Breastfeeding is a beautiful experience for both the mother and the infant. It helps keep your infant healthy and strong and builds a beautiful bond between you and your baby.
Some mothers are comfortable breastfeeding in public, while others are more conservative in their approach, opting to cover up or keep to designated nursing areas and other private settings.
Every household is different, and any approach that works best for you is the correct approach. We want a world where breastfeeding is automatically thought of as "natural" or "normal." To do this, we can start off by educating our own children on the benefits and natural beauty of breastfeeding.
"I Still Nurse My 5-Year Old"
When her children were younger, our President and Founder Dia Michels wrote an article about her breastfeeding experience: 'I Still Nurse My 5-Year-Old' (Parents Magazine, June 2005, Pages 127-130).
Dia describes nursing her three children as a "beautiful, peaceful, and powerful experience". Even with the some of the judging eyes from others, and the comments she heard from friends and strangers, Dia knew that breastfeeding was a natural choice for her and her family, and educated and informed her children as they grew older about the benefits and beauty of breastfeeding.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
"Like all nursing moms, I started immediately after each of my babies was born. But unlike the vast majority of breastfeeding moms—83 percent, to be exact—who quit before their baby’s first birthday, I kept offering my milk to my kids, and they kept taking it. It wasn’t that I started out with a plan to nurse our kids into their school years, it was just that we saw no reason to stop doing something that was so good for them and I so thoroughly enjoyed."
"I believe my breast milk has given my children vital nutrients and helped to boost their immune systems. More important, it has comforted them in a way that nothing else could. When Mira is sad, frightened, hurt, or unsettled in any way, nothing is more soothing to her than being cradled in my breast."
"The only downside has been dealing with people’s attitudes. Even my closest friends make it clear that they disapprove. "How long are you going to let Mira nurse like that?" I’m asked repeatedly, always with a tinge of disgust."
"Everyone has a reason why I should wean my daughter. I’ve been accused of nursing her for my own sexual gratification. I’ve heard that she’ll grow up to be too dependent or even mentally unstable. All I can say is that I am convinced I’m doing the best thing for my daughter—just as I’ve done for her brother and sister. Even my husband, who knew very little about nursing when he became a parent, is totally supportive, as he’s watched what nursing has done for—and what it means to—our children."
Educating Children About Breastfeeding
Educating and informing children about the benefits of nursing is especially important. With more open discussion and education, hopefully future generations will not have to endure judgement or negative comments about their decision to breastfeed.
In Huneeya Siddiqui's article, "Helping Children Feel Comfortable With Breastfeeding", she explains some simple strategies on how we can help teach our children that breast isn't only best, “Breast is Normal!”
Find Examples in Nature - Children love reading and watching animals in nature! Exposing and informing children to and about the natural world around them and how other mammals feed and care for their young is an engaging and relatable way to talk to your kids about breastfeeding. It's a fun way to demonstrate to them that breastfeeding is a natural process that most mammals do when raising their young.
Model with Dolls - Many dolls today come with bottle, but their are some that come as breastfeeding babies. Encourage your child to use a doll to mimic your actions when you are breastfeeding your infant. This includes older children in the bonding experience of breastfeeding, and helps them grow up learning that breastfeeding is a natural part of a life.
Honesty and Explanation - If you and your child experience someone breastfeeding, or if they ask you questions about your breastfeeding, explain to them what is happening between the mom and baby. Answer any questions honestly and directly, in terms and phrases they can understand.
Children's Books About Breastfeeding
One of the best ways to teach children about breastfeeding is through books and illustrations. Children love reading, or being read to, so incorporate some books about breastfeeding into your family library!
Cuddled and Carried
Cuddled and Carried introduces young children to attachment and nurturing in the natural world. This captivating book shows how mammal families raise and nurture their young, whether from snowy dens, warm lagoons, cozy nests, or a living room!
This is the perfect book to introduce young readers to the variety of ways mammal mothers breastfeed and tend to their babies. It fosters empathy and kindness in your young child by telling the story of mothers lending a paw, wing, flipper, or hand to care for their young.
Babies Nurse is one of our most popular books, and it introduces young children to breastfeeding through stunning illustrations and information about how different species (including humans!) nurse their young.
Babies Nurse is a Winner of the Parents Favorite Product Award, and gives a glimpse into the world of 13 mammal babies and their mothers.
This book inspires conversations about parenting, biology, habits, survival, and more. This is the perfect book to read to very young children as well as elementary school/new readers to delight in the beauty of breastfeeding.
What are your favorite books about breastfeeding and why? Let us know in the comments!