Throughout the month of August we commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, a week devoted to raising awareness on breastfeeding as well as on the importance of working together to achieve that.
But I am going to ask you to see beyond what is seen. Some of us may perceive it as a week of celebration for breastfeeding mothers. It is also a week when mothers share their own breastfeeding experience as an encouragement for others to do the same.
Nevertheless, if we look a little bit deeper, the week is more than just about raising awareness; the week reminds us of the importance of knowledge and understanding.
The key question to understand my previous premise is, “why do you choose to commit to breastfeed your child?”
Some of the most common answers are: “that’s my child’s primary need,” or “as a mom I want to provide warmth and sense of security through breastfeeding,” or “I cannot think of any other way to nurture my child other than breastfeeding.”
Those reasons are the essence of your considerations to finally commit to breastfeed your child and for those around you to continuously support you. You get to reason, consider, decide, and commit because you have the knowledge and understanding about breastfeeding; a matter of knowing
alone will not result in an urge within you to take such significant commitment.
In fat, knowledge and understanding about the importance of breastfeeding is what make you quit your job in order to be able to breastfeed your child whenever your child needs it, despite the consequent financial challenges. It is also why you accept that you will not be able to sleep well for a while, because your child needs to breastfeed at night; why you already expect to be interrupted in almost everything you do from household chores, movies, groceries, meal-time, even your time in the restroom. Can you imagine the constant physical and mental struggle and the possibility to surrender to the unpleasant condition if we do not completely understand the importance of it?
Mothers often talk about “the gift” from god that comes naturally from becoming a parent – the so-called “mother’s instinct” – when it comes to making decision for our child. That magic, however, still cannot guarantee the quality of our decision, because instincts can be influenced by our current condition.
My point is when it comes to decision making for our children we can not choose either one of those above, we have to combine it all: knowledge, understanding, and mother’s instinct.
The example I have mentioned earlier about the decision process to commit to breastfeed shows you exactly the result of combination of the three aspects, which resulted in decision that meets the children needs. And they apply to every aspect of our children’s life. As a parent, our children leave us with a great responsibility to choose for them that will affect their future, from the decision to breastfeed to which complementary feeding method to adopt.
Take the case of the time we spend at work for example, we go the extra mile to gather data before presentation to impress our partners and to make sure we give the best recommendations. But have we done the same for our children? Have we invested enough time to research by reading credible sources – asking experts to find out about the World Health Organization’s complementary feeding recommendation, age-appropriate stimulations, or the best way to handle colic when our children experience it – at least as much as we invest our time to learn a project proposal at work? I know all the mothers out there have worked so hard to make sure everything is well-maintained, but we still need to challenge and ask ourselves: have we done enough?
Additionally, there are hundreds more questions which cannot be answered depending on mother’s instinct only, we need the knowledge and understanding. The simplest way to get both is simple: by reading.
I know you have enough on your plate, and if you have spare time you’d rather relax, because mental well-being is important for mothers. And reading may not be on your top three most favorite activities. But being a mother makes reading much more necessary than ever, it’s our main way to find the essence for considerations in decision making process. Furthermore, it’s the key of a strong foundation of our children’s future.
The combination of knowledge, understanding, and mother’s instinct are the main capital for us to be able to reason, consider, decide, and commit during and after the decision making process. Remember, all the decisions count; everything we decide today will determine our children’s future.
The commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week throughout August has ended, but the sprit continues. So, let’s set up a strong foundation for our children, my fellow mothers. We can do this!
Geafaany Presentha Nasution is a former communication specialist for the private and public sectors and is now a full time mother.