I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m not a breastfeeding Nazi. Yes, I nursed both of my children, one for six months and the next one for a year, but it wasn’t my sole purposed in life. In fact, up until just a few weeks before my first daughter was born, I was not going to do it. All I could this was “yuck.” But I’m pretty sure that was because I was never exposed to it growing up. So when I saw the debate around this new breastfeeding baby doll, it made me sad. I think little girls should understand that babies don’t just need bottles and that the human body was designed to sustain a baby until it is ready for solid food.
Evidently this baby has caused quite a stir. People are in an uproar that these little girls might put little stars on their shirts where the nipples would be and the baby will make suckling noises when put near these stars. People think this is disgusting and inappropriate. How? How could it be inappropriate to teach our children about the natural way of feeding babies. I mean, we teach them to go potty, don’t we? Aren’t bowel movements and urinating part of the natural process too?
I was on the fence about nursing my daughters. The only thought in my head was “this baby has had my body for nine months, why would I want to give it more time to suck the shape out of yet another area. Plus, that’s just weird.” That was until I did some research. It turns out breastfeeding helps the uterus contract more quickly after child birth, it burns calories and helps me get my pre-baby body back, it helps prevent breast cancer and it provides my baby with some extra immunity. Plus, I was afraid my husband was going to get all the good baby time and this would ensure I would get some too.
I had no idea how to do it. No clue. I knew it would be tough. I took a class through the hospital where I was having my baby. I got help from lactation consultants after both of the births. I came home with babies that wouldn’t latch. I fought with them for days to get into a good routine. I pumped and pumped and pumped and pumped in the car, in closets at work, in bathrooms at the airport and even in the middle of a zoo. Every time I fed my baby I covered up. Everytime I pumped, I made sure it wasn’t obvious. But why?
Apparently because this completely natural, healthy thing has become so taboo that people actually are making it hard. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I even get grief from my bottle-feeding friends. “You know you could get more sleep if you give your baby formula at night.” “Your husband could help out with feedings if you switch to formula.” “It’s so much less time consuming to use formula.” And the one I hated the most “Your baby sure has a lot of ear infections for a breast-fed baby. I guess I don’t know if I trust the study that breast-fed babies are healthier.”
Oh Shut UP!
It doesn’t matter how we feed our babies, but I think everyone should be educated about it. I’m happy to see the health department is putting ads out endorsing breastfeeding and the benefits surrounding it. I’m glad to see this doll. My oldest daughter is too young to remember me nursing her sister. Having a doll like this would teach her that bottles are just one choice, there is another. If it works for you, fantastic. If not, that’s fine too, but you should at least know about it.
Maybe it would have made things easier for me had I understood the process a little better. Maybe if I could have gone to my mom for advice I would have felt better and more confident. But she didn’t have the education in her generation either. We need to bring this back. We need to let our daughters know that this is how God made our bodies and it’s natural, not something we have to hide under a blanket or be afraid to discuss for ridicule.
This is life.
And if anyone I know gets my daughters those dolls or if we purchase them for our kids, I’ll know they support the movement too.