Symphony has officially stopped breastfeeding. Its been a little over a month and I wish I can say I'm excited like I thought I would be. To be honest it’s kind of bittersweet and a little more bitter than sweet. Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood to me. And although it’s not always easy it’s always worth it. Don’t get me wrong there were times when breastfeeding an infant into toddler age can be overwhelming. For 2 1/2 years I willingly and lovingly gave so much of my time, my energy, my entire body to nourish and bond with her (with both of my children actually) and it was draining at times. I’d convince myself on many occasions I was tired of breastfeeding because it was too much and I felt like it was taking over my life. However holding my babies in my arms having them stare at me with so much love and knowing I gave them so much comfort meant the world to me and it superseded any discomfort I may have had. Now that I’m no longer breastfeeding I'm working overtime to fill the void with extra hugs, kisses and cuddle time. I feel like Symphony is working hard to keep that bond too. Every moment she gets she buries her head in my breast and just looks at me with the sweetest face. I guess this is her way of breastfeeding without actually breastfeeding. I know these days are numbered but I'm going to hold to them as long as can.
Why I decided to breast feed in the first place?
I was a mom to be with my first son and of course you do a ton of research about what to expect and how you need to prepare for becoming a new mom. I began to learn about breastfeeding and all of the wonderful benefits. I talked to my grandmother about it who also encouraged me to breastfeed and my mom as well. What really resonated with me was knowing I can provide for my baby all the nourishment he needed to stay healthy by breastfeeding. That concept is mind blowing if you think about it. Our bodies are designed to nourish our babies (in most cases) without anything else added, no formula, milk, nothing just you. And what you have is better than anything that can be sold. The inspirational saying "You are enough" just rings all kinds of bells when I think about breastfeeding my babies and how powerful it is to know that and experience that. So here this little human being comes into the world and I'm ready to breastfeed! But of course it did not go down like that. Breastfeeding was painful (at first) I didn't realize or read that it would be this painful. Something had to give! The lactation consultant from the hospital visited my room and she gave me some pointers on latching on and the proper way to get a good latch but to no avail. That didn't stop me! I was in it now and I knew there had to be a better way. I read the information she gave me to take home and it mentioned if you're in need of help to visit your local lactation consultant. I didn't even know that such a thing existed but they do (so Mamas who are struggling I feel your pain but don't give up, exhaust all options, its worth it). There is a fee and a sliding scale fee that goes according to your income and depending on your income you pay little to nothing if anything at all. So I get to this lactation consultant and when I tell you it was the best thing I could have ever done, I mean it. She used her own hands to show me how to fix my nipple to get a good latch. She was warm, encouraging and understanding. After that visit all was right in the world of breastfeeding. I breastfed my son for over two years after that and seven years later (yes I started over again with Symphony) I went on to breastfeed Symphony for over two and half years all from that one visit with the lactation consultant. I know every mom is not going to be able to breastfeed for over two years or even want to for that matter. But I feel its my duty to encourage the Mamas out there to at least try for as long as you can, if you can. I know its difficult, I know only one boob has milk in it, I know its painful, I know you're tired, I know you are stressed and want a glass of wine or shot of tequila (that one right there is not a good enough reason but some of you feel that way whether you say it or not), I know its not in you but find it within you anyway, I know you have to work (no employer can stop you from pumping milk unless they want a hell of a lawsuit on there hands), I know the baby fusses because they're greedy (you may have to supplement at times but don't stop breastfeeding), I know you're producing very little to no milk ;but try to exhaust all options before you make the decision to feed your baby formula. And if you have to make that decision please decide on giving your baby the best organic formula on the market and from what I understand it's Holle. Holle is manufactured in Europe and unlike most American manufactured formulas, Holle has no additives and does not contain any genetically modified or synthetically derived ingredients. There are others on the market that are organic, but Holle is known to be the best. I know breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic and my heart goes out to the Mamas out there who would do anything to be to able breastfeed their babies and they can not. For those of us that can and have breastfed try to encourage Mamas who are discouraged or experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding. I know we all do the best we can.
Benefits of Breastfeeding.... Plethora
By now I'm sure you're over my antics on breastfeeding I get it. However let me just share a few of the benefits you and your baby will receive from breastfeeding
You will/can lose an significant amount of weight from breastfeeding because you burn extra calories. With my son my pre-baby wait was 152, right before I gave birth to him I was 185. After giving birth I went down to 162. In less than six months of breastfeeding I was down to 136. If that's not convincing then I don't know what is! Did I mention it shrinks your stomach too within the first weeks after giving birth. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps shrink your uterus to its normal size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Benefits for your baby:
Your breast milk provides all the nutrition your baby needs
It's easier to digest than formula
Contains antibodies that helps fight off viruses and bacteria
Lowers the risk of your baby having asthma or allergies
Your baby will have less ear infections
Your baby will have less respiratory illnesses
It reduces the risk of SIDS, diabetes and obesity.
It's also recommended that babies are solely breastfed the first 6 months to achieve the maximum results. It's especially important for black moms to breastfeed because although the percentage rate of black moms have improved over the the last decade, we still have the lowest numbers of moms who choose to breastfeed their babies and that needs to change.
I don't have all the answers but I do have five years of experience with breastfeeding and so I have a few pointers that may help some mamas get through breastfeeding and stay with it for at least six months.
A healthy diet is key, fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. My personal favorite foods when breastfeeding are oatmeal, beans, wild rice and smoothies. All are fulfilling and nutritious.
Drink plenty of water. And then drink some more water.
Plenty of rest is essential for breastfeeding.
Invest in a quality breast pump. I used Medela
If you know you have to go back to work soon start pumping as early as possible and freeze your breastmilk. And come up with a system that works for you and your baby while pumping. There first few weeks I pump an hour after each time I nursed my daughter. That helped a lot with having somewhat of a constant flow of breastmilk and storing/freezing milk.
Find a breastfeeding support group most hospital have them as well or start your own.
Purchase a bobby pillow.
Find a comfortable spot in your home where you can relax while breastfeeding.
Visit a lactation consultant if you are having difficulty breastfeeding visit ilca.org
Don't let anyone discourage you from breastfeeding or breastfeeding in public. It is the most natural and beautiful things between a mother and child. Our breast do not naturally produce nutritious milk for or our babies for breastfeeding to be stigmatized.
Most importantly be patient with yourself. Breastfeeding is not always easy and not every mom is able to breastfeed there babies for numerous reason. Don't beat yourself up if you can't. The most important thing is your baby is healthy and loved.
P.S. How funny is this: While I'm finishing up this blog, Symphony relapsed and asked to nurse! cthu These boobs are for cuddling now (and other things ; )) there's nothing in here for her.