Name and age of your nursling?
My sweet little boy is named Malachi (pronounced Mal-uh-ki as in kite!) and at the time these images were taken he was 4 months and 5 days old.
What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding my son has been both a challenge and a joy. It means humbling myself and relying on God to provide for my baby, even when sometimes I can't.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
In my pre-baby mind I had assumed that breastfeeding would be easy since it's something that's ingrained in babies literally at birth. I was adamant that my baby would be strictly breastfed (or at least bottle fed breast milk) and looked down on moms that formula fed their babies, naively thinking it meant they were simply unwilling to take the time to breastfeed. Needless to say, I had a lot of pride...and you know what they say about what pride comes before right?
The first few weeks after his birth we struggled a lot with latch. It was painful. My nipples bled. So much for easy and natural! Around 2 months old, we introduced a bottle and I pumped so I could do some work (I own my own business). Suddenly, my sweet baby preferred the bottle over the breast and began absolutely refusing to breastfeed. I pumped. He ate. We tried to get him back to the breast. He would strike for days on end only eating when we gave him the bottle. My milk supply plummeted. Out of no where I was pumping less than an ounce from both breasts after usually pumping at least 5oz each time. And then a nurse friend said the "F" word......Formula. I was crushed. I cried a lot. I felt like I had failed as a mom...and as a woman. I felt the pressure to feed my baby the way I was created to (and the way it seems today's "mom world" expected me to) and felt ashamed when I couldn't.
With a ton of encouragement from several friends and especially my husband I finally realized... So what? So what if he has to be fed formula? He was happy and growing and that was what mattered. Humbly, I accepted that as long as those two things were true it didn't matter how he got fed. The stress and the pressure melted away. He was happy but I was still determined. He ate. I pumped. Slowly, slowly my supply came back up. We tried each time putting him to the breast, said "no big deal" when he refused it, and rejoiced when he would latch and eat until full. He's almost 5 months old now and has been breastfeeding great for almost a month now! No more strikes!
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
I love that it's something only I can do for him- that I was created to be able to do. I love those quiet moments only he and I share (even late at night). I love the way his big blue eyes look up at me while he's feeding and milk drips down his chin when he tries to smile with a full mouth. I feel so much joy when I hold my baby in my arms, watching him eat while praying over him and his future.
Who (or what) has offered you support in your journey?
My husband has been my biggest source of encouragement, especially through our challenging breastfeeding moments. He's checked and adjusted Malachi's latch early on, sat and prayed with me while I've cried over the emotional and physical pain, and cheered me on as we persevered to get Malachi back to the breast. Both my mom and my mother-in-law have been huge sources of encouragement as well. I'm so thankful for all of them.
Any other advice for moms who want to breastfeed?
Bottom line- get your baby fed. Don't let the pressure to breastfeed your baby stress you out past the point of being able to actually feed your baby. Don't worry if your milk supply drops every now and then. Don't worry if you have to bottle feed your baby or even formula feed. Yes, breast IS best. But having a happy and healthy baby is every mom's goal so get there however you need to and don't be ashamed if it's not the "pure breast" way. That being said....persevere. It won't always be easy, but when it works and you and your baby click- it will be beautiful and you will have so much joy!