Mothers produce milk. Mothers feed baby. That was all there was to it right?
I hadn’t done much research on the topic at the time, 7 years ago, and had very little knowledge, other than the basics. Until becoming pregnant, there was no immediate need to gain knowledge on the subject. The minimal information I did have, formed my viewpoint and shaped my expectations or lack thereof, on breastfeeding all together.
In this blog post, I am sharing my real life breastfeeding journey with you all in hopes that it will resonate with mommies who have experienced the same as I have, and shine light on the realities (of some) on breastfeeding. This blog post also serves as an informational hub, inclusive of amazing resources to keep other mommies informed with the information I did not have until now.
As a backstory, when I gave birth to my daughter I was very young.
A breastfed child was not something I had seen plenty of times over at this point in my life. I have never been up close and personal to a breastfeeding mama, until it was time for me to breastfeed myself. I did not know what I did not know. I entered this new journey with zero direction on the right questions to ask, let alone how or whom to ask.
Allow me to walk you through my breastfeeding journey…
Prior to giving birth to my daughter, I had always heard breastfeeding to be this amazing bonding experience. It was the time for mother and baby to connect with one another and become one. I had high, positive, expectations. I envisioned breastfeeding your child to be almost magical.
I expected to be filled with emotion and warmness as myself, and my child would be on one accord. Holding breastfeeding in the highest regard, I would be the primary source of nutrition for my baby. When breastfeeding my child, it would be so natural. I would be fulfilling my purpose in life. Just us two; the birds chirping in the forest, the sun shining brightly through the trees…a real Disney movie.
You can imagine how distraught I became when I was catapulted out of my fairytale, when things did not go as envisioned.
Or should I say my reality?
When I gave birth to my daughter she was premature.
Giving birth to my daughter via emergency c-section took its toll on me not only mentally and emotionally, but physically as well.
It was truly A LOT!
More than I expected and if I can be completely candid, more than I was equipped enough to handle all at once.
Now if you have gone through childbirth in a traditional hospital setting, then you may have already experienced the first few moments of “frenzy”…at least, that’s my opinion. Almost immediately after childbirth, doctors/nurses try to initiate skin-to-skin contact, and then want you to attempt a latch with your newborn child. All of which are wonderful and positive things.
For some mommies, this comes very naturally and it is that moment of true connection between mother and infant. However for others, such as myself, breastfeeding is something that has to be worked at and I realized this from the very beginning.
Latching was difficult.
Breastfeeding with a new c-section scar was difficult.
Milk Production was difficult.
Pumping was painful.
I was lost.
Although in hospital nurses do assist you during your first latch, after a quick 3-day stay I was off to do this on my own.
Once home, the struggling continued.
The milk I managed to produce never seemed to changed from colostrum to maturity. I thought my body had not yet realized I actually had this baby and was waiting for it to catch up. (A now known misconception of my own.)
*Colostrum – the first form of milk produced by the body.
I became extremely disappointed. I internalized my breastfeeding struggle and put the blame on myself and my ability to be a mother. I felt I was not cut out for the tasks and was concerned my child would suffer.
My baby was frustrated and I did not know how to help her. Feeding time consisted of a crying, hungry newborn and a teary-eyed frustrated mama. I was in constant pain as my nipples had begun to crack and at times even bleed. (This can happen.) Something was not working and I did not know where to start.
After two months of trying constantly and worrying my child was not being fed enough, I decided to stop breastfeeding all together. The decision was not an easy one and left a pit in my stomach for quite some time as I transitioned my daughter to formula.
What I Know Now:
What I can say about my breastfeeding experience, is that my lack of knowledge and access to the necessary information contributed greatly to my experience. I had no idea breastfeeding resources existed, let alone where to find them.
Which is why this post today, in honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
There are mommies who have begun or who are considering breastfeeding their child(ren) in the future. What I will say is that knowledge truly is power. The more you know, the more you can make informed decisions, work to correct challenges and ask questions.
To the mommies currently struggling with breastfeeding, you are not alone. Breastfeeding has been done since the beginning of time, and there have been thousands of women who have experienced struggle with the process.
Know that you are ENOUGH.
Breastfeeding does not always come naturally to everyone, both mother and child. I struggled and I now know that it is OKAY. Accept your journey, no matter what it is, and do not be afraid to speak on challenges. There are thousands upon thousands of women who have struggled just like you and I…after all we have been doing this since the beginning of time. Don’t allow anyone to shame you for your struggles or your journey…not even yourself.
To all mommies, you are a great mother whichever route you and your child choose to take, however you get there.
Now on to some must-read breastfeeding resources!!
Breastfeeding Tips, Stories & Information
- 3 Tips For Breastfeeding Success Plus Must Haves For Every Nursing Mom by Alice (Nuggetlands)
- Breastfeeding and Expressing What You Need by Amanda (Mummy Confessions)
- How To Increase Your Milk Supply by Mckenzie (Today Mommy)
- Does Taking Fenugreek Increase Breast Milk Supply? by Diana (Forever My Little Moon)
- How To Store Breastmilk Properly by McKinzie (Today Mommy)
- 3 Not-So Little Things : Breastfeeding by Paula (Parenting with Paula)
- The Logistics of Breastfeeding Twins (How to Double Nurse Without Help) by Kimberly (Team Cartwright)
- What to Do When Breastfeeding Twins Bite by Kimberly (Team Cartwright)
- Breastfeeding in Ramadan by Afra (Through Mama’s Eyes)
- Guide to Breastfeeding While Traveling for Military Mom by Jennifer (Teach.Workout.Love)
- Tips for Breastfeeding for the Long Haul by Nicole (3 Kids and a Hubby)
- Alternative Ways to Use your Breastmilk by Meg (Momming Adventures)
- Breastfeeding Pain and Cracked Nipples by Cindy (Living for the Sunshine)
- Breastfeeding Tips by Afra (Through Mama’s Eyes)
- Breastfeeding Benefits For Mom And Baby by Caitlin (Real Mom Recs)
- How to Be an Active Breastfeeding Mama by Jennifer (Teach.Workout.Love)
- Breastfeeding Struggles, Advice, Success by Kathleen (Life by Kathleen)
- How To Get A Free Breast Pump by Caitlin (Real Mom Recs)
- Must Have Supplies for Breastfeeding Twins by Kimberly (Team Cartwright)
- 6 Breastfeeding Must Haves by Diana (Forever My Little Moon)
- Make Breast Pumping Easier (DIY) by Toni (Our Family Code)
- Pumping Must Haves for Breastfeeding Moms by Cindy (Living for the Sunshine)
- Weaning Twins by Kimberly (Team Cartwright)
- 5 Simple Steps to Weaning from Breastfeeding by Emily (Journey of Parenthood)
Special thank you to all the amazing women whom have been so gracious as to share their knowledge, journeys and information on breastfeeding ! ❤