What does Breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding has allowed me to not only nourish my son with the perfect food for his growing, sensitive system, but it has created an amazing bond between us. When my son was born, the world hit us with a lot of new challenges and stressors beyond what being a new mom usually brings. When things got tough, or life got crazy, our time together (no matter where we are or what is going on around us) is sacred. It's a time that allows us both to breathe, relax, contemplate and re-center ourselves. My son has the ability to bring me back to where I need to be and breast feeding always fixes the problems my little Levi has at hand. Everything from an empty stomach to a bonked head can be made better there.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
I want to say it's been pretty smooth going. Looking back I've had two bad clogged ducts, my son had some serious biting issues we eventually worked through, and he had a lip tie I only have noticed since his teeth came in that's now causing some extra wear on me from his top teeth (and may explain the clogged ducts). But even with all of that, it still feels like a smooth road I think because of how much we gain from our time. The few bumpy days come and go, but this experience is so worth every minute of it. For those wondering how we solved these issues: clogged ducts- ICE packs (not heat as that swells the duct) and lots of pumping and massaging!; biting- tried everything anyone suggested and he would just laugh at me, until one day he REALLY hurt me and I screamed so loud and set him down to grab myself to help with the pain and he finally realized it wasn't a game...; the lip tie- I suggest checking your kid for lip and tongue ties in their first week before it gets too thick and it's still a simple easy procedure to get clipped, by now it doesn't seem worth putting him through it, I can manage just fine with it (I'm used to it), but later due to orthodontia he's going to have to get a frenulectomy.
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
That bond... I love knowing I have everything he needs. God built it into me, literally! It's preparing me to continue to have what he needs when the milks all gone, that unconditional love that gives cuddles when life is upside down and helps you take a deep breath and come back to a better place. I feel like breastfeeding is teaching me to be the mom I want to be.
Who (or what) has offered you the most support?
My family and friends have been amazing. Levi and I have never really figured out (or liked) the cover thing. And I've never had any of my family embarrassed for me or shamed that I nurse in public without a cover. I did not see that coming! I expected the entourage to try and shield the rest of the world from me, but I think they see how comfortable I am when breastfeeding and it makes them proud. There have been a few times I've had friends try to help me cover, so I do what I can for their sake, and eventually they realize how discreet I am without covering and they stop trying. One of my best friends is a breastfeeding queen: so I learned a lot from her and always called when needing advice. Also my local LLL chapter is amazing! And the Facebook group has helped a lot.
Any advice for other mothers who want to breastfeed?
Take it a day at a time! If you have a rough day, think, tomorrow will be better. If you fear you'll need a break early, start pumping early. If you wait too late to start pumping, your supply regulates and you have a much harder time getting a stash built up. That way on those rough days, you can get some mommy time. We all need that! You'll be so grateful for your breast feeding time, no matter how long it lasts, so cherish it and enjoy every minute.