It occurred to me after reading an article on BlackandMarriedWithKids.com that I’d neglected to share my own personal journey in the world of breastfeeding.
By the time Caitlyn came along, just 19 short months after the birth of her brother Matthew, I thought I was a pro at breastfeeding.
BOY WAS I WRONG!
I learned so much from the experience, both its high’s and lows. I’ll do my best to recap my breastfeeding journey with my babies and offer some helpful insights in the process.
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding, here’s some of the things you need to know and be prepared for:
It is work!
Breastfeeding is not for whimps! It can be a challenge and my overly hormonal self shed many tears along the way. That’s normal and to be expected. Just be prepared that formula feeding is definitely easier than breastfeeding but far less beneficial. They are not the same, in ANY way.
Here’s the truth: Neither of my children nursed 100% of the time.
That’s right, I said it. Breastfeeding is a learning process for both mommy and baby and guess what? Learning takes time and not everyone learns at the same rate of speed. Just because YOU’RE ready for baby to nurse, doesn’t mean that he or she will. Accept this as normal also. The first month is the toughest for breastfeeding moms and babies. I had no idea in the beginning that babies had to actually “learn” how to suck. I thought we were all born knowing how to do that! Folks, I had a lot to learn. lol!
Think of formula as training wheels.
As I tried to prepare my babies to nurse, they weren’t always successful so they were formula fed the first few days of their life. When my milk came in (that’s right… milk comes in and it’s quite a sight when it does…yikes. lol!) When moms initially start lactating, they don’t produce enough milk for baby. Our bodies have to be trained. So what I’d do is express or “pump” as much milk as I could and mix it with formula. Eventually, as I continued pumping, my body kicked into gear and gradually, I was producing enough milk to totally do away with formula.
You must have support!
I don’t know what I would have done without the nurses at St. Francis Women’s Hospital! They were very supportive and knowledgeable. Also, it helps tremendously to know other fellow mommies who have walked down the same 2 a.m. feeding road. Their knowledge and encouragement is PRICELESS!
You MUST take care of yourself!
Unlike with formula feeding, it’s all about baby… sorta. I personally think formula smells worse than swill that even a hog wouldn’t swig, but that’s just me. But when it comes to nursing, mommy you’re the supplier so you have to stay healthy. For me, that meant eating right, abstaining from foods that could irritate baby’s tummy (spicy foods, onions and sometimes garlic, and certain medications) and staying hydrated. A nursing mom can express as much as 18 or more ounces of milk per day. In the picture above, Caitlyn has an 8 oz bottle. Doesn’t she look happy?! lol! There are some mothers who are completely against any bottle feeding whatsoever. I say do what works for you and baby. I’d rather a baby be bottle fed breast milk all their baby life than given synthetic formula.
That’s just me though…
Don’t forget daddy.
With Matthew and Caitlyn’s dad, nursing was completely new ground. He’d never seen it done and for some reason, he and his family had reservations about my decision to breastfeed. But just like I chose both my children’s names, I chose their method of nutrition. After he saw my commitment to breastfeeding, he eventually came on board. For a guy, he was actually quite understanding. I didn’t hide the nursing process from him. It was difficult some days, and he got to see the best and the worst of it. I can recall having to nurse in the backseat of my truck on more than one occasion on family outings. lol! When I had leaking accidents, he didn’t tease me. He didn’t freak out when it was time to express milk or nurse and he was willing to give them their bottles when spending time with them. Sometimes, all it takes is being introduced to something new to realize that it’s not all that bad or impossible to do.
There’s so much more I could share about breastfeeding but time won’t allow. Overall, it was one of the most difficult but rewarding experiences of my mothering life. I had to think outside of the box many of occasions. But I can say with sincerity that God was with me every step of the way. He put mothers in my path who would support me with knowledge and answer my questions. He gave my manager at the time compassion for me which allowed me to take as many unscheduled nursing breaks as I needed throughout the day.
My biggest piece of advice is this…
God is with you mom.
If you make a commitment for the good of your child, God WILL make a way for you. Your provision may not come as mine did but I guarantee you, He will make a way somehow! I always had a clean, safe place to nurse. There were times I could even leave work to nurse my babies in my arms. God was with me.
And as He was with me, so shall He be with you!