Why is it important for you to breastfeed your child? What does breastfeeding mean to you?
My son is a maniac about breastfeeding. When we were sent home from the hospital after I gave birth to him, our nurse said, “For the 20 years I have worked here, I have never seen a baby who wants to eat that greedily!” We don’t have any schedules or time limits. My son gets his nourishing time whenever he wants and wherever he wants, because I think it’s such a short amount of time for a baby to be breastfeed – a couple years of person’s life – and he’ll be on his own.
Izek breastfeeds not only to get food, or get a drink if he’s thirsty, but also to get comfort when he is in pain or afraid of something. He knows how to comfort himself when I am around. For me, the breastfeeding means an umbilical cord that is still uncut. To be honest, I don’t know for whom it’ll be harder when this cord is cut. I planned to nurse my son until he’s 2. But, he is over 2 years old now, and I’m okay with that. He has gotten his last teeth lately and I think now he’s ready to give up breastfeeding. He is more aware and interested in exploring the outside world, and I’m stepping back and observing his going away from this nourishing time naturally.
I wish I could have done that with my 7 year old Ava. Unfortunately, I stooped nursing my daughter at 17 months because I had to have radiation. It was abrupt. It was a very hard time for me physically, and especially, emotionally. I thought of breastfeeding as of my mission! And my mission was not accomplished because of my health and I thought of myself as an incomplete person, a woman who couldn’t even provide for her own child. It was a very stressful time for me back then.
Also it’s interesting how breastfeeding changed me psychologically. From the time I breastfed my first child to the time I breastfeed my second child, I became braver and less concerned with modesty. Right now nobody can say a word to me when I breastfeed my son in public! I don’t even need to open my mouth; my eyes say everything. It’s a child and it’s a natural activity and if you have a problem with that, it’s totally your problem.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
With Ava I couldn’t go out for 17 months because she didn’t take a bottle and she didn’t allow anybody, except me, to feed her. With Izek, the hard time was when he was teething. His first 2-4 teeth were a nightmare for me. He bit me a lot and even tore up my nipple once. At about one year old he started to pinch me very hard and it really hurt. I am sorry to admit it, but to prevent bruises I started to pinch my one-year old right back! Also, I survived 8 episodes of mastitis. I have one good piece of advice to share: Do not use a pump during mastitis because it does not work properly during that particular time. Use your hands and use your hands wisely. You need to know how to pump during mastitis to get your breasts to heal as soon as possible.
What do you love about breastfeeding?
Babies don’t just nurse for nourishment; they also get comfort and closeness from it. And that can become more and more obvious as your baby becomes older and is exposed to a whole bunch of new emotions and experiences.
I think of breastfeeding as a religion – religion came to the masses through philosophy. The crowd perceives religion more easily than philosophy because in philosophy you need to think and analyze and its hurts most of time. It is the same with the breastfeeding. I try to not judge anyone in their decisions because for some, breastfeeding can be a religion itself, but for some the religion can insist on the breastfeeding.
Who has offered you support?
My kids! My kids wanted it so much so I couldn’t resist!
Any advice for moms who want to breastfeed?
With my first child I tried to pay attention to somebody’s advice to feed her within a schedule and Ava lost weight constantly. Lucky for me, I fired everyone. All my knowledge about motherhood and breastfeeding came from my own experience. Now, I can write a book about it! I didn’t plan to breastfeed with my first one, but I tried it and I loved it. You will never know what you get if you do not try! The only one good bit of advice I got back then, was from a nurse in the hospital, who showed me how to properly feed the baby. Basically I learned how much of my breast should be in the mouth of my baby. That’s it! That’s the secret of breastfeeding!
My personal advice in breastfeeding is that a woman should listen only to herself. Breastfeeding is only between the mother and her child. If a woman decides not to breastfeed her baby it is right for her. It’s only her decision.
Why do you think nature designed breastfeeding?
It’s a specific exchange of calcium in the system. Everything in our body is tied to calcium, even our heart. It works differently depending on the amount of calcium in our bodies. But I would rephrase the question. How do babies develop the additional feature of getting used to lactose after they are done with breastfeeding? In nature every other species of mammals weans their young and then their young never drink milk again for the rest of their lives. But many humans continue to consume milk for the rest of their lives.
*All photographs published with parents’ approval.