), it all matters and it all counts. Feeding your baby any drop of your milk is amazing.
You’ve got this. And if you look around, there’s a tribe looking forward to support you on your way.
If you want to learn more or meet other nursing moms, make plans to attend the La Leche League of Mankato / St. Peter’s annual fundraiser, Fun at the Park. This Saturday, August 4th, at Tourtelotte Park from 9:30am to 1:00pm.
All over the globe, the first week in August is all about breastfeeding. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from August 1 through 7 to encourage feeding our babies human milk and improve the health of our little ones around the world. This year’s theme is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life and many organizations have partnered to promote the role of human milk in wellbeing and survival of women and children around the world.
If you’re looking for support, information, or advice about feeding your baby human milk, seek La Leche League of Mankato/St. Peter at any point on your journey and connect with an accredited leader or other families at no cost. La Leche League is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and supports families free of charge.