Welcome back to the #BreastfeedingStories guest post series, an opportunity to bring together breastfeeding stories and experiences from other mums.
This breastfeeding guest post features Jenny from MomLovesBest.com who shares her view of the highs and lows of breastfeeding. A hugely relatable and reassuring post for anyone that has breastfed, tried breastfeeding or is considering breastfeeding in the future.
Tales from the Trenches: The Highs and Lows of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding may be the best and most natural way to feed your baby, but for something so seemingly straightforward and simple, it sure is difficult at times. Unless you’re a mum, here are a few things about breastfeeding that you’ll never understand.
It’s Always You
You’re the one with breasts, so when push comes to shove, you’re always going to be the one doing all the work. Whether it’s getting up every two to three hours in the middle of the night, or sneaking off for a quick breast pumping break at the workplace, it all falls on your shoulders.
It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, sick or just wanting a few quiet minutes to yourself, you are like a fast food restaurant that’s always got to be open. That can wear on you after a while, and no one will understand the burden you are under and the sacrifices you make, except other mums.
Perfecting the Latch
Women who breastfeed live in fear of their baby’s latch. If the baby can’t find the correct latch, he won’t get enough milk, and the wrong latch can be incredibly painful for mums. That’s something men don’t understand – until your nipple has been treated like a dog’s chew toy, you can’t understand why some women are hesitant to breastfeed.
And when our babies do finally find the right latch, you’ll see us celebrating like we’ve just scored a touchdown in a championship game.
Seriously, when my baby finally perfected her latch, I felt like there should be a lot of fanfare and that someone should have been uncorking a bottle of champagne to toast my success. In reality, no one other than my baby and I even noticed. The only ones who understood how happy I was were my mum friends.
The Mommy Wars
If you’ve made the decision to breastfeed, that’s great. You’re doing everything you can to give your baby a healthy start. But that doesn’t give you the right to judge other mums who have opted to give their babies formula instead, or who can’t breastfeed because of medical reasons.
One of the greatest breastfeeding struggles is justifying our choices to others and the social stigma that can come with whatever feeding choice you make. As a mum, everyone feels the need to comment on your choices – your relatives, friends, co-workers and even total strangers who may not be comfortable with you breastfeeding in public.
As mums, we should be supporting each other – not tearing each other down. We should lean on each other, not judge another mum when we don’t know what struggles she faces.
The Need For Regular Feedings or Pumpings
Pop quiz time: It’s been a few hours since your baby last nursed and she’s sleeping like she’s never slept before. You might actually get a full night of sleep. But should you?
Oh, it’s tempting to just stay in bed, sleeping like normal people get to. But you know if you skip a pumping session, you could be in trouble. Your engorged boobs will painfully burn until you drain them, and you’ll start to worry that your milk supply will begin to dry up because you aren’t expressing enough. So the answer is this: Just get out of bed and do your pumping duty. You won’t get a full night of sleep anyway if you stay in bed because you’ll be second guessing yourself all night.
You Are Supporting a Life
As difficult and overwhelming as breastfeeding can feel sometimes, you still get caught up occasionally in the wonder of what you’re doing. Your body makes everything your baby needs. You get to be the one your baby turns to when she’s hungry – yes, it’s a responsibility, but it’s also a great privilege.
It Isn’t Easy But It’s Important
There are going to be times you feel overwhelmed with what’s on your daily to-do list. Breastfeeding can feel like a part-time job at times.
Just remember it won’t last forever and that you aren’t alone. Millions of women have breastfed their babies. They’ve felt everything you have, the struggles, the triumphs and the sacrifices. While you may be alone with the workload you’re carrying; you aren’t alone in spirit.
And for the really difficult days, remember the moments of victory, like when your baby first perfected her latch. Watch as your baby grows and thrives from the milk that you’re providing her with. Every ounce your baby puts on is proof that all your effort and the moments, both good and bad are worth it.
Jenny Silverstone is just another mom trying to do her best. She is a breastfeeding advocate, loves making lists and helping others find what they’re looking for. You can find her sharing her sharing parenting hacks & tips on MomLovesBest.com and Pinterest.
If you’ve got a breastfeeding story you would like to share as part of the series please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter. I’d love to help you share your#BreastfeedingStories.