Thursday, August 16, 2012

National Breastfeeding Month

It's August, and besides being the month of my DH's birthday it is also National Breastfeeding month!  So I thought it fitting to share my own breastfeeding story...for moms out there that are getting discouraged.  First, let me start by saying that breastfeeding is HARD.  In fact, everything about being a mother is hard, but this is really, really, hard.  I remember when I was pregnant with my second baby thinking: "I'm going to exclusively breastfeed my baby, as long as he wants, as much as he wants, when he wants it..."  Good intentions, but what I didn't realize was that in the nursing equation there are always two givens: the mother AND the child.  So just because I was willing to breastfeed did not mean that my child knew how or was good at it himself.  My LO came out of the womb very hungry and ready to go, what I didn't anticipate was the piranha grip.  I did not coin the term, his pediatrician did.    He latched on with such force and vigor that within three days of regular round the clock nursing the obvious happened: shredded, sore, bloody nipples.  He had lost more than 15% of his body weight from birth, so I was supposed to feed him around the clock to get him "up to speed".  It was an uphill battle to feed this baby every. single. day.  I got a breast pump and was able to heal in time, but this was crazy!  I was supposed to be experienced right?  This was after all my second child, and I had no problems whatsoever the first time.  I was supposed to be a pro.  Every feeding was completely miserable,  I swore I was done with this breastfeeding stuff, this ancient, un-modern, barbarian practice.  Somehow I kept going, and going...but why?  It is so much easier to formula feed...MUCH easier, the baby is not on you all the time and you can actually schedule feedings every 3 to 5 hours, so why is it that couldn't I give it up?  Something in me kept pushing through, maybe it's the fact that we grew up with a mother that belonged to "Amigas do Peito" (Friends of the Breast) which is the Brazilian equivalent to LaLeche League.  A mother that breastfeed one of my siblings wayyyy past toddlerhood.    I remember her going to meetings and talking to friends about the importance and health of breastfeeding for the child and the mother.  Though I think the thought of my mother's personal parenting style played a part in my decision,  I don't think it was the main influence on my decision.  It was the nurturing aspect of nursing that I was in love with.  The smell of his little head near my face, his little hands caressing my chest, his warmth and little body so relaxed, so peaceful and in tuned with mine.  Being a mother is a weird thing, it feels like you're always oscillating between completely crazy and completely in control, but while I was nursing my little boy I felt 100% in control of my body and of my baby's health.  And while my LO is not exclusively breastfed, he still nurses for 90% of his feedings and now breastfeeding is a joy.  It feels like stepping in a warm bath, comfortable and soothing for baby and I.  It is no longer a struggle.  We hung on and looking back I am so proud of myself for doing what I felt was right for our family.  I hope that I am able to continue to breastfeed my LO for a very long time, because I know that there will be a day when he will no longer need my nourishment, but I will always need him and his love, the smell of his head, his little hand stroking my chest while he quietly and gently falls asleep.

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