Breastfeeding Experiences, Part 3: “Tu allaites encore?”

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Sweetest of Pies, view from above, at 5 months

Littlest is 7 months old now—how time flies! And breastfeeding has become such a joy. Now that he’s eating solids, what I pump at work is more than he needs, so we haven’t even bought a tin of formula for 6+ months (though we’ll have to this weekend as I’m worried I might not have enough frozen milk for his night at Mamie’s).

The benefits of breastfeeding seem to just keep piling up as I read more:

  1. It creates the “microbiome” (the assortment of good bacteria) in the gut that baby needs.
  2. It helped him learn to suck harder in order to be readier to eat solids.
  3. It introduced him to lots of different tastes, also better preparing him to eat solids.
  4. It gives him my antibodies to keep him from getting sick.
  5. Also because of my antibodies, when I get sick, it keeps him from getting what I have (or at least, he gets it in extremely mild form) and allows me to not wear a mask around him—and continue giving him all the kisses I want.
  6. It has saved us so much money.
  7. It calms him when he’s upset for other reasons, like this weekend when he had some trouble falling asleep at the wedding.
  8. It’s so freaking practical (this past weekend we nursed on the side of the road and in the church during the wedding).
  9. It gives him my melatonin in the middle of the night to help him fall back asleep, though he seems to be sleeping through the night again (when he’s at home).

And though it’s not a scientific benefit, the bond we have while nursing is super sweet. Littlest is pretty wiggly but has started looking up at me with his big blue eyes (yes, they’re still blue!) while nursing and it melts my heart.

Unfortunately, breastfeeding a baby at this age in France seems to already make us abnormal. From as early as six months I started getting the question, “T’allaites encore?” at that point without any inherent criticism. But it shocked me that anyone would bother to ask that question for such a little baby, and the questions have only increased over the past few days when we saw so many new people with Littlest at a wedding.

I can tell it’s going to be tiring responding and educating people. I snapped at a colleague today, though I then explained.

Here’s my question though: WHY? WHY would I stop now? It was so hard at the beginning, and it’s such a joy now.

So if any has any quick and ready answers I can whip out without having to think about it, that would helpful!

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10 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Experiences, Part 3: “Tu allaites encore?”

  1. You should not stop! As long as you both enjoy it, go for it! However, I can relate as my mother-in-law (and other women including some in medical roles) seemed surprised that I nursed more than a few weeks. It’s just not understood here. Sadly!

    • Thanks! We won’t be stopping anytime soon (if I can help it)! But I think my annoyance with other people asking about it will just increase!

  2. L says:

    I feel like so many French people think of breastfeeding as this pre-feminism “fardeau”, and expect women to cast off the shackles of breastfeeding as fast as possible. But of course when it’s working for you so well, it’s not a burden. I think their dismay is more of a reflection of their experience. Maybe ask if they’re surprised your still breastfeeding because they had a difficult experience?

    • Interesting, I hadn’t thought about it that way. That does help me to understand where they’re coming from. Most of the people who make the comment never breastfed at all.

  3. I think because a lot of women only breastfeed for a short time, they don’t realise how much easier it gets with time, to the point where it’s definitely simpler than bottle feeding. I had a few of these comments around the 6-7 month mark, often followed by, “but are you not really tired?” (Answer: Yes, but that’s do to with looking after a baby, not how I’m feeing it!) In my experience people are often surprised and sometimes admiring, but I’ve never felt any criticism.

    Since SCB was about about 9 months, she’s rarely been feeding out and about, so there are fewer opportunities for questions. If people do ask, I tell them we’ll stop breastfeeding when one of us decides we don’t want to do it any more. People rarely push the the conversation any further, but if they do, I just tell them I think breastmilk is healthy and stop there.

    Expressing at work, though, was something I was extremely glad to be able to give up on!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with the comments. I was called to a meeting out of town yesterday with some colleagues, so they newly became aware that I was pumping at work, hence the comment. Up until yesterday nothing had really been negative, but even just the “you’re still breastfeeding?” makes me want to answer with nothing more than “yes,” especially because people ask the question when the answer is obvious.

      It seems most breastfeeding mothers in France quit when they go back to work, so I guess you’re right that most women don’t realize how easy it gets.

      I have certainly learned so much about breastfeeding that I didn’t know beforehand, so maybe I shouldn’t hold it against people—but I really think in the US I wouldn’t have gotten any comments as early as 6 months!!

    • I remember finding that question very odd when I was pregnant too. My mother-in-law was the first to ask—“As-tu pensé à l’allaitement?” I wasn’t even sure why she was asking, or what to answer. “Oui j’y ai pensé?”

      Now as a breastfeeding mom I’m curious because every time I find a new mom that’s breastfeeding, I feel less alone!

      Thanks for the buzzfeed link—a few of those made me lol.

      • I love how open you are about it all! It makes me fee comfortable coming to you if I have any questions (if that’s cool?).

        I saw the article this afternoon and that one made me immediately think of your recent comments. The rest make me a bit nervous for my future. Lol.

      • Absolutely, feel free! I’m sure your experience will be different from mine but some frustrations do seem universal. Also, most of those things on the list weren’t anywhere near as bad as the article makes them out to be, for us. (He hasn’t bit me yet!) Except maybe the latching problems (who ARE these overachieving babies???).

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