World Breastfeeding Week. Since my blog is focused on what I feed my kids, I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss the most important thing I ever fed my children - my own milk! Here's is my breastfeeding story.
When I got pregnant with my son in 2003, I had no doubt that I would breastfeed him. I was not breastfed, but not many kids were in the 1970s. My sister breastfed both of her children, and I've always looked to her for parenting guidance. It seemed like the natural thing to do, why I have breasts in the first place. I couldn't deny that God designed my body to nurse my children! I took the breastfeeding class offered by my ob/gyn office and I read books on breastfeeding. I'm thankful I did both of those because it truly helped to be prepared.
When Grayson was born, I had a lactation consultant with me every step of the way. She checked on me the entire time I was in the hospital to make sure our breastfeeding relationship was going well. I had some pain for the first couple of weeks, but nothing too extreme. Grayson was a good eater from the very beginning, and I had good help going into it. I didn't appreciate it enough at the time!
When Grayson was three months old, we moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family. When I began working for my dad, I also began pumping twice a day. I was too cheap to buy the nice electric pump, so I used a hand pump until Grayson was a year old! At one point, I got worried that he would need formula if an emergency came up and I didn't have enough pumped milk, so I used one of those sample cans of formula to make a bottle. He wouldn't even taste it.
I didn't realize how few women in my area breastfed until the questions started rolling in about how long I planned to nurse, how could I do it when he had teeth, etc. I joined our local Junior Woman's Club, and ended up meeting a few other women that nursed their children. We discussed the need for breastfeeding education and support in our town, since there is no lactation consultant at the hospital. We began a breastfeeding support group for women who were pregnant or had nursing children. We also put together goody bags to be given to new moms at the hospital filled with information on breastfeeding and samples of breastfeeding products. We hoped these bags would compete and win against the formula bags!
When my daughter was born, I thought I was a breastfeeding expert. I had already nursed one child successfully and helped others nurse their kids. What more could I know? Wrong! Harper started off as a champion nurser, but she tore my nipples apart! I cried every time I nursed her for a solid two weeks. I bled, I screamed, I was being tortured...but there was no way I was giving up. After a lot of reading and talking to others, I figured out her latch was not deep enough and we worked to resolve it. After that hump, it was smooth sailing...until I got mastitis. Imagine the flu, plus sore boobs, plus a hungry baby. NOT fun. Oh, and this time around I got an electric pump. Why was I so stubborn the first time around? It was so much easier to pump with the electric...wow!
From there on out, we had a beautiful nursing relationship until she was around 17 months old and seemed to be losing interest. She was still nursing here and there, but her interest had dwindled quite a bit so I weaned her off that final bedtime feed.
I can't tell you how much breastfeeding meant to me and how strongly I feel about it. It comforted crying, soothed many boo boos, lulled into peaceful sleep, and created an everlasting bond between me and my children that can never be taken away. These were just the exterior benefits! I can't even begin to tell you about all the physical benefits we both received, but I love this article on the 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child. Neither of my children ever had one drop of formula, and I work a full time job!
This is getting long, but I could talk about breastfeeding all day! It is the reason why I care so much about what goes into my kids' bodies today. I started them off with the best, and I couldn't see letting go of that standard. I encourage every new mother to start her kids off the way nature intended, and GET HELP if the going gets tough! Nurse in public, share your story, and help any mom you can give her babies the best start!
P.S. I just thought of two more really selfish benefits of breastfeeding. It was free! I can't imagine spending money on formula when you can literally get the "cow" for free! And I lost my baby weight so fast without any diet or exercise. Score!