Whole Parenting Family

Breastfeeding in All Its Glory


Photo by Emily Rumsey

It’s World Breastfeeding Awareness Week. As a breastfeeding mother, you certainly need, no NEED, to hear my contribution on the topic. Right? Maybe. But maybe not.

Articles of mine on breastfeeding {The Whole List}:

Three Beginner Breastfeeding Tips

Breastfeeding Right After Delivery

Breastfeeding: Duration of Nursing Sessions

Breastfeeding & the Art of Latching

Breastfeeding & Nipple Pain

What Are the Good Nursing Positions

Nursing Past Age One

When to Stop Night Nursing


Here’s the maybe:

Breastfeeding was a no-brainer for me. I knew it was best for baby, best for me, and I made my life work around it. Working, errands, pumping, late nights, no trips without baby, etc. It was easy, in part, SuperBoy nursed happily til 14 months, no supplementing. SweetPea is almost 16 months and still nurses, no supplementing. She had a tougher time latching, but made it through those first few weeks and then it’s all been cruise control. For her part, she never took a pacifier, isn’t a huge bottle fan, and would only only be comforted by me. By these, rather. Challenging, annoying, wonderful, all these things for those nights I wanted to go to bed and stay in bed. Forever. But both children flourished, were exceptionally healthy, and very confident. I’m a fan of breastfeeding (and attachment parenting in general {Attachment Parenting is About Sacrifice}).

As an aside, people always said that extended nursing {Why Nurse Longer?} is special because it’s the only time, for some little personalities, you get quiet, connected time. With SuperBoy, he was a snuggler, cuddler, reader, lay-on-you-er, so I didn’t quite get the hype. Sweets, oh, she’s all locomotion and go. Her foot was born on the gas pedal. Nursing is truly one of the rare moments of sitting still on her part, unless you could the free-hand-grabbing-my-collar-bone and the legs kick kick kicking. My verdict: extended nursing is awesome for this precious second before her naps & bedtime, where she actually is just with me. I really love it and will be sad when it’s time for both of us to slow down & stop.

Here’s the maybe not:

I think lactavists miss out that there are whole swaths of women in the middle of this road who are not neglectful or careless mothers just because they don’t breastfeed (or exclusively breastfeed). Women who had a preemie and couldn’t ever get their production kicked off. Women who had to work in an environment where they couldn’t pump every few hours for 15-30 minutes. Women whose children grew in their hearts and came to them through adoption. Women with health conditions requiring treatment that impeded their milk production. Women who had no support and were overwhelmed by the nipple pain, breast pain, screaming baby pain, etc. Women who breastfeed for the first few months instead the whole recommended 12 for any of the above reasons. And they don’t need judgment. They don’t need breast is best lectures. They might just need a smile, look of love when we see them mix the formula & offer their babe a bottle, and acceptance of their choices.

Breast is best. We all know that. And I’m a huge proponent of breastfeeding, howsoever much or little you can. But in this week of Breastfeeding Awareness, let’s not hate on our sisters who used the bottle alongside or instead of breast. And let’s remember to walk a mile in another’s shoes before issuing judgment. And you know me and judgment {Judging judging judging}!



  1. Tasslyn on August 6, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Lovely thoughts!!!! I completely agree. Pretty much my philosophy on parenting general – until you’ve been there, you can’t really tell why parents make the choices they do. Hating on the folks when it is already so hard (and joyful) just isn’t helpful.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Truly. Nothing is more humbling than having more than one child for me, because they are so different and now I get it–so much more get it!!

  2. Jeanette on August 6, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Thanks Nell.

    As someone who was beaten over the head with “Breast is Best,” while hoping to become a mother/being pregnant, I began to feel like anything else would be nothing short of… child abuse, almost. Despite doing absolutely everything “right,” I still had an emergency C-section and struggled for months with no latch, nipple vasopasm, mastitis, etc. I was unable to make it out of the house to make a cranio-sacral therapy appointment because I was too busy crying over my hands-free pumping bra while simultaneously feeding my newborn. I struggled a lot (and still sometimes cry) about making the choice to wean from the pump, and switch to formula. For me, it was an act of love. I was able to give my girl the mother she deserved. I am very hopeful that the next baby latches, but I learned a very important lesson in flexibility when I became a mother.

    Love finds a way.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      SO BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing!!

  3. Jacqui on August 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this. As a momma who cried for weeks over not being able to nourish my baby with my body alone, it has been hard to see all of the breast is best posts. I obviously agree, or I wouldn’t have spent two months pumping like a mad woman, buying special bottles, spending a small fortune on supplements and lactation consultants, eating more oatmeal than you can imagine, etc. Sometimes, some things just don’t work out like you expect them too.

    I drew from the courage I had that helped me heal and forgive my body after I miscarried last year, and I embraced the kind words of support and compassion of the strong women in my life. I made the conscious decision to give my son the gift of a happy momma.

    While I’m sometimes tempted to look at my body and hate it for not functioning like I had hoped it would or feel embarrassed for pulling out a bottle of formula, I know that in the end I am still feeding him with love.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      You are a great mother. I’m so glad you are in a good place now, mama!!!

  4. Tiffany (The Boob Geek) on August 7, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I really disagree about this assessment of lactivists, and it honestly makes me sad to read it. If you take a look at some of the staunches supporters of breastfeeding around (Best for Babes Foundation, Kellymom.com, La Leche League, Breastfeeding USA, to name a few), you’ll find a whole lot of women who keenly understand that not every mom is given the same chances or has the same priorities.

    Yes, there are some women (and probably men) who don’t get it, and don’t see that there are as many different experiences as there are mothers. But the majority of us are spending a lot of time and energy trying to help as many moms reach their own personal breastfeeding goals as possible. And, you know what? We try to make it so that the preemie mom gets enough support so that she can breastfeed (many NICUs do NOT have practices supportive of breastfeeding). We help strategize ways to make pumping work for moms who are in difficult situations, and even ways to make combo-feeding work so that a mom and baby can breastfeed when they’re together. We look at mouths for tongue-ties (which cause poor latches, cracked nipples, low supply, etc.) when pediatricians don’t, and help moms actually fix their breastfeeding problems instead of “fixing” them with formula. Although, if a mom wants to transition away from the breast, we tell her ways to do that will allow her to avoid negative consequences like mastitis.

    Maybe you’re referring to a special subset of lactivists, but it really hurts the cause of breastfeeding to throw so many advocates in with them, just by using that term that so many of us use to describe ourselves.

    • Natural Mama Nell on September 6, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Hi Tiffany,

      I am sorry you are saddened by my post. I’m so glad for all the work you’re doing to help strategize and support moms to be able to breastfeed or combo feed through difficult times. My intention certainly was not to point a figure at the lactation community overall, but to speak for myself, and to my own experience, as an enthusiastic breastfeeder and supporter to friends who are working toward their nursing goals who can also be judgmental of women who are not nursing.

      Thanks for visiting.