World Breastfeeding Week

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd write a post to talk about my story on this journey. This may or may not be interesting or helpful to you, but what I have found is that even if someone doesn't comment on your posts, sometimes they are a help and/or inspiration to others.

The decision to breastfeed...well, wasn't really a decision for me. I honestly never thought about an option. My sister breastfed both of her baby boys throughout their first year while working full time and pursuing her Masters degree in Nursing. To me, breastfeeding was NEVER "weird" or "gross" or "uncomfortable." It was natural. I had many friends look at me curiously when I told them that I was going to breastfeed for at least the first year of Emory's life, and then give their (sometimes not so inspiring) story of failure in that area.

Before I had Emory, my sister told me that breastfeeding was like marriage. If there is a doubt in your mind that it just may not work and that is okay, because if things get tough you have other options - then there's a pretty good chance that you won't make it. She told me that I needed support - which she and my husband would definitely give. She told me to go to a breastfeeding class and scanned items on the shelf at Babies R Us when we were registering as I sat there in the breastfeeding aisle with a deer-in-headlights look. She passed down all of her nursing bras and tanks. She was my breastfeeding crutch - meaning, I leaned on her before and during breastfeeding.

Many of you have read Emory's birth story so I won't go into great detail, but the first few weeks of breasfeeding were not easy for me. I was very engorged, became dehydrated, Emory was dehydrated, Emory wasn't pooping like she should have been in consequence of dehydration, her weight wasn't where it should have been, I had very irritated skin that cracked and bled (also in consequence of the beginnings of breastfeeding and dehydration). When Emory wasn't up to her birth weight at 2 weeks I called the Pediatrician's office and the nurse told me to give formula. I politely declined and told her I was going to try some compression techniques and see how it went.

Emory started gaining weight slowly and I visited with the lactation consultant at my Pediatrician's office who watched a feeding and gave some great encouragement. She asked what my goal was for breastfeeding and I told her a year, and she was so encouraging. The visit went great and I felt like we were finally on track.

A couple of weeks later I developed my first case of mastitis. I had no idea what it was. I just knew that I felt AWFUL and it HURT! I woke up all night long with flu-like symptoms like chills and the sweats. I felt like I could hardly move I was so achy and my right breast hurt so much. After realizing what it was and going on antibiotics it got better in a few days.

I had two more bouts of mastitis after that. Finally, when Emory was around 3 months old, things finally got easier. And at 6 months they got easier. And now, at almost 9 months, it's second nature. During this journey I have done a lot of research on breastfeeding. I joined an e-mail listserv of lactation consultants so I have gotten to read their own questions and discussions on different breastfeeing scenerios. My heart has been opened to different situations and while I may not necessarily make it to extended breastfeeding, I now have started to understand the thought behind it. My opinions have changed and formed regarding topics such as breastfeeding in public and I often find myself getting angry when breastfeeding is mimicked or sneered at. I try to be understanding when other women have difficult situations and cannot make it through - because I know if they really enjoyed it and had to stop, it most likely was a very emotionally trying experience for them.

Please don't get me wrong with this post. Breastfeeding was tough for me but for some it's a breeze. My sister never had problems. When I would ask her some questions she would say "I'm not really sure, because I always had so much milk..." UGH! However, some women do have problems, some much more severe than my own. But making it through those tough times when I just wanted to quit was the best thing I have ever done. I am proud of myself and the fact that I'm "still" breastfeeding. I am happy that my baby has gotten the best she could get. I have enjoyed those moments where it has just been me and her - usually in the middle of the night - when I was the one to provide nourishment and comfort to her in a way that no one else could.

And that is my breastfeeding story. If you are a breastfeeding mom, I'd love to hear your story, too...because I feel that this should be celebrated among women and encouraged as much as possible.



Gina said...

So glad we have had each other for support during our breastfeeding journeys! I didn't think I would need advice the second time around! Proud of you for sticking with it through the hard times!

Brandee Aryn said...

It's great to read someone's story as I'm currently going through my son's 6th week growth spurt where he is feeding allll the time!! I agree with you on feeling great being able to be the one to comfort and provide nourishment. That's great that you've stuck with it for so long!!! So much goes along with it that I never really thought about (special clothes, bras, annoying leaking and sometimes painful, etc), but it is worth it. I don't really have a goal because I had no idea how my body would do with it, but hopefully I can make it a while. I may have to do a breastfeeding post as well.