I never thought I would be here. I think life is funny like that. Rarely do we end up in the places we think we are going to go. It’s been about a month since I last breastfed, part of me is sad and part of me is amazed at the power breastfeeding held. I didn’t have to do much to get her calmed down or to sleep when I was able to offer her my breast.
She was the first and only child out of my 3 I had exclusively breastfed for any amount of time. For 3 months, I was her entire source of food. And for the following 5 months I was still breastfeeding the majority of the time until I slowly just nursed her at night. Once I started solids and she began to get tooth after tooth, her interest in nursing dwindled. Partially because I was terrified at getting bit again and offered to nurse her less and less. This was the baby I was in tears at the hospital trying to nurse her because it hurt so much.I swore I would just give her a bottle because I couldn’t handle the pain another minute. Yet.. I pressed on through the pain and tears because I wanted to do the right thing for her and if I’m being transparent, she refused almost every bottle we tried. Thank goodness for buying the munchkin latch bottle on a whim. She didn’t give up even when I wanted to and for that I’m thankful. We lasted over 8 months. I tried breastfeeding each of my children but was most successful with her.
With my first, J, I went in with a open mind but due to trying to pump after each feed and feeling like I wasn’t feeding her enough I started supplementing after a week. I didn’t have near the support with breast feeding as I did with K. Some time in the 8 years between the my oldest and youngest support for breastfeeding in and out of the public eye has exploded. Whether it is a Facebook group of moms who can offer advice on getting through those painful first weeks of breastfeeding or Media coverage that reminds us of the many laws that protect breastfeeding mothers.
I would feel uncomfortable every time I went to feed J and we had company because I still thought of my breasts in a very sexualized way. I would hole myself up in a room anytime she needed to eat. It worked for the first few days home until my father in law came into the room to see the baby while I was still breastfeeding. With the doctors recommending formula to help with jaundice and a general feeling of uneasiness while nursing. J was formula fed exclusively from 8 weeks on.
With L I wanted to try again and I did. We moved across country and I breastfed him as much as I could but still very apprehensive about feeding him in front of others, trying to breastfed exclusively while leaving the room wasn’t sustainable. I even spent time trapped in a restaurant bathroom feeding L while my food got cold. I was too nervous to attempt feeding a newborn in front of anyone who hadn’t seen my breast before.Despite that I was able to last for 5 months of breastfeeding and formula combined.
Fast forward to 2016 and now that there was more openness about breastfeeding in public and knowing your rights. I was able to break free from the stigma I had placed onto myself and began to see my breasts as dual purpose. I felt empowered by women who didn’t care if they were “caught” breastfeeding because feeding a child is the most important part. I went from only being able to nurse inside of my bedroom to nursing while shopping around Target. My body provided nourishment and allowed my children to thrive even if some of that time was shorter than others. K is my last and most likely final baby due to tubal ligation. It’s bitter sweet to know that this journey has come to an end.
Sometimes I feel that we are so concerned with our personal “comfort levels” that we forget that babies need to eat no matter whether that is Breast, Formula. Donor’s milk. Whatever is right for the parents and the child.
This is my personal story of how my attitudes towards breastfeeding changed the more informed I was.
If you are planning on breastfeeding or even want to give it a try then become informed about your rights. Do you know your state and federal regulations that protect a breastfeeding mother?