“Life is a journey, not a destination.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I did not know much about breastfeeding when I started my journey as a new mother. I never gave breastfeeding much thought until I was a few months pregnant. Based on a book list recommendation, while pregnant I read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman. This book is the La Leche League International’s (LLLI) resource covering everything from how to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy to weaning and everything in between. Other reading list suggestions included chapters or sections on breastfeeding too. These books, the internet, and many YouTube videos, provided me with most of my information.
It is funny how once I thought about and opened my awareness to the topic of breastfeeding like I cracked open the cover to the LLLI’s book, I realized how much information existed on the topic. Isn’t that the way it goes? Once you become aware of something, suddenly you notice its existence all around you? Books, articles, classes at the hospital, commentary, controversy and opinions about breastfeeding flooded me. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my child, but I was not sure how the process would go or if I would be successful. After all, how could something that I never thought much about create so much diverse information and opinions?
I do not have a younger sibling, and I was not around babies or younger children much growing up. I vaguely remember being very young, maybe around three years old, when our next door neighbor was nursing her child. I was playing with her older son who was close to my age and we were commenting about how maybe her breasts made different milk – plain and chocolate! Why else would she have two? Despite her assurances otherwise, I was not completely convinced.
As an adult, I was around friends who breastfed, pumped to feed, and formula fed. The decision always seemed like a personal one based on what was best for each of them and their families. I did not give it much thought or approach the topic with a preconceived notion as to what was best or worse or right or wrong. I leaned on these same friends for support after my son was born. I opened up to ask questions and seek feedback from them regarding some of the judgment I was facing in my breastfeeding journey. The floodgates opened with stories and experiences. I became even more intrigued by the diversity of experiences and started voraciously reading at every free moment to educate myself and out of interest and curiosity.
My son latched on in the labor and delivery room shortly after birth. I remember feeling amazed at his abilities and grateful for the help of those around me. I remained equally grateful for the nurses, lactation consultants and our doula who assisted me with how to hold my son during feeding and how to help him latch. Unfortunately, much (all?!?) of the reading and one thousand and one videos on YouTube that I watched in preparation for these first moments gave way to physical experience and not wanting to do something wrong with my precious newborn son.
And then they sent us home.
I remember walking into our house, placing the brand new car seat on our kitchen floor and looking at my husband. What do we do now?
I wish I could say that the beginning of our breastfeeding journey was all rainbows and butterflies, but it was not. In the beginning, breastfeeding was blur of feeding and mechanics. My husband and I desperately wanted to make sure our baby was eating enough. As new parents, we would stare at our new bundle of joy in search of some sort of infant bat signal to tell us he was okay.
Was I holding him correctly? Did he have a good latch? Do I feed from one breast or both? We managed through jaundice, slow to come in milk supply, pumping, cluster feeding, and a milk protein allergy in those blurry first few months. We’ would go around and around about whether or not we should supplement. Is he eating enough? Am I making enough? Is he okay? Is this feeding normal? Through each other’s support, some tears, and many hours on Google, we persevered.
After those first months, things changed. Our little family settled into a routine. My son was growing and thriving. At the same time, my body started to feel more normal. I began to relax about breastfeeding and started to trust my body. I no longer got lost in worry about things like his latch or if he was eating enough.
Breastfeeding became an act of love once I allowed myself to relax into the relationship. I love my body, maybe for the first time ever, for its ability to carry and feed my son. I love the time together – even in the wee hours of the morning. I love the simplicity of the routine and process. Throughout it all, my husband offered his steadfast support encouraging us all along the way. I love him more every day.
As my son gets a little older, our breastfeeding journey continues to change. I now see the positive emotional manifestation of the breastfeeding relationship in addition to the nutrition. Breastfeeding offers my son a home-base and a reset button in an exciting and sometimes overwhelming world. It gives me an additional tool as a mother to nurture his spirit.
As I read interesting articles or studies or listened to podcasts on breastfeeding, I would pass them along to my husband to read for himself or enthusiastically tell him about them over dinner. I mentioned to him that I thought about starting a blog because I found the topic so compelling. A few weeks later, he asked me if I was going to do it. A few weeks after that he asked again.
So, here I am with the birth of Feed Love Nurture where I will share about my own breastfeeding journey and all the fascinating information I find along the way.
I hope you will join me.