Breastfeeding my children has been one of the more emotionally-driven parenting decisions I’ve made. Before my son was born, I had decided that his nourishment would come – at least for the first six months of his life – solely from me. The same held true for my daughter. Thankfully, long-term exclusive breastfeeding works for my family, and for my body too. I nursed my son for 15 ½ months, gently weaning him when my husband and I decided we wanted to grow our family, and now, my 10 month old daughter and I are going strong. So, while I consider our breastfeeding journeys to be successful ones, the road to success was not an easy one.
Almost immediately after my son’s birth, I experienced incredible pain every time he latched onto my cracked and bloody nipples. Days after his birth, I developed mastitis and cringed and cried nearly every time he nursed. I remember squeezing my husband’s hand during our many, many middle-of-the-night feedings because the pain was unbearable. Like many new moms, I was exhausted, physically and emotionally drained, and felt overwhelmed by the thought of being my child’s only (chosen) source of nutrition. And in my darkest of moments, I wanted to quit. Many, many times.
Thankfully after reading many how-to latch a baby articles, trying different nursing positions, speaking with seasoned breastfeeding veterans, and many, many applications of nipple ointment, the pain began to subside and I began to love breastfeeding my babies (I had a rough breastfeeding start with my daughter too). More importantly, just as I wanted to quit the most, I remembered my I started breastfeeding in the first place: it felt natural and beautiful.
I could innumerate the hundreds of reasons why I love breastfeeding, but here are some of my top ones:
- the cuddles, the bonding, oh, my! – there’s nothing sweeter than feeling my baby snuggled up to my chest, happily and eagerly nursing away, looking contently, peacefully, and sweetly into my eyes.
- the smell of sweet, milky breath is simply intoxicating. Oh, and those milky smiles are to die for!
- it gives me a sense of peace and calm I find nowhere else. In the midst of a chaotic day, knowing that I’ll get some quiet, blissful time with my baby helps me re-center and re-group.
- breastfeeding fills my heart with love and my babies’ bellies with the very best my body can offer.
- there’s something wonderful about breastfeeding that cannot be fully explained. It makes me proud knowing that my body has nourished and sustained my babies outside the womb. And it, once again, leaves me in awe of the female body.
Because much of my breastfeeding success is due to the many very helpful breastfeeding resources available, I wanted to share with you those to which I turned often, in hopes of them being helpful to you as well.
Lisa Ross Birth and Women’s Center (through their lactation consultants, you can gain access to their Facebook breastfeeding support group)
How has your breastfeeding relationship(s) been? Did you struggle too? What did you find to be most helpful in overcoming any challenges?