American Mother Breastfeeding in Argentina
Where to begin, where too begin. I am from Michigan originally. Currently, however, I am living in Barranqueras, Chaco, Argentina. I know, it’s a mouthful right? 🙂 I am 25, a full-time mom, wife, and co-owner of a mini-market in our city. Oh yeah, I’m also a linguist! 🙂 Long story short, I met my hubby while I was studying in Buenos Aires.
He came to visit his family and I just happened to be his cousin’s friend. His grandma invited me to come to the northern province of Chaco to visit another part of Argentina. We started dating on my trip (December 2010). I then had to return to Michigan to finish my degree and when I finished, I got a job in a Chile teaching English. A month before I was to report to teach, I made the long journey to Chaco to be reunited with my boyfriend after one year and six months of our long-distance relationship. From this point, the rest is just history! We have never left each other’s side since. 🙂
Our son was born on February 17, 2014. Before his birth, I had become a really adamant supporter of breastfeeding, trying not to use formula if possible, and being supportive to all the women out there who have the desire to use one of the gifts of womanhood to benefit their children. I even had people asking behind my back if I was pregnant just because I was sharing breastfeeding pictures and supporting posts, etc… Crazy right? When I got pregnant, I already had my plan in place. I was going to breastfeed, period.
Now, there is a big difference between living in Michigan and living in Chaco, Argentina. One main thing is that you see mommas whippin’ out their boobs left and right when their babies are hungry…. Okay maybe not left and right, but you get the picture ;). There is no shame. And that’s with a hugely over sexualized culture, folks. I think maybe the main difference is that the baby that is hungry is put at a higher level than what other people think, men, women, children, whomever. Even the government pushes for only breast milk for the first 6 months of life. There are posters that say that mothers shouldn’t give their babies bottles or pacifiers until after 6 months. But, as usual, with culture change and influences of formula, most mothers believe the myths that “mother’s milk does not satisfy the baby” and others that you will hear periodically if you listen to the comments being made about your child or children. In Michigan, I am not really sure. I wasn’t really around the breastfeeding culture because as far as I remember, my cousins or people I knew, gave their babies formula. Only a few gave their babies breast milk. I do know that the support systems set up for women in the US, e.g. La Leche League and breastfeeding associations, are something to be taken advantage of because here you don’t see or hear of them, unless you just give birth and a lactation consultant comes in to help you.
When Elías was born, I remember they put him at my breast, said, “permiso” which means “excuse me”, and squeezed my breast so milk came out and got Elías sucking. I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing! It was like everything I believed in and stood for was put before me and I was like…. Ummmmm what am I supposed to doooooo??? My mom was in Michigan, I was in a hospital on the other side of the world…. What happened next?
The lactation consultant had to show me multiple times how to latch, as each one put it, “the baby has to learn just as you do”.
This made me feel a liiiitle bit better, but not much. Elías was crying and I was latching and relay hung trying to get him sucking right and trying not to think of myself as a failure! First time mom, alone in a country that is not my own, waiting for my husband to come during visiting hours, hormonal and bleeding like crazy with my uterus shrinking every time my beautiful baby boy ate, I mean come on! Breastfeeding should be easy right? Wrong! I now understand why so many women get discouraged. It’s hard! Your boobs hurt, your milk won’t let down, or it lets down so much your baby like chokes, you can’t get a good latch, you get a good latch after what seems like 50 million tries, you fall asleep while nursing and your boob gets left out so you leak alllllll over the place, etc etc etc…. Yeah, I think you get the drift. Plus, here at least, your baby starts crying and people start yelling “Dale la teta! Dale la teta! Pobrecito! Tiene hambre y no le estás dando de comer!” “Give him the breast! Give him the breast! Poor thing! He is hungry and you aren’t feeding him!” I think I about bawled my eyes out to my mom saying that I thought that everyone thought I was a horrible mom or something. Man, those hormones are soooooo up and down. High highs and low lows. C.r.a.z.y. No wonder we feel so overwhelmed with everything.
I would, however, like to give props to my husband. To this day I thank him for standing by my side in everything and even helping me with nursing our babe. He helps me remember which breast was given last, ideas for the now solids we are introducing, telling me his opinions on breast feeding and what he thinks works for us as a family, supporting co-sleeping, even though we were given a bassinet with all intention of using it, and many other things. Breastfeeding is so much easier when you have someone to support you, whether it be your spouse, mother, grandmother, or any other person.
Today, I sit in our store and breastfeed whenever Elías wants. The bond is indescribable, incredible, emotional, and so much more. We have no restrictions. There is no time limit. Even during the night, when he wake up beside me and starts opening his mouth to feed, I’m right there to comfort him as he is sleeping. How much more could I want? How much more could I be thankful for? On one side sleeps my husband and on the other, my precious baby boy.