Cracked nipples. Engorged breasts. Improper latches. Mastitis. Bites. Nursing on demand every two hours. Loss of independence. And now, judgmental stares and nasty comments. For most mothers, disapproval, from strangers is the least of our worries. We've given birth. We're enduring a level of sleep deprivation most would consider a form of torture. We're tough. We can handle it. But, why should we?
As much as I would love to spend a night in a yurt and eat off my own organic farm (preferably in a tropical location), I'm hardly an eco-hero, most of us aren't, even if we are making better choices and dedicating our time, work and efforts to caring and doing. BUT, there is a big difference between not being perfect, and being downright untruthful.
Nursing a baby in public is hard enough. But nursing a toddler is a whole other ball game. The disapproving stares. The negative comments. You've heard it all, right? You probably don't know many other mothers who breastfeed their babies beyond 6 months. Your friends and family may question you. And tell you it's strange to continue to nurse your toddler. But your little man loves nursing. He's vibrantly healthy. Emotionally secure. And you cherish it. It feels normal. Natural. So what should you do?
The last time I breastfed my first child, I bawled. Unbeknownst to my 13-month-old, I was about to disappear for several days, a last-resort measure to terminate a relationship that was marked by inadequate milk supply, sleepless nights, blocked ducts and metabolic chaos. She was frustrated, I was frustrated, I was losing more weight than was healthy and I had a job interview in a week. It was taking a huge toll on everyone. Heaving with sadness and guilt, I finally agreed to go cold-turkey.
By exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding, we make it all too easy to cross the line from making a personal decision to breastfeed to the fervent belief that all mothers should breastfeed. If breastfeeding really will protect a baby from everything from diabetes to cancer, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that feeding a baby formula represents some kind of parental failure.
South Sudan has been ranked the most fragile country on earth for the past two years. On a recent trip to remote Warrap State, I witnessed targeted Canadian investments improving the health of moms and babies. There are long-term, sustainable efforts to strengthen the health system taking root in South Sudan that go above and beyond much-needed emergency relief -- and they are paving the way for a better tomorrow.
To all new and expecting mothers Tara encourages you to: "Get connected. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to carry a mother so don't be afraid to reach out to someone walking the same journey. We can walk together because our children need us to be the best mothers that we can possibly be."
According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal way of feeding babies for the first six months of their lives. Breast milk is packed with nutrients that a newborn needs to grow strong and healthy, and fight off illness and infection. In regions where water sources are often contaminated and medical clinics are few and far between, nothing beats breastfeeding. Yet women giving birth in one of the world's poorest regions must often overcome immense obstacles to breastfeed.
Have you heard this before? Are you a dedicated breast-feeder to a toddler or older child? If so, you are not alone. I see many women in my office each week who continue to breastfeed their toddlers, sometimes while also nursing younger babies. Women who breastfeed "older" children are often stigmatized and looked at as strange.