Cherish and enjoy the breastfeeding journey
by Elaine from Michigan
If you had asked me 10 years ago if I saw myself breastfeeding, the answer surely would have been no. Yet, here I am picking my shirts out for the day based on how easily I can nurse my little one. Has it always been easy? Absolutely not. No one tells you about the frequent night feeds, the mastitis (breast inflammation), the dairy intolerance that a small percentage of babies have (that means no more ice cream for mom), among many other things. Although these are all very important things to know about prior to starting your breastfeeding journey, there are a few things that I learned the hard way.
1. Your worth is NOT measured in ounces.
I spent the first year of my nursing journey terrified that I wasn't producing enough, that I wasn’t pumping enough. I was constantly measuring storage bag after storage bag of breast milk. I worried so much that I forgot sometimes that it wasn't the ounces that defined me. Not only was Baby boy always fed, but he loved his mama no matter how many ounces she put in that bag. The same goes for you.
2. The journey is yours, NOT everyone else's.
Everyone is going to have an opinion as to how long you should breastfeed, where you should breastfeed and when you should breastfeed. It's important to always remember that this journey is yours and your little one’s, no one else's. Enjoy it the way that works best for you. If you can only make it 6 months, that's fine. Want to go a year? Wonderful. 2 years? Good for you! It's your body; listen to it and be kind to it.
3. Your bond is for a lifetime.
There were so many nights spent wondering if I could make it another night. Would this round of mastitis be the one to end our journey? When will I get to have my body back? Yes, all of these things are valid. The amount of work and sacrifice that goes into breastfeeding is tremendous, but the bond you're forming with your little one is unlike anything else you'll ever experience. You're giving them everything they need to survive, right from your own body. It's beautiful and miraculous, and the bond you two form will well surpass the years of breastfeeding. It's for a lifetime.
The day will come where you no longer have to base your wardrobe on how easy it is to breastfeed, your body (and your bed) will be all yours, and you'll sleep soundly again. But right now, in this very moment, you're everything they want and need. Cherish it and enjoy the journey.
This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Elaine.
My name is Elaine and I'm a stay-at-home mom of 2. I have a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old. I have been on my own breastfeeding journey for 28 months and have learned and grown so much from it. The kids and I love anything outdoors - bike rides, walks, the sandbox and the beach! Taking every day as a new adventure.
Want more information on breast or chestfeeding? wichealth.org has a free online lesson called Feeding Your Newborn. Find it on wichealth.org in the Infants category!