Earlier this week we introduced World Breastfeeding Week by celebrating breastfeeding and acknowledging #fedisbest.
Continuing on with Breastfeeding Week, I’ve compiled a list of ten things you DON’T have to do if you’re breastfeeding. In our information-driven world we have unprecedented access to instructions. So many How-Tos, so many philosophies, so much advice. I thought it would be nice to offer a reminder that you are the parent and you get to make your own choices about how you breastfeed.
Ten Things You Don’t Have To Do If You’re Breastfeeding
Follow A Specific Parenting Philosophy
The 3 Bs, the 5 Ss, Attachment Parenting, Baby-Led Parenting, Baby Bird Parenting, Beyonce Style Parenting…your parenting style does not need a label. You don’t have to follow any specific set of principles just because you’re breastfeeding.
Cover Up or Hide
You do not have to cover yourself up to breastfeed. If your baby needs to eat, she should be able to eat. Many mothers know too well the panicked demands of a baby who is simply not willing to wait for her to fumble with a cover or to find somewhere else to go (don’t they know their cries only make us more flustered?!). In order to #normalizebreastfeeding we have to see it in public so if you want to, go ahead! Ontario’s Human Rights Code also specifically protects your right to breastfeed anywhere, any time. No one can make you cover up or move elsewhere just because you are breastfeeding.
It’s great that women have been more encouraged to breastfeed in public but it’s all about options. Not all mothers want to be exposed and that’s fine too! If you prefer to cover up, you should. If you would rather find a quiet spot for you and your baby, you should. Nursing, pumping and baby care facilities are becoming increasingly available in public venues and workplaces.
Follow a Schedule
Babies are unpredictable but feeding them doesn’t have to be complicated. Infants in particular will go through normal phases of “cluster feeding” when they need more calories to meet their growth needs (periods of cluster feeding often coincide with growth spurts). On the other hand, there will be times when your baby needs less milk. Unless you’re specifically advised by a professional, there is no need to stress yourself out watching the clock and following a feeding schedule; just feed your baby when he’s hungry.
There are many ways to feed a baby and you will decide what works best for your family. You can decide on exclusive breastfeeding or combine breastfeeding with pumping and bottle feeding or combine breastfeeding with formula feeding. Your choice!
Breastpumps are practically considered a baby gear must these days, but you don’t have to pump. If you’re put off by the whole idea or just intimidated by these strange backpack contraptions, maybe hold off on registering for or purchasing a pump until you get a feel for whether it suits your needs.
You don’t need to answer to anyone about your parenting decisions! While you may encounter unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends, family and even strangers and you may be questioned and second-guessed, you do not need anyone else’s approval to breastfeed your baby. If another person is uncomfortable with or concerned about your breastfeeding, that is quite literally their problem to deal with – not yours.
Some people are turned off by breastfeeding. Some people just love to hate. You are not in control of how other people react to their surroundings so let that sh– go and just do you. The wonderful thing about the online breastfeeding community is that it’s overflowing with support so link in with people who have your back, feed your baby and do NOT feel ashamed.
Breastfeed For Any Certain Amount Of Time
You don’t have to breastfeed for a predefined amount of time in order for it to be valuable. Almost all health authorities recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months and the World Health Organization recommends two years or more but you get to make the call. Sometimes the best approach is one day at a time.
Go It Alone
Breastfeeding is natural but not without its challenges. You and your baby have to learn together and if you need support, reach out! Help is available. Ask your doula, your care provider, or your local Public Health Unit to connect you with local breastfeeding resources. It takes a village, as they say.