Well, maybe I didn't choose to. Actually, I never really gave NOT breastfeeding a thought. I have always been in awe at God's design for a woman to sustain life within her womb, nurturing from within. Long before I knew whether I would or could bear a child, years before I met my husband, I looked forward to the day I would be pregnant. The same awe carried through to breastfeeding. Once again, the idea that my body could produce food for such a fragile baby blew my mind. If my body was designed to make it, then surely it was perfect. As I got older, I learned about other benefits, but I also found it to be much more practical. No bottles to boil or carry around (or forget!). No warming up, etc. I was also in a very supportive environment, so I didn't have to worry about the social opposition either (not like I was really concerned about it in the first place). But, in the end, my decision to breastfeed was very simple: regardless of social perceptions, breastfeeding is the way "the Good Lord meant it to be" -- period.
With all three of my children, breastfeeding has come very natural to me. It hasn't been problem free (I have to avoid chocolate among other things), yet I know better to think this is the same experience for everyone. In fact, the third time around has shown me how much I need (and want) to learn about breastfeeding. I realize that most moms who stop breastfeeding wish they had the same ease as I had. But I know many moms who have faced much greater challenges, and have prevailed in breastfeeding their child. Some of these had support, others didn't.
I am writing this to encourage those who want to breastfeed (or continue to breastfeed) to seek support. I am very thankful for the resources that have been made available to me, knowing that they weren't as easily available just a generation ago. There are thousands of people who will bend over backwards to help you do this. You are not alone. If there is one thing I have learned after having three kids (well, I actually learned after having two), is that it is OK to ask for help. I don't need to have all the answers. There are lactation consultants (IBCLC, among others), peer counselors, and simply the average mom (well, the consultants are mostly average moms who have dedicated their lives to this topic) -- all who have been there or are willing to walk through it with you. And, if paying a fee to see a consultant seems steep, then think how quickly you will be spending that amount on formula. There are also several support groups, La Leche League being the most known. There are blogs, there are email groups, forums, you name it.
So what is this post really about? It is about promoting breastfeeding, but I know I couldn't just end my post at the first paragraph because people could say, "Well, I'm glad it worked for you..." It is not my place (or anyone else's) to make that decision for you. However, there are very few reasons why someone cannot breastfeed, but there are many reasons why someone will not breastfeed. So for those who can, I hope this is an encouragement to you.
Feel free to post your thoughts.