Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Taking my own advice: Calling scientists who nursed past a year, please share!

So, all of a sudden it seems like there are a million babies showing up in 2011 and I find myself encouraging the expectant parents to have their baby be breast-fed. I generally mention that they should not feel like they should try to figure it out on their own, resources like La Leche League (a support group for nursing mothers) or working mothers’ nursing support groups arranged through local hospitals are available. There are studies showing that this kind of support is critical to maintaining a nursing relationship with a child.

So it is time for me to take my own advice. My daughter just passed her first birthday. I realized recently that I don’t know what this “looks like.” Personally, I nurse 4-5 times per day (a couple of these are overnight) and I still pump twice per day on a work day. I love the connection with my daughter, but hey, life is demanding and I wonder about making it to the WHO-recommended two year mark. Being a scientist, I loved the data I have read on the biological (and other!) benefits of nursing to two years, but being a scientist and mother, I have a full work load and a now very active little toddler. Right now (at one year ) I feel like nursing to two years may be like running a marathon. However, I know that the second year is very different from the first, so it isn’t like I am just repeating everything I already went through.

So, now I am asking for feedback from working scientist mothers who nursed well past a year. Although I'm obviously reaching out to astrophysicists, feel free to forward this request to your scientist buddies in other fields! I want to know “what does this look like?” (what did it look like for you?) How did you make it work? How did you handle the challenges of travel? How did you handle the peer pressure to stop? What resources helped you? (I have heard about the book “Mother Your Nursing Toddler”, for instance, is that helpful or dated in 2011?). How did you feel about continuing the relationship that long?

You can post a fairly anonymous reply to this blog OR you can email me directly Ann.Hornschemeier AT nasa.gov (preferably before end of May 2011). Please let me know if I should keep your comments anonymous as I hope to compile them for my blog in June.