I was raised by an outspoken advocate of extended breastfeeding. Many of the women in my life have openly breastfed in my presence. It’s just a part of motherhood, one that I am very comfortable with. I understand the benefits to both mom and baby and understand why it’s best. I was commited to breastfeeding long before I was pregnant. It has always been something I’ve known about myself, part of motherhood to which I looked forward longingly.
We are four months in, my Leah and me. While exclusively breastfeeding is undoubtedly the most demanding committment a woman can make, it is also the most rewarding. There is no way to know how satisfying it is to use your own body to nourish another until you see it happening, that little tiny body a little chubbier each day. Breastfeeding is so much more than the act of transferring nutrients from one body to another, it is an intimate relationship. That’s the part I have found to be miraculous, for which I am so grateful…. All those hours spent cuddled up, close together in warm comfort, just the two of us, her hungry little self relying on me for everything she needs. I love to see her happy face as she gets ready to latch on, hear her relieved sighs as she starts to feel satisfied, see her body relax as she gets comfortable, watch her eyes heavily droop as she begins to doze off. There is no way to know until you’ve experienced it, that breastfeeding your baby is as much a gift to her as it is to yourself.
I am lucky to have been very much supported in my journey to successful breastfeeding. I was surrounded by midwives, my lactation consultant mother and the most pro-breastfeeding husband a lady could wish for when Leah was born. I delivered in a “n0 formula” hospital and my baby latched on within minutes of birth, so the odds were in my favor from the start. Not all women have that type of support and manage to figure it out on their own, which I admire. Even with all the help I had it was still a struggle at the beginning. If I had not been completely commited, there was more than one instance when I might have given up.
Leah was tongue-tied at birth, so she breastfed incorrectly, and for endless hours, for the first 2 days. After that was corrected she had to relearn how to latch on, at the expense of my poor nipples. They cracked, bled, blistered, felt like razorblades were slicing them open with every latch. I winced and carried on. With the help of nipple shields, cool gel soothies, lanolin and sheer determination, my nipples healed and nursing stopped feeling like torture. My baby ate and ate and ate, and got fat fat fat! Perhaps I appreciate our success more because of the early struggles.
I’m lucky to have been able to stay with her around the clock for these last four months, allowing me to feed her every single time she’s been hungry. That is a gift that I am truly grateful for. I have realized that I love feeding her, it seems, as much as she loves eating. I am in no hurry to pump bottles for my husband to give her, in no real rush to get her sleeping through the night or to introduce solids because I am happy, thankful, delighted each and every time she dive bombs my chest or punches me in the boob in my sleep to tell me she’s ready to eat. I knew I would follow through on my commitment to breastfeed, but I never imagined that I would fall completely in love with it.
Without being overbearing and pushy, I want to be supportive and helpful to other nursing moms. I will encourage anyone willing to listen and share my story of struggle and success. I’ve joined a breastfeeding support group online and follow a few pages dedicated to the subject. I’ve become passionate and hungry (pun intended) for knowledge. I look forward to many years of breastfeeding in my future and learning as much as I possibly can about it.
Did you fall in love with breastfeeding or find it to be a burden? What were the factors that lead to your success?