What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Right now, it's about centering. It's about a comforting act, a safe place for my daughter. It's about continuing to do what's best for her.
Who (or what) has helped you along this journey?
Early on, I got most of my support online. Facebook pages like The Leaky Boob helped remind me that nursing was great for my daughter. It also helps to have friends who breastfeed. I'm lucky to have met many moms through the local babywearing group and it was great to be in environments where it was absolutely normal and natural for mothers to just sit down and breastfeed among other people without a worry.
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
I love the connection we have when we look into each others eyes. It's hard to describe, but Katie M. Berggren has a wonderful painting that captures the feeling.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I've faced two challenges, I think, one early on in our relationship, and I'm feel like I'm still facing one now.
I was induced for pre-eclampsia and I lost a lot of blood in birth. Anemia can delay milk production and I still had no milk on Day 4, and while that could be considered normal, given that she had already lost 10% of her body weight and was jaundiced, I was incredibly worried. I was lucky, though, in that my lactation consultant recommended a short-term Supplemental Nursing System (SNS), which I hadn't realized was even an option. Being able to make sure my baby was being fed while at the same time stimulating my milk production is what allowed us to have a successful nursing relationship. My milk started coming in two days later and the SNS was put away and we exclusively breastfed from then on.
Our current challenge is nursing in public. When she was younger, I was incredibly comfortable with it, never covered and always nursed out of the top of my shirts. And then suddenly my daughter was two and a half, a child who walks and talks. I saw the backlash that came from Jamie Lynn Grumet's Time magazine cover and I've worried about the judgment, as I know that nursing is seen by most of the US as something only for the nutrition of little babies. She is three now and we rarely nurse in public, as she is older and capable of waiting, but on long plane rides, for example, when the day's been crazy and she's tired, I can't say "not now." (Nor would anyone on the plane want to hear her reaction to being told no.) So I've had to be brave and nurse her anyway. I know it's easy for people to say "just do it," but really, sometimes going against the norm and possible judgment does require bravery.