bicycle riding and breastfeeding

Guest Post by Nancy Harmon, RN, IBCLC, owner of Good Latch Breastfeeding Support Services and facilitator of the upcoming workshop,  More Than Boobs and Beer: A partner’s workshop.  


 What does bike-riding have to do with breastfeeding?

We’ve all seen them, a little kid, age 7,8 or 9 on the sidewalk with a brand spanking new bicycle, sporting wide grins or stern concentration as she tackles the daunting task of learning to ride.  You might see one tipped at an awkward angle, most of the weight on a training wheel making her way at the snail’s pace to the corner-that carefully measured distance her parents have allowed her to venture.  She sees her friends who have already mastered the bike, sailing off on the side of the street to the park, no longer needing the safely of the sidewalk.  It is with admiration, jealously and a little hate that she isn’t ready for that just yet.  She works hard to figure out the peddles and when to apply the brakes. After days of practice her dad comes out holding a wrench.  “Ok, time to take those training wheels off!”  Her dad, someone she trusts and loves unconditionally is saying something so scary, she can hardly breathe.  He promises to run along beside her holding the back of her seat-just in case.  He cheers her on as they run/ride down the sidewalk.  “You can do it!  Keep peddling! She is so caught up in her task that she doesn’t realize that her dad is out of wind as she turns to look at him from the corner where she has stopped.  He is still half way down the block.  She gained her balance making it to the end all by herself. Oh happy day!

We know that this little girl will likely sustain a skinned knee and a bruised spirit from time to time.  We also know that she will be successful and be able to take off with her friends one day.

We already know that fathers or partners are great advocates when it comes to breastfeeding-so great in fact research shows there is higher breastfeeding success because of that support.  Aunts, grand-mothers, fathers, grand-fathers, and fathers-in-law: The very people, who love and want the best for the women and their babies, are the advocates. Once these vital support people are given a chance to talk about their fears and misgivings, adopting the current evidenced-based science that breastfeeding is awesome; this will encourage them to start talking about breastfeeding knowledgably, realizing, by very simple means, how to support women, not only in their own families, but all women.  The empowerment of knowledge and the need for human love and kindness can have the impetus to change the culture to normalize breastfeeding.

A high percentage of expectant moms make breastfeeding a priority in their birth plans. Becoming an informed breastfeeding advocate will do more to make this a reality than anything else.  Start now by learning the many benefits for the whole family.  Be the cheer-leader when the theory is applied so the mothering instincts can soar. Find a way to nurture the mother while allowing her to find her own rhythm during the first weeks after the baby arrives.

As the days extend into weeks, those training wheels can be removed.  One day she will take that ride to the park.  Her dad smiling with pride will still hold a little trepidation inside, but he will keep cheering her on.

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