In light of the Nursing in Public Carnival I have been thinking about all the people and situations that have influenced breastfeeding for me.
I assumed I would breastfeed when I was pregnant. In fact, I didn't do any research at all, I just thought that's what you did unless you had some different circumstance (like I was adopted so not breastfed). Then, a friend of my parents (who breastfed all her kids until one) asked me 'are you breastfeeding?' I was kind of taken back. I just thought everyone breastfed. She gave me a breastfeeding book when I told her that I was planning on it. When I started reading it (mostly after my son was born) I realized how breastfeeding wasn't exactly the norm. I had no idea!
When I would first go to my in-laws after we had our son, and after my sister-in-law had her baby a month and a half later, I saw her nurse. She just did it, right out in the living room in front of all of us. And easily too! I was so jealous. I had been going back into another room because I had to take my shirt and bra off just to get a good latch (I had a lot of problems in the beginning). When she wasn't looking, I watched her. It was so easy and I knew that's what breastfeeding was supposed to look like. I really looked up to her for that.
When my son was about 2 months old I started going to a new mom's breastfeeding group at a local store. The first day, I told the lady who led the meeting that I didn't know how to nurse in public. I didn't know how to get him latched on with out just like ripping my shirt off. She showed me. My son latched on, and I nursed wonderfully, in public, for the first time ever. It helped that there were so many supportive moms there who nursed openly there too. I watched them all, trying to see how everyone did it. I learned so much there.
Then, just to get it down, when I was at my parents for the weekend, I decided just to try breastfeeding in front of everyone to practice. It was easy. After that weekend I felt free. Free to go anywhere and nurse my son.
Now, I don't think I'm as worried about it. I don't think I even think about whether or not I can nurse. I just do it. I guess I sometimes nurse in private, but only to get my son to go to sleep or to leave a room of distractions. But I do have to admit that I feel a little less sure about myself now that Luke is older than one year. I always wonder what people are thinking about me and if they approve or disapprove. I try really hard to ignore that because if I'm confident then no one will think twice. I have even come up with something to say if someone says 'you're still nursing him?' I will say 'yeah, the American Academy of Family Physicians (i think that's the one, they just came out with something last year about this) recommends nursing until 2 to prevent disease.' I haven't had to say anything yet.
I'm so happy that I've found so many mothers in my life and at blogs that are so pro-breastfeeding. It has really helped me through my journey, especially now when it's really not the norm.