What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding is so many things: nutrition, bonding, sacrifice, love, and what I was intended to do with my body as a mom. I have always been a mom who works outside of the house so for me nursing was and is a way to maintain a special connection to my baby. Any body can give the baby a bottle, but only I can nurse.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
My biggest challenge in breastfeeding was with my oldest who was born at 36 weeks, 15 years ago. I remember the NICU nurse said, "He is hungry. You know how to feed him, right?" I thought no, "I haven't taken that class yet." He did have a tough time nursing as he would get fatigued and I felt very pressured by so many professionals that he wasn't getting enough or maintaining his weight. The best advice I then received was from a friend who had nursed her 4 children and was a midwife. She said, "get that baby home, offer him the breast every 2 hours, and together you will figure it out" and we did. I have then nursed all of them to at least a year. With this baby, I got a skin infection on my breast and couldn't nurse from that side for a week while it healed. A wonderful friend gave me frozen milk to sustain him while I pumped and dumped on that side.
What do you love most about breastfeeding?
I love the connection that I get with the baby when they stare up into my eyes and I know that I am doing the very best thing in the world that can be done for them. I also like exposing others to the power and beauty of breastfeeding. My kids have seen that breastfeeding is part of everyday baby care and several of my friends who may not have thought of breastfeeding before have been able to see that it does work. I believe that as women we can be empowered and have increased confidence in our bodies when we are able to use its natural design.
Who (or what) has offered you the most support on your journey?
My mom was the first person to provide support to me, not as an adult, but by nursing me as well as having friends who all nursed their babies. I grew up having witnessed more people nursing than not. My aunt commented that when she had my cousin who is 4 years younger then myself, she was nursing and I immediately went and nursed my doll right along w/ my aunt. After that my supporters have been my husband who came from a family where no one nursed and he climbed on the breastfeeding train without any hesitation. Along w/ my midwife friend, I also had a few other older women friends who were nursing their kids to use as resources.
Any advice for moms who want to breastfeed?
When talking to moms about breastfeeding, I try to share all the wonderful benefits and blessings but also the reality that nursing is very hard. We forget that sustaining the life force of someone else will naturally require: good nutrition, hydration, rest, patience, and dedication. I say just give it 3-4 weeks and then in most cases you get into a groove where you can say "I got this."