By Karen Jameson, R.N., M.Ed
When my husband and I became parents 23 years ago, we quickly learned that parenting is no simple matter and many choices had to be made on how we were planning to raise our baby. Disposable or cloth diapers? Stay at home or daycare? Enforce a sleep schedule or not? Breast feeding or formula feeding? We also quickly learned that no matter what decision we made someone would weigh in that we were wrong!
I’m not sure how we made it, maybe because we were on the same page when it came to all the major decisions, and we were able to present a unified front when faced with criticism, but somehow we managed to raise not one but three children!
We chose to breastfeed, and my first was an easy baby to nurse. He was always hungry and latched well. He gained weight like a champ. But I had been told in the hospital to feed on one side for 15 minutes and then switch sides and feed another 15 minutes. My baby wouldn’t do that, he would latch on and feed the entire time on one side, no switching for him.
Despite his fantastic weight gain, I felt like a failure. I remember the midwife calling me at 6 months to check in and asked if I was still breastfeeding. I told her I was but then guiltily blurted out “but I’m doing it all wrong!”
She asked me to elaborate and I told her how I was feeding. She laughed and said, “You’ve just discovered the way the rest of the world breastfeeds, only the U.S. suggests feeding both side each feeding.”
I can clearly remember my sense of relief that I wasn’t a “failure.” In addition to gaining experience as a parent, I also work at TLC as a nurse educator. I attended training to become a certified lactation counselor 14 years ago, after which I began offering lactation support to any women in Sullivan County through TLC.
Armed with my own personal experiences, I am determined to do my best to reassure and soothe new parents as they seek breastfeeding help. Perhaps a family wants to pump and feed in a bottle? Maybe they want to do a combination of breastmilk and formula, or they are clear from the start that they have no interest in breastfeeding and choose formula.
I see infant feeding as a very personal choice and even when asked the question, “What is best?” I will turn it back and say, “What is best for YOU?” I am happy to answer questions about the benefits of breastmilk, and tell families that if they want to breastfeed I will do everything I can to support them, but I will never make anyone feel like they are not a good parent because they are unwilling or able to breastfeed.
At TLC Family Resource Center we support and strengthen all families, children, and youth in Sullivan and Lower Grafton counties with a wide range of free programs, support groups, education, and events.
Media Contact: Maggie Monroe-Cassel
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