What does Breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding has encompassed so much more than just feeding my child food. The relationship that has developed the past 20 months between my son and I is a heavenly bond that will last us both a lifetime. There was never a question in my mind: I was going to breastfeed. There were simply no alternatives for me; it was just how it was going to be. Granted, I knew there might be some hiccups along the way, but I kept the attitude that I'd conquer them....no matter what. I didn't exactly know what to expect, but I did anticipate it would be a normal part of my life as new mother. The natural way felt like the right way.
Knowing that my baby's tiny mouth would find his/her food organically was something I'd been looking forward to. I am a woman and women can do amazing things like grow other humans beings inside their bodies. Now, this is cool. We really are superheroes! One of our superpowers as mother's is making milk even while we sleep! Pretty awesome. Breastfeeding leads to a healthy attached relationship which is another reason I'm drawn to it. Meeting the hunger as well as comfort needs of my child with the best source of goodness on earth is priceless.
What has been your biggest Breastfeeding challenge?
Engorgement was my the most intense hump I got over. My milk came in within two days and my son was nursing like a champ! I thought "this is going great, I'm making milk and my son is eating so all is good...guess this is all there is too it." I took a breastfeeding class so I thought I was prepared. Funny thing: engorgement was never mentioned in my class. I knew nothing of it until about a week postpartum when my breasts became hard and painful. I now had an idea of the potential unexpected challenges I might face along the way. I also had more compassion for those mothers who might not have support because it would have been easy to throw in the towel at that point. I never thought about having a pump readily available upon bringing baby home. My son's father went out and bought me a hand pump after our research told us what was happening. I began pumping in between feedings in hopes it would help. It did, but my unpreparedness and lack of knowledge on engorgement caused a delay in my recovery and more suffering in the long run. I would wet diapers and freeze them, wrap them around my breasts only to get an ounce of relief. I would also put frozen pea bags on my breasts to help reduce the swelling. I never did the cold cabbage leaves, but I wanted to try it! I didn't realize that my body was making more milk than my son was eating! Since the milk wasn't getting removed it was building up causing the engorgement. Ouch! Soon after this I purchased a double electric breast pump and I found that if I pumped on a regular basis in between feeding it would save me from being engorged again! This allowed me to store milk too!
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
I adore the feeling of knowing I'm giving my child a perfect food source. I also get fulfillment out of helping my son thrive by allowing him to be nourished unconditionally by my milk. Breastfeeding has created a safe place for him full of trust and love. Taking time to be fully present for him and with him throughout our days and nights together has created a tight bond. Breastfeeding allows me time to regroup and relax as well.
Who (or what) has offered you the most support?
My son's father and his family have supported my choice to breastfed my son wholeheartedly. Having someone, especially in the early weeks, supporting you made a world of difference. Having help getting the baby positioned and latched properly was a life saver! I appreciated little things like having someone get the water I had forgotten in the other room. Someone to care that I had water in the first place was nice too! All those times I had someone itch my head while I was pumping really made it better I tell ya! I would often think, "I know how moms with no support would possibly want to give up! THIS IS HARD! BREASTFEEDING IS LIKE A FULL TIME JOB!" Ha! True. I continue to be supported by them as I nurse a toddler and for that I am grateful. I have also reached out and connected with a multitude of breastfeeding support pages through Facebook as well! Overall, I find these very helpful & encouraging!
Any other advice for breastfeeding mamas?
Nursing on demand is so critical to establish a great milk supply from the beginning. Keeping a baby off a set schedule whether it be sleeping or eating is important to keep your milk up. Supply and demand is the name of the game. The more you nurse the more milk your body makes. The less you nurse the less milk your body will make. This means encouraging frequent feedings. Have confidence that your body is perfectly capable of creating the most wholesome food your child will ever ingest. Having this knowledge alone should boost your breastfeeding journey!