When was the last time someone approached you to congratulate you for breasfteeding your baby? It’s never happened to me. But I do have a friend who makes a point of approaching every breastfeeding mother she sees to give them a ‘right-on’ cheer. She stops short of high-fiving, but if they offered I think she’d go for it!
I feel torn about congratulating a breastfeeding mother. Let’s get this straight: breastfeeding is the biological norm. Mammalian babies drink their mothers’ milk. Why should we congratulate or encourage someone who is just doing something normal? No one congratulates each other for walking or breathing. That would be considered odd.
But would it be odd if the person who was walking or breathing had never done it before or had struggled with it somehow? What if they had been in a car crash and with a lot of persistence they had learned to walk again? It would be a miracle. It would be worthy of congratulations.
In a different scenario, what if a person had said how much they wanted to go for a walk, but everyone around them wanted to stay in and watch TV. All of the TV watchers would try to convince the intended-walker of how much better and easier it would be to just stay in. They could watch a programme about walking– it’s nearly the same, right? And if that person resisted and decided to go walking anyway because they knew it wasn’t the same and because they would feel better for doing it, well, that would be worthy of congratulations.
In a world where breastfeeding is the biological norm, but isn’t perhaps considered normal, let’s encourage each other and congratulate one another for doing it. Of course the longer a baby breastfeeds, the more benefits the nursing dyad gains. However, it’s worth remembering that every drop of breastmilk counts. The mother who gave her baby some colostrum straight after birth, the mother who fed her baby for five days or six weeks… they deserve congratulations too. Every drop of breastmilk is a drop of gold to a baby.
And although I have been living in Britain for 16 years, and a fair amount of the stereotypical British reserve has rubbed off on me (they simply don’t, by any means, high-five and they certainly don’t say WOO HOO!), I hereby offer you a high-five and a WOO HOO!!
About Lisa Hassan Scott
Lisa Hassan Scott is a stay at home mother of three little ones, age 2, 6 and 9. An American living in Great Britain for over 15 years, Lisa is a Yoga teacher certified by the British Wheel of Yoga, and a La Leche League Leader. She blogs about mothering, breastfeeding, Yoga and the mind at http://www.lisahassanscott.co.uk. Follow her on Twitter: @lisahassanscott