Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If it wasn't for the boobs, ...

I'd definitely be second in the popularity stakes.

Midget is completely, head over heels in love with Widget. Which is great, especially as Widget seems to love her right back. Of course she takes toys off her, but that is typical of being 3, and I'm amazed she hasn't done major damage with trying to move her around. She's just trying to love her, but it must be painful and often ends in tears, or at least grizzling and a rescue dash from the toilet.

However the boobs win, and Midget is just as much of an obsessive little sucker as Widget was (is!). Which really makes me wonder how on earth women who don't/can't feed cope. Obviously they find their own ways to solve problems, but it must be a very different way of raising a baby.

I didn't do it on purpose, but both my girls have been raised in a way fairly close to biologically normal. I purposely don't say natural, I think that's both a silly and nasty label, but I do try to step back when I'm frustrated and think about life on the savannah with the hunter/gatherers. Not in the sense of 'this is how it was done' - even chimps show cultural variation, so anything that could possibly be called human will have had it, which means that there is no such thing as the one true way. But more to work out why they are doing whatever is frustrating me, so if we were out there, what would our babies need?

Fairly obvious answer - to be carried, fed and protected. It doesn't have to be Mum doing these things, but in our current household I'm elected because of the boobs.

The girls are both snackers, in fact I sometimes think I encourage it, maybe I offer a feed when I want a bit of time on the computer *blush*. I think Midget's gone longer than 2 hours about 3 times in her life, and that's night and day. It doesn't worry me because Widget was the same, but when she went out and had other things to look at she didn't miss me, so it was convenience rather than starvation. They both feed/fed to sleep, and that's pretty much the only way I can get them to sleep. Again, when I wasn't available Widget would sleep happily for grandparents, so I know Midget would be fine if I wasn't around. Midget is in the bed and currently feeding a lot at night, I don't know how much because I'm asleep, but I'm getting frustrated at not being able to roll over so it's more than it used to be. And they both comfort feed. Widget has had a bad run the last couple of days with falling over and she's asked for feeds.

So just look how many things in a day would have to be done differently if I didn't breastfeed - all feeds, obviously, a couple of naps, settling during the night, comforting from a bump or overenthusiastic sister, grizzling, being overtired, and we haven't even hit teething or tantrums yet! Basically all Midget's needs except playing and nappy changing are based around the boobs. I would be a completely different parent if I couldn't or didn't use them, and it's something I find difficult to even imagine. (not worse, different)

I think this is something that needs to be said more openly by Mums and breastfeeding advocates. One of the reasons formula marketing is so successful is that we are accepting their definitions, and that's half the battle. The ONLY way in which formula can be compared to breastfeeding is as a food, so that is what they do. Or they have somehow turned it into a medication - for reflux, to make them sleep longer, or whatever other claims are made. And by concentrating on and answering those claims we are accepting them. Even the name - breastfeeding - agrees that it's all about food.

I know it's not so simple, because making your boobs available to your baby isn't just about getting them out. You also have to accept that your baby isn't manipulating you, and maybe they do know what they need. There is a lot of pressure not to give in and spoil them. But whenever there are a lot of things contributing to a problem, that also means there are a lot of opportunities to chip away slowly, and we can all just do the bits we feel comfortable with.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Sometimes I think the only reason DD even likes me is Mummy milky! She is very much a Daddy's girl for everything else. I know the reality is that she loves me (in her "old age" of 2.5 she is finally becoming a cuddly child) but still, I wonder!

As far as formula being advertised as a fix all solution, I've seen it. There was an ad in the UK which showed an exhausted Mum, then a Dad doing a night feed with the magical formula so that Mum can rest. With a slogan something along the lines of Dad needing to do his parenting bit too. Grrrr.

Slowly but surely I feel breastfeeding will come back "into fashion". At least I hope so. I reckon in this day and age we need to focus on the environmental benefits :-)