Friday, June 23, 2006

Lady Madonna, baby at your breast...

So, I wanted to post something in recognition of whoever managed to get here via a google search for breastfeeding Muslim wife. Now, I can only hope that said person as a good brother looking for info on supporting his wife during their child’s early years… Not some weirdo.

It is actually so odd that I have never posted anything about bfing considering how important advocacy is to me. So, I’d like to take the time to address the most common reasons Muslim women have given me for not bfing.

I Can’t BF When I’m Out
Many Muslim women seem to be under impression that wearing hijab means they can’t nurse in public (NIP). This is just wrong. It is based on the assumption that there is no way to maintain modesty while NIP. You can nurse a baby without exposing yourself. There is no reason that you have to stick it out (as dh would say) to nurse.

The awkward moment in the whole thing is getting the baby latched on. This can be accomplished in two ways, cover or turn so no one can see you. There are some really cool shawls that work well for covering and letting you peek in on baby. Or, a simple blanket will do… I use the end of the sling personally. And the other option, well I think you can figure that one out!LOL

The other factor in easy NIP is clothing. You will want to choose something that will allow access without leaving any other body parts exposed. That means a button down top, a loose jumper with side access, you get the picture! The last thing you want is to have a crying baby in your arms and realize the only way to nurse is to basically undress.

Which leads me to the next thing. Get the little one nursing before he starts wailing. A crying baby will draw attention and make it harder to get him nursing discreetly. Learn the early cues for hunger: Smacking or licking lips, opening and closing mouth, sucking on lips, or any other thing that makes it to his mouth. And then later, rooting around, trying to position himself to nurse, tugging at clothing. The very last one being crying.

I Want My Mother/Husband/Whoever To Be Able To Help Me
This is the worst one in my mind… Why does help always involve feeding? I know it’s not as fun, but cleaning, laundry, cooking and other things are just as helpful to a new mom. Enough said.

I Don’t Make Enough Milk
In rare cases this is true.

But, in other cases this is due to misunderstanding or poor management of bfing. Before you jump to that conclusion look at the whole picture of your bfing relationship. Sometimes women mistake increased nursing when a child is going through a growth spurt to mean they don’t have enough milk. Actually, more frequent nursing is the way a baby sends the signal to your body to make more milk! Another common one is as supply and demand get into sync the breast may seem less full. This softening is a normal change, and the leaking experienced in early bfing may subside as well.

There are 1000 reasons women might think they have low milk supply. And there are a few practices that tend to lead to diminished supply. The first one is supplementing. Remember the supply and demand thing? Well, the more you supplement the less milk your body thinks it needs to make. So, supplementing is a catch 22. The other reason may be not nursing the often enough This can happen because of pacifiers introduced too early, supplementing, sleepy baby, scheduling feedings… Whatever the reasons we go back to messing up the supply and demand system. Baby not being latched on well can cause problems too.

So, before you pronounce yourself incapable of producing an adequate amount of milk, enlist the help of a bfing counselor of some sort. But, beware of bad advice. Talk to other bfing moms and get a feel for what they think of her. And remember that as long as your baby is filling an adequate number of diapers and gaining weight you are fine.

So I’ll step down off my soapbox now. But let me leave you with this thought: I know your husband likes them, but there is another dare I say nobler reason Allah gave you those things. And subhan’Allah, it is an amazing system really. There couldn’t be a better way to feed your baby.


amygdala said...

Hooray for breastfeeding!! i can't wait.

camilla said...

wow what a post! Inshallah I will like to give it a second try if my second one comes along.

mamaspeak said...

Great post! Sing it, sista :)

Amani said...

Thanks for this post. It dispels alot of myths about nursing. I hate it when women say they don't make enough milk...grr...

Am said...

Fabulous post habibti, I love it!

Anonymous said...

nice article - but do you have to keep referring to breastfeeding as bfing?.... makes it sound like something else.....