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:  http://www.mich.gov/documents/mdch/preference_for_formula_318901_7.pdf

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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