Reid and I went to the International Breastfeeding Challenge here in Ottawa on Saturday. There were 198 babies latched on at 11:00 am in the same spot as we saw Toopy and Binoo a few weeks ago. That’s what I call a family-friendly mall. Kudos to the St Laurent Centre. Ottawa was in 4th place with the first 3 spots going to places in Quebec. Full results of the challenge are available.
Reid and I participated in the Breastfeeding Challenge in 2004 when she was only3 months old and breastfeeding her was not the sort of thing that caused people to comment publicly. Maybe I benefitted from being in a large urban centre in Canada or maybe I was just so glad that everything was working – we had a challenging few days at the beginning that I was oblivious to comments – but I never noticed anything but smiles and the odd “you go, girl” comment from older women who were glad to a woman nursing. We missed the last couple of events, I don’t always read my emails promptly enough from the La Leche League chapter that I belong to in name only (I’m just not that social). This year though, a few people seemed to look twice me and my beautiful, but noticeably 3-year-old, daughter. The woman beside me, with a 1 month old, asked Reid how old she was and when she learned that Reid was 3 and still breastfed, she smiled and said that she imagined Reid would be the oldest one there. I smiled my, “it works for our family smile”, the one I use when people seem to think about commenting on my parenting choices. The woman asked a couple more questions and I realized that she was trying to figure out if we were “normal” and if she should be trying to emulate our breastfeeding relationship. The woman was a recent immigrant and had weaned her first at 11 months on the advice that it would be more difficult if she waited. “Here” she said, with a gesture, her doctor said to nurse at least 2 years. She asked if Reid was still waking at night, how often she nursed and that sort of thing. I had a flashback to when Reid was 1 month old. I am not sure if I could have envisioned nursing that often for 3 full years. I reassured her that Reid nurses much less often, eats “real” food and drinks cows milk as well as breast milk. I hope that she decided that we were a normal nursing couple, though I know statistically we are not. The World Health Organization, Canadian Paediatric Society, and the American Association of Paediatrics all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. In Canada, 85% of mothers start out nursing their babies but only 17% do so exclusively for 6 months. Remember most women are entitled to a full year of maternity leave. The WHO explicitly recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years. The CPS is less forceful in its recommendation but recommends “for 2 years and beyond” while the AAP mentions “one year or longer”.
The lactivist in me gets teary-eyed at the thought of the babies and children who aren’t breastfed and so I’ll stay on my soapbox long enough to refer you to the Infant Nutrition and Disaster pamphlet that the AAP produced that notes that breastmilk is protective against infectious diseases, is the right temperature and helps to prevent hypothermia and the hormone released during breastfeeding relieves maternal stress and anxiety.
Finally, I want to mention that the Musings of a Crunchy, Domestic Goddess have led me to the League of Maternal Justice and their virtual breast fest that will be taking place October 10th at 10am. Sounds like a good excuse for me to write a letter to Reid about how much breastfeeding her has meant to me.
Are there any nursing memories that you would like to share?