GUEST POST: By Lara Audelo, Mom, Founder, MamaPear Designs & Certified Lacation Education Counselor (CLEC)
I support all breastfeeding moms, and I work to help them achieve their own personal breastfeeding goals, whatever they may be. I breastfed my oldest son until he was 27 months old, and my youngest son is 18 months and still going strong. My older sister breastfed her girls until they were over four years old, so clearly I am supportive of ALL breastfeeding relationships, no matter how long they last. If the mother and her child are content, that is what matters.
Today I happened to be talking to a close friend who has a baby, less than a year old, and they are enjoying a happy breastfeeding relationship. Like every breastfeeding mom, she worked hard in the beginning stages and early weeks when her baby was a newborn, and now they have breastfeeding down to a science! She reads her baby’s cues, and offers access to the breast when he wants, whether he is hungry or wants soothing, or just snuggles. During our conversation today, she asked me for advice because her family has made comments that her baby is a “mama’s boy”. She is hurt and offended by these comments, and frankly a little confused because he is after all – a baby.
So I started thinking, why are we so judgmental about babies being babies? And it seems to be that we judge the breastfed babies a little more harshly. Enter the derogatory phrase: titty baby. A breastfed baby often turns to the mother for comfort first, they know where the milk comes from! Why wouldn’t a baby want comfort in a pair of loving arms, on a warm lap, close to mom’s face where they can get the kisses that make everything better? They aren’t being choosy or acting spoiled, they are simply following their natural cues and instincts. Why is it a bad thing if a baby wants comfort at the breast? Why are mothers told not to soothe a hurt child at the breast, but rather use distraction to ease a child’s pain? There’s a reason why a hurting baby or child wants to be at the breast, because breastfeeding is analgesic, it’s scientifically proven. So the ‘titty baby’ knows what it needs for comfort, and it just seems silly to deny that.
In my former life I was a high school teacher, it was before I had kids, and the experience taught me many valuable lessons. One lesson has resonated with me well into motherhood, and it is applicable in this scenario. I was told one time as part of my training that when you meet with a parent and are talking about their child with them, remember that in their eyes, their child is the best thing they have ever done. As a mom I know that is true, my boys are my greatest accomplishments, and nothing I do for the rest of my life will top them! So when someone makes a comment like, “Oh what a little ‘titty baby’” or anything to that effect about your child, they are criticizing the best thing you have ever done. And it hurts. When it comes to breastfeeding, remarks like these can be dangerous and detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship.* It can rob a new mother of confidence and make her less sure of something she knows she is doing right and that is best for her baby. Beware of these remarks, and do not let them deter you from your breastfeeding goals.
So should someone make a disparaging remark about your ‘titty baby’, turn it into a compliment! With a smile say thank you, why yes he is! The truth is one day before you know it, your baby won’t turn to your breast anymore, but you will both have the memories and the bond that breastfeeding created!