5 Things That Scare Women About Breastfeeding, From The Director Of Breastmilk
Dana Ben-Ari is the director of the documentary, Breastmilk. It’s produced by the same duo that brought us The Business Of Being Born – Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. After the birth of her second child, Ben-Ari began to examine breastfeeding on film, talking to scores of women. The result is this wonderful documentary – an open and honest look at the lives of breastfeeding women. Ben-Ari wrote the following piece for Mommyish readers – to address some common fears women have about breastfeeding.
Over the course of making the documentary BREASTMILK, we heard from and met so many amazing women. And most with concerns about breastfeeding. Some of these fears are grounded in what I believe may be seen as society’s oppression of women and the lack of understanding of and support for the female body. And some were a result of a simple shortage of information. Regardless of the scenario, we noticed that there were some concerns that kept popping up among the women we spoke to. Here is a sampling of some of those concerns:
1. Will I produce enough milk and will the baby get enough?
Most women produce enough milk as long as they follow the recommendations to feed often and stay close to the baby. There are great sites for more specific guidelines, but what I want to stress here is that some women choose to bottle feed because they have been accustomed to a scientific culture, where measuring and weighing is preferred, and where immediate answers and results are expected. My experience is that being relaxed, flexible, and assertive when necessary usually helps milk production and supply maintenance.
2. Is it going to hurt?
For some, there is a short period of adjustment. However, there should be no pain when breastfeeding is going well. Many women need some fine-tuning to perfect the baby’s latch, and that should be done in the early postpartum days. After the initial adjustment period, most women find breastfeeding to be extremely pleasurable, both physically and emotionally.
3. Will it affect my sex life?
This was a very common concern, and one which we address head on in the film. Many women feel differently about this and have felt the effect land on both ends of the spectrum, but it depends a lot on the comfort level you have with your partner. We hope it affects your sex life in a positive way!
4. Will I be able to return to work?
This is a real challenge for most women. The latest legislation is trying to improve work flexibility, and employers of larger corporations are mandated to provide pumping rooms and breaks. However, lack of maternity leave and pumping at work remains one of the top reasons women quit breastfeeding. I encourage each woman to negotiate with her employer and to try and include all of the female employees in open dialogue concerning future rules around maternity and childcare.
5. I am afraid to nurse in public.
It is your right to feed your baby wherever you are. You can be as discreet as you like, with a nursing cover or without. You may want to first practice at mommy friendly places such as playgrounds, moms groups, etc. It may also feel more comfortable to nurse in public with another nursing mom or a supportive friend. Build your confidence. But then again, if you really are shy or uncomfortable, you don’t have to nurse in public at all.
BONUS: My extended family won’t understand the decision to nurse and my commitment to it.
Not all of us have had mothers or family members who have breastfed. You can discuss your plan in advance, and provide them with literature about the benefits, etc. It would be nice to have their support, but if all else fails, it may be better to find support from friends, La Leche, or other or mommy groups.