Breastfeeding #RealTalk Part 1
Prior to having our baby I hadn't really talked to too many people about breastfeeding. I had friends that breastfed, but there really was never any discussion around it. As far as I knew, it was the most natural and easy thing on the planet. Every woman has their own personal journey and experience, and my hope is that as women we can come together and encourage and support each other through our journeys, whether we understand them or not. Let's be honest, after we have a baby there's A LOT going on. Yes, there's a sweet little bundle of squishy perfection, but you also just gave birth; your hormones are raging, and you're maybe running on a couple hours of sleep.
And then they're hungry, like all the time. I remember after Ella had turned a month old, I felt like it was just one really long day of breastfeeding, but somehow already a month had gone by. So here is my experience, and hopefully it will help you on your journey, and give you some encouragement, or you may be nodding your head saying "been there!"
Let me start by saying that whatever you are going through, it's NORMAL. There are some things in life we really aren't able to understand or retain until we go through our own experience. I think that's part of why I hear so many new mama's say how unprepared they felt stepping into motherhood; a lot of things we were told we didn't hear because some things we just have to experience to understand. So if your reading this and have not yet entered this phase of life, just remember this one phrase, "what you're going through is NORMAL, and you aren't alone". Regardless of our experiences with anything, without even thinking we label them "good" or "bad". I spent the first few months crying daily over breastfeeding. Hormones and baby blues played a big role in that also, but breastfeeding was a rollercoaster ride! I was labeling my experiences as bad, because I thought breastfeeding was the most natural thing on the planet. And guess what? It is! But natural doesn't always mean easy (I should've known this after giving birth, lol). However, our mindset around our experiences can make it easier. Whatever your version of normal is in your breastfeeding journey, the most important thing is to have support. Breastfeeding can be hard and emotional, but there are tools to help you get through the process.
- Talk to some other women who have breastfed and gain a community of mama's that can be a support to you. Sometimes all you need to hear is " I went through that, too" or " That's totally normal" or "Don't give up, it gets easier."
- Locate a lactation clinic near you. Most hospitals have free lactation hours where you can go in and ask questions and get some help, and do weighed feedings. I remember feeling really isolated after having Ella; it's easy to slip into a mindset that you're the only one having a hard time if you're not around other women sharing experiences. Going to the lactation clinic was so helpful being surrounded by other mama's going through the same thing as me!
- If you haven't yet, attend a breastfeeding class. Honestly, you won't remember most of it. When it comes to the baby latching properly and the different nursing positions, it's really hard to know what any of it means unless you have your baby to practice with. But what it does do is provide you with a lot of breastfeeding knowledge to empower you to stick with it even when you may be faced with some challenges.
Photography by Sara's Tilted Lens
When we hear women say breastfeeding is hard, what does that even mean? Well a combination of sleep deprivation, and sore nipples contribute. I'll be writing my next post on the challenges I had, how I overcame them, and some tips that will hopefully help you if you ever have similar experiences as me! For now, in honor of National Breastfeeding week I want to answer the most frequent question I get, "is it worth it??" YESSSS! Once we got past the newborn phase and got into the swing of things, I wouldn't change it for the world. I love the convinience, I love the snuggles and bond, I love that my boobs go with me everywhere we go and it's one less thing to remember to walk out of the house with.
Ella got a cold and a little bug when she was 5 months old. I loved knowing that my breastmilk was tailored to her needs during that time. It's amazing how the human body works. As our babies nurse, our body reads their saliva and our breastmilk creates pathogens and antibodies to support and strengthen their immune systems. The picture to the left shows the difference in my breastmilk from healthy to when she was sick. The milk on the left is when she was healthy and the milk on the right is when she was fighting off that bug! So cool! My goal was a year, and I remember thinking "I can't wait for it to be a year!" Now that its approaching, I know I'll nurse longer and it brings bitter-sweet feelings thinking of when our breastfeeding journey will come to and end. Im so proud of every mama. Whether you've nursed 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years, be proud of your journey and your story. Remember, a fed and loved baby is what's most important.
How long have you nursed your babies?? Or what is your goal?? Keep boobin' on mama's!