Breastfeeding: Nature’s Food

July 30, 2018, Shirley Blake

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week.

I did not ever think I would publicly write about breastfeeding but here it is folks! I grew up in a very conservative family and talking about my body was not common. When I was pregnant with my Karson, I felt like my body had no privacy. I had many doctor appointments concerning my physical and emotional well-being. It was an extreme adjustment for me to have that much care and concern.

When my doctors and midwives asked me about breastfeeding, I said of course. Karson was born, and I breastfed him. It was a lot more challenging than I expected. I thought it was going to be easy and natural. It is natural, but it was not easy. I did not know your milk supply came a few days after having a baby, and Karson was a very hungry baby. I read many books about pregnancy, but there was not much information about the reality of breastfeeding. It was painful to have a strong-suckling baby attached to you many hours of the day. It was overwhelming trying to figure out how to care for the baby while being exhausted, let alone learning the cradle, rugby, or lying hold. There are so many ways to do things, and I just wanted to do everything perfectly.

I remember running to Target to purchase a manual breast pump, manually pumping milk while reading many online articles, and thinking to myself how alien my body felt to me. At the time, insurance companies did not cover breast pumps, and I was returning to work after about 4 months of being at home. I had a great mom friend named Ashley who gave me Fenugreek and lent me her breast pump. Upon returning to work, I had the breast pump ready to go, and I tried my best to pump and keep my supply. My place of employment at the time did not have a private room to pump. I was thankful that the bathroom had an outlet, and in between helping clients I would try to hurry to the bathroom to pump. Many times, it was unsuccessful as my ten-minute breaks were not long enough to set up, pump 6 ounces of golden liquid, and clean up. Sometimes the single use bathroom was occupied, so my opportunity to pump was lost.

 

After a week at work, I stopped pumping/breastfeeding altogether. I felt like I failed. Everyone had an opinion about my body and my breastfeeding. My dad told me to eat more oatmeal. My mom reminded me that she breastfed all four of us (her children). My husband was a die-hard about breastfeeding. Every time someone asked me if I was breastfeeding, I could feel my face turn red because I wanted to, but I just could not. Soon thereafter my milk supply diminished.

When my second son was born, I was better prepared. My goal was to breastfeed exclusively for 9 months. I kept doing research to establish a good milk supply. I wanted to pump extra milk for when I returned to work. I took Fenugreek and a lactation tincture I purchased at Market of Choice. To make it “fun,” I also made lactation cookies. I also had two great friends that had babies around the same time as I did, Monica and  MacKenzie, so I had them for support. We would talk about how hungry and thirsty we were from the energy it took to breastfeed. Monica and I shared our breastfeeding goals with each other and held each other accountable.

When I was breastfeeding Samuel, my health insurance covered my breast pump, and I had a Health Savings Account to purchase milk storage bags, coolers/ice packs, and extra bottles. I had an office that I shared with another woman; she had two kids and understood motherhood.  I had many meetings to attend, so I would pump in the car, bathrooms, private offices, etc. I created a milk stash in my freezer that lasted until Samuel was 9 months. Eventually, I stopped pumping at work and would only breastfeed Samuel when I was at home. My body adjusted supply to Samuel’s need and my breast pump. It was pretty neat and magical. I stopped breastfeeding Samuel at 18 months. My back was so relieved, and I felt so good about surpassing my goal. Sharing your body is part of the process, and it feels so good when you have done your share and have concluded the time.

Looking back, I can honestly say I love breastfeeding. The bond and effort is worth it. Breastfeeding created a time for relaxation as my little one ate. It is also very empowering; I could say I sometimes felt like superwoman. No one could feed my baby expect for me; get out of the way, people; baby wants mom and only mom (insert smile)!

My advice is to be clear on what you want. Let the people around you know how they can support you. Do your research and do not give up. Find other local moms or online who are in the same stage in life.  The most important piece of advice is to truly respect this time in yours and your child’s life. Sometimes you cannot do all of the things that you want to do. I remember just wanting to clean (I am a neat freak), and I couldn’t. It was time for me to sit in my chair with my baby to feed him. I would use that time to sit back, relax, drink lots of water, and be in thought.

Enjoy the process and be gracious towards yourself.

 

Professional photograph  (first image) by Sheri Hubbs Photography – Oregon Child Photographer