Baby Steps Blog

Breastfeeding Communities

I’ve just returned from a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska – my daughter and her family live there. We had a lovely time, and because my grandsons are four and seven, we spend a good bit of time in places where there are lots of families.

One thing really struck me. (Of course you are going to laugh at me – it has to do with breastfeeding!) If I didn’t know you could feed a baby at your breast, I would never know it from my time away.

Why does that matter? Well, we have a breastfeeding initiation rate around 90% here at the hospital in Brattleboro. Sometimes people will say, “Oh, you have made such a difference there.” But I know that my presence at the hospital isn’t the big factor.

It’s healthy, beautiful babies and their healthy, beautiful mommies, out in the community, that make the difference.  At least – that’s a part of what the research says!

Quick – what made you decide to breastfeed? When I was asked this question, I said, “Oh, the health benefits for the baby.” Really? “Well – the allergies thing.” Really?? “No – it was seeing Betty Keate nurse her baby – I was six years old and I still remember how beautiful she looked, and she looked like she was going to eat that baby up!”

Another mom said, “I saw a woman breastfeeding on a bus, and I wanted to do it!”

The research I am thinking about was done in California, with moms who were pregnant and on WIC. You can read about the research here:

The big surprise in this study was what a difference it made if a mom felt comfortable with formula feeding. If she said she felt very comfortable with formula feeding – that’s how she was likely to feed her baby. Now, I’ve had local moms tell me they felt persecuted when using a bottle in Brattleboro (and that’s a whole ‘nother discussion about motherhood and womanhood and persecution!) – so how comfortable would you feel with formula feeding in that case?

So enjoy your baby, practice breastfeeding in a way that makes you feel comfortable – you can come practice at New Moms Network on Wednesday mornings – and know that you are a Public Service Announcement for breastfeeding every time you show off your beautiful baby – not just when you are breastfeeding!

By the way – I’d love to know your answer to “What really made you decide to breastfeed your baby?” Look inside your heart and tell me!

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12 Responses to Breastfeeding Communities

  1. Katie Bricker June 26, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I never really thought about providing nourishment to my potential offspring until I got pregnant. I knew my mother breastfeed all three of us (my two older brothers and I), but it wasn’t a hot topic for me until I got pregnant. However, as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I knew that breastfeeding was the choice for me and my baby. My mother was a huge part of that decision and I’m so thankfully to her for encouraging me and sharing her experiences with me. I could sense the love she fostered breastfeeding us, through her stories. I wanted that for myself. Now, after exclusively breastfeeding my two children, I can’t imagine mothering any other way. I love it, I’ll miss it, and I’m proud to say it.

    • Dawn Kersula June 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      I love that you say “I can’t imagine mothering any other way” — somehow when we haven’t had this intense breastfeeding relationship yet, we don’t even realize how much it will be integrated into our mothering and our lives and hearts and souls forever!!

  2. Kim June 26, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    For me the primary reason was the health effects for the baby. But once I started breastfeeding I realized that the bond provided breastfeeding was a great side benefit. Additionally, the convenience of breastfeeding became apparent as it allowed me to not worry about bottles, heating, etc. when I was with my baby. I also agree that the supportive community really helps – I think you’re more likely to get negative looks (I don’t think I’d go so far as persecuted..) bottle feeding than breastfeeding in this area and that makes it more comfortable to breastfeed.

    • Dawn Kersula June 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Amazing how often those health benefits open our eyes first. You are so right about the negative looks….too bad we can’t somehow have more conversations without glaring/no words! (Although I’ve also heard of a mom who was pumping and feeding because of some real challenges, and someone came up to her, asked “Why didn’t you breastfeed?” and lit into a lecture!)

  3. Tammy June 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I just always knew I would breastfeed my baby . . . I thank my mom in part for this as she breastfed both me & my brother, although I have no memories of this, I know subconsciously it plays a role. I also grew up around farm animals and now provide care for all sorts of critters, and see how nurturing and dear they are when feeding their young and also the health problems that arise when mom can’t feed her young. So I guess the short answer is that it just seemed natural to me, and though it wasn’t easy at first, it still seems like the most natural thing to me.

  4. Linda Rosetti June 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    I’m an old friend of Dawns and I love reading her blogs. To answer her question, Why did I decide to breastfeed my children, well mostly because I believe in the fundamental truth that mother nature really does do this best. Birth, breastfeeding is set up to work, and it uses 1000 calories a day to nurse a baby.

    • Dawn Kersula June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      And you can’t fool Mother Nature!

  5. Star June 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Just felt like it was the best and most natural way to feed my baby!

    • Dawn Kersula June 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      Short and sweet – and what a blessing to start out with that good attitude!

  6. Melanie Zinn June 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    We were made for each other. How amazing that we get to grow and nurture healthy babies in our bodies and are given the privelege (sp?) to sustain life with that same body. It’s such a miracle and although has it’s challenges it’s well worth it!

    • Dawn Kersula June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #


  7. Dawn Kersula July 8, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    This is an amazing post about a diplomat’s wife and baby who were called “terrorists” after a “breastfeeding incident” at a country club in White Plains, NY. I don’t usually use that many quotation marks in a sentence – but this is just an amazing story, a propos to our discussion here! Poet/Mom Katharine McKinney suggests,

    Mothering is already an isolating, exhausting business and to tell a woman that for several hours a day she has to be sequestered is dehumanizing … It’s hard enough to be a mother without being told a laundry list of ways and places you can do something as simple as feeding your child without offending the sensitive masses. Especially when seeing something over and over is the best way to normalize it.

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