Before I ever got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. This was based more on a gut feeling than anything else. It just seemed like a natural, easy, logical choice. I didn’t really give it much thought.
Then I became pregnant with Ian, and like many first time moms, I started to read and research just about everything I could about all things babies and parenting. For a topic that is hardly ever discussed (not even in movies or TV- all those newborn babies are fed off screen magically, I guess), there certainly is a lot out there to read. And the wide range of thoughts, opinions, and experiences is just astounding. Everything from what a beautiful, effortless, harmonious experience it is in which mother and baby really bond and instantly connect to horror stories of pain, engorgement, and mastitis. Once you got past the personal accounts, there were endless recommendations of the best positions/holds, whether to demand feed or schedule feed, and of course the cautionary tales of the oh so dreaded and feared nipple confusion. There was so much to digest that it made my head spin. This thing that I had decided to do was suddenly becoming intimidating and overwhelming.
After taking a deep breath, I pushed everything aside. I read up on the proven benefits of breastfeeding, talked to some family and friends to get their experiences, and made my decision.
Yes, I would breastfeed.
Even with the uncertainty and information overload, my gut still told me this was the path I wanted to take (it also didn’t hurt that breastfeeding is free while formula is not). I set my ultimate goal at that magical 12 month mark, but also told myself it would be OK if we didn’t make it that far. This permission to stop (not give up) if necessary helped lower the stress and pressure.
Then Ian was born, and I finally got to give this breastfeeding thing a try. I’m not going to lie- it wasn’t instantly easy and it wasn’t painless. But it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had feared. And the pain was temporary and short-lived.
The lactation consultant in the hospital was fantastic, so I’m sure that helped significantly. She answered my questions and helped me get the latch right. She also introduced me to the wonders of Lanolin (for that, she is a goddess!!). I left the hospital feeling mostly confident that I had breastfeeding under control. It took probably a solid week before I considered myself proficient and closer to a month before I was a self-proclaimed pro. But I got there. And looking back, it was a journey I’m glad I took.
Ian breastfed for 9 months. When we nightweaned (which, by the way, took one night- but that’s a topic for a different post), he decided to stop daytime feeds too…kid went cold turkey on me. I thought it was one of those fabled “nursing strikes”, but it lasted a month and nothing I tried worked. So, finally, after a full month of pumping and no nursing, I called it quits. The decision was bittersweet. Breastfeeding had its challenges (our biggest hurdle was biting), but it also had huge rewards. I wouldn’t change that experience and time for anything.
And now that my baby is a rambunctious toddler, I often find myself reminiscing about those early days when it was just me, him, a pillow, and a rocking chair.
Have questions about breastfeeding? The World Health Organization has tons of great information! Struggling to get the hang of things? Reach out to a lactation consultant- the La Leche League is a great place to start and a fantastic resource. And of course, you can always ask me questions about my own breastfeeding experience- I’d love to share!