Although my son is now three years old, nursing my little one is a memory that remains fresh in my mind and heart. Regardless of how much times passes, I think that the more awareness and knowledge new moms have, the better.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was a dozen emotions all wrapped up into one hormonal bundle. Sure I was ready to be pregnant. Come on, I had seen enough social media to be prepared for 9 months of cute maternity clothes, a perfectly glowing complexion, Rapunzel like hair, and an unlimited supply of ice cream in the freezer. How hard could pregnancy be? Reality sunk in quite quickly, when the body that had once been entirely my own, was now morphing into unrecognizable shapes seemingly overnight. As well as symptoms that WebMD had not prepared me for. Sleepless nights sumo wrestling pillows trying to get comfortable-ish, heart burn equivalent to swallowing a heated curling iron and days spent waddling around in sweatpants with a container of stale donuts in hand, convincing myself I was fashionably casual. Oh, pregnancy at its best.
Then came birthing. With my midwife by my side, of course the dream of a natural birth in under 30 minutes with essential oils drifting through a room filled with violins playing would have been great. But a 36 hour marathon of excruciating back labor, followed by an emergency C section was a close second right?! RIGHT?! However, a beautiful baby boy was placed upon my chest and all was well.
Then reality reared it head again. Feeding my newborn? I was a mom, this was MY child and MY body was now responsible for nourishing and providing him with the healthiest start possible. The decision to nurse was easy for me since my own natural approach to nutrition went hand in hand with my beliefs that breastfeeding was best for baby. I knew that bottles, sanitizing, and formula was just not for me. And nursing was effortless right? I had seen enough happy lil’ babies tucked under nursing covers in restaurants and shopping centers. Baby to breast and wa-la, countless hours of cuddles and quiet moments nursing an angelic newborn. Oh reality….. where are thou now? Although nursing was an immediate success at the hospital for the first few days, the journey of breastfeeding was not nearly as simple as I thought. It wasn’t for the faint of heart at times between possible latch problems, engorgement, pain, mastitis, blocked ducts, fever, exhaustion, and general feelings of frustrations and doubt. Not to mention crying baby….. and let’s be honest, sometimes crying mom. Fortunately there is so much support, information and help available for breastfeeding moms. Sometimes a few small adjustments is all that is needed for success.
So although it may have been much harder at times than I originally thought, it was also ten times more rewarding and fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. My life had changed and my priorities shifted. Putting my newborn first means doing things I might not necessarily be thrilled about. Yet knowing I was doing the best I could for my baby made it all worth while. I was determined to breastfeed for at least six months and after that I would allow myself the space to stop without guilt or question. The beautiful thing was, after six months of nursing it was second nature. My hormones were more balanced, my son was happy and healthy and feedings were much less frequent. Those quiet moments of bonding between my son and I are forever ingrained in my heart. There is something so beautiful about a women’s body doing what it was designed to do. I’ll be honest, there were times in the first few months where I could not see where or how it could possibly get easier. However, I am so glad that I didn’t give up, because I was able to nurse for 15 months. There is so much information at our fingertips and sometimes a few simple adjustments is all that is needed for success.
How you choose to feed your newborn is a personal decision and not one that should require any shaming, guilt or ridicule. I always believe that you know what’s best for you, your body and your baby. A new mom’s general sense of well-being affects a baby just as much as what they are digesting. If breastfeeding your baby means extreme frustration, anxiety towards feeding your newborn, or uncontrollable stress, then you might be doing more harm than good in forcing breastfeeding. If snuggling with your little one while feeding them a bottle gives you the peace of mind and sanity needed to be able to enjoy this precious time with your baby, than by all means heat that bottle up. Or maybe you have tried everything, including a lactation specialist and medically or physically your body is unable to nurse. Everyone is different. I loved breastfeeding. But that’s me, and you are you. So if breastfeeding if your choice, awesome. If pumping is your decision, perfect. And if formula feeding is your choice, fantastic. All that matters if that you are giving your baby the best quality for their little growing bodies. Us mom’s have enough to worry about, we don’t need the judgement of others to add to that. This should be a time of loving and embracing your little miracle. Not a time of second guessing yourself. You are doing great mom!
Learn more about feeding your little one from The Honest Company. They offer great products for moms who choose to breastfeed or formula feed. A company that empowers new moms without any judgement to make the best choices for their family is a company I support. In this crazy world is motherhood and parenting, support means everything.