Why I Teach My Son about Breastfeeding

Until about five years ago, I didn’t realize how amazing my mom is.  She exclusively breastfed my older sister and me, which I really didn’t think much of until I became a mom myself.  Being the younger sibling, I never saw anyone being breastfed regularly growing up.  Then when I was old enough to contemplate parenting, I was an ambitious college student and starting my career.  Breastfeeding was completely outside of my world.

Now I’m a mom and I totally get it.  Now I realize the sacrifice, dedication, time and energy she spent because I, myself, am a breastfeeding mom.  I took the time five years ago when my first son was born to thank her and I thanked her again when my second son was born seven months ago because she is amazing.  Now I realize.

Then it dawned on me: will my sons ever thank me for breastfeeding them?  I’m certainly not doing it for the gratitude and I know much of motherhood is a thankless job.  But my five-year-old is quite expressive about his feelings and often thanks me for things I do for him.  However for a son, breastfeeding just doesn’t seem like one of those things.

Why I Teach My Son about BreastfeedingMy sons may have wives who breastfeed their children one day, but they will never personally experience breastfeeding – with all of its joyous sessions of bonding, priceless cuddling, and feeling they are truly doing the best for their baby…or the hours of exhaustion, struggles of being tethered to another tiny being, and worrying if they are doing any of it right.  Without those moments, can my sons really appreciate my gift and would they ever think to say, “thank you, mom”?  I don’t think so and I’m OK with that.

There is something bigger I want than a thank you.

As a preschooler, my son was taught not to have any qualms about his body.  For better or for worse, he is willing to get naked in front of anyone and our bathrooms have an open door policy, as they did at school.  We also use most of the anatomical terms for our body parts.  With a baby at home, I’m often half dressed with exposed breasts before, during or after a feeding.  At first my son was very intrigued as I fed his baby brother and would watch intently the entire time. Now that the newness has worn off, half of the time I don’t think he even realizes it happening, as evidenced by the fact that he often wants me to do impossible things to help him while I’m breastfeeding.  Other times he’ll ask me, “are you on the second breast yet?” which is his way of saying, “are you almost done so I can get some attention?”

Lesson one accomplished!  Breastfeeding is normal, natural, necessary and happens often! Seeing a breast in the context of breastfeeding is the same as watching someone eat a sandwich, and one day he may even see the beauty in it.  But it is more than the physical act of breastfeeding that he needs to understand.

We try to be a teaching family and explain things to my son that are beyond his years and perhaps above his five-year-old capacity.  Nonetheless, we give him lots of information to see what sticks.  He astounds us with his knowledge all the time.  So why not teach him about breastfeeding too?

My son now knows that breast milk makes babies strong, helps them not get sick and it allows their brains to think hard so they can develop properly.  He also knows that breastfeeding continues to give children these incredible powers throughout their lifetime.  Discussing breastfeeding forays into a conversation about making good choices for our bodies and how we have the ability to support ourselves in staying healthy.  I have also been able to teach him about helping others who want to make good choices because I donate milk to a mother in our neighborhood who hasn’t been able to produce enough breast milk for her infant daughter.

None of these breastfeeding lessons are intended to elicit a thank you.  As every mother knows, there aren’t enough thank yous in the world to cover what we do nor do we need thank yous in order to lovingly provide for our kids. I teach my son about breastfeeding because it’s just another way I love my children like my mother loved me. I want him to know that mommy cares about his health, his strength, his brain, I care about making healthy choices for our family and I care about helping others.  It’s a value that was passed down to me and it is one I hope he continues to cherish and uphold.  He doesn’t have to be a daughter to accomplish that.

I will continue to thank my mom for the rest of my life for giving me the gift of breast milk and being a role model and advocate for my own breastfeeding journey.  My son will thank me for many things too.  Breastfeeding may not be one of them, but if he embraces the lessons of this act of love, that’s thanks enough for me.

Written by Erin, Loving Moments by Leading Lady brand ambassador

Breast Milk is the Answer! A Breastfeeding Q&A with Semone

Creating change in the world starts with one mom vowing to make a difference. And you don’t have to be a world leader to do it. You can make decisions for your family that will affect your child’s entire life, like breastfeeding. From there, you are creating change in your community by normalizing and rejuvenating a passion for the natural loving nourishing act of breastfeeding. If enough moms take this step, the world will be a better place for the future of our children.

Semone, one of the gorgeous models from Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), reminds us how breast milk is the answer:

Breast Milk is the Answer!  A Breastfeeding Q&A with Semone

1) Why are you passionate about the breastfeeding cause?

I want every mother to know that she was created to nourish her baby.  All of us mothers have just what our children need.  It is important that we start our children off right and give them the best we have to offer.  Everyone is so concerned about a child being spoiled.  Well I say let us spoil them with breastfeeding love.  I also believe that breastfeeding can help diminish some of these diseases we come across.  Breast milk is the answer!

2) What is your most cherished breastfeeding moment?

I cherish looking into my child’s eyes and s/he looking into mine.  When my wonderfully, created baby boy and girl look up at me, we are in another world.  That bond is something so special.

3) What do you hope for the future of breastfeeding among African American communities?

I hope and pray that more moms everywhere will realize that it does not matter status, class, background, etc., but you as a mother can breastfeed.  It is better for your baby and you can do it.  Wear your baby if you have to, like you rock your attire.  Be just as confident in breastfeeding as you are in sporting that afro – no one thought that would make a comeback.  Breastfeeding is not a fad, but a way of living better.

100 Benefits of Breastfeeding Part 1

breastfeeding 2__1458691025_162.206.228.38We often tout the incredible benefits of breastfeeding on our blog and on social media.  Individually they are certainly fantastic, but taking a look at all of the benefits of breastfeeding together makes you realize how undeniably, extraordinarily, miraculous breastfeeding and breast milk can be.  From the physical, emotional and cognitive benefits, to the preventative and economical benefits, babies, mothers, families and communities all reap the advantages of this amazing, natural act.

Saturday, April 9 marks the 100th day of 2016.  To celebrate 100 days of this glorious year, we’re sharing 100 benefits of breastfeeding throughout the week.  Each day we’ll have a new installment of the phenomenal benefits of breastfeeding.  We hope you enjoy this series.  Share your feedback with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

1 – Breast milk is the perfect nutrition for your baby. With hundreds of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, breast milk gives your baby the best start in life.

2 – Breast milk is a whole food and can completely sustain your baby’s nutritional needs in early infancy.

3 – Breast milk is easily digestible for your baby because it was made specifically for him.

4 – Breastfeeding is one of the most instinctual womanly acts on the planet.  It has been happening since the dawn of mammals.

5 – The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first six months of your baby’s life and continuing for one year or more even after introducing solids.

6 – Breastfeeding is the best way to build your baby’s immature immune system.  It contains a variety of supercharged antibodies to protect your baby from pathogens that may enter his system.

7 – The earliest type of breast milk known as colostrum is ideal for newborns because it is highly concentrated with fat, protein and calories required during the first few days of life.

8 – Colostrum also helps newborns pass meconium, which is the dark sticky poop that travels through a baby’s intestines.

9 – Breast milk changes to meet the specific nutritional needs of your baby as he grows and develops.

10 – Breast milk tastes great!

11 – The flavor of your breast milk changes based on your diet so your baby shouldn’t get bored with the same old meal day-in and day-out.

12 – Breastfeeding is an early phase of palate training because you can expose your baby to a variety of flavors in your diet through your breast milk.  This encourages a more diverse and healthy diet as your child ages.

13 – Breast milk is readily available when you are with your baby.

14 – Breastfeeding is convenient as you don’t have the hassle of preparing bottles or bringing extra supplies when you’re on-the-go.

15 – Breast milk is always the perfect temperature.  Picky babies won’t need it warmed and you never have to worry about overheating it.

16 – Breastfeeding is cheaper because it is free.  You’ll save lots of money by breastfeeding.

17 – Breastfeeding is better for the world economy because it doesn’t require subsidies and reduces the overall cost of healthcare due to less sickness from mothers and babies.

18 – Breastfeeding sustains life across the globe.  It is encouraged by the World Health Organization and UNICEF as the healthiest nutritional choice for babies.

19 – Fresh breast milk is extremely pure.  You don’t have to worry about bacteria or contamination.  In fact, breast milk is an antimicrobial agent in and of itself.

20 – Breastfeeding is a gift you can give your baby that will last a lifetime.