I promise this is not a controversial post… although I have to admit, sometimes it seems as though every aspecting of parenting these days can become a cause for conflict. But – that’s another post, for another day. Today, I want to talk about breastfeeding.
I chose, and was able, to breastfeed my babies. For me, breastfeeding was the best choice because I wanted to do it, and for the most part I didn’t have difficulty with it. My babies learned to latch quickly and effectively, and outside of the initial discomfort and pain, within about 10 days, my babies and I had figured out what to do, and had gotten ourselves into a good rhythm and feeding schedule (with the exception of Molly, who was jaundiced, and took a little longer).
I know this isn’t the experience for so many mamas, and I wish people were more understanding about the many difficulties that can be associated with breastfeeding. I remember, when I was about 8.5 months pregnant with Isla (my firstborn), a good friend of mine (who was also expecting) and I went to a “breastfeeding clinic” to get some tips before our babes were born. At the time I was looking for actual tips and advice on how to breastfeed – and what to do if it wasn’t easy.
Unfortunately what we got was basically a “Breast-is-Best” ideological lecture, and I can’t imagine how guilty I would have felt as a mama if I hadn’t been able to breastfeed after sitting through that session. Not to mention the fact that they made it sound so easy – “Baby knows what to do”… “Babies often crawl to their mothers breasts immediately after birth”… “It’s mildly uncomfortable, but you will adjust quickly”, etc.
Here’s the thing. While all of this might be true for SOME people, it’s certainly not true for ALL people. Not every baby is able to do it naturally (ie: tongue-tied babies really struggle to latch); not every baby is going to naturally crawl to your breast (birth is exhausting); and frankly, it’s not just “mildly” uncomfortable… it’s really painful, messy, and awkward! Additionally, not everyone is able to fall into a neat schedule right away, as I learned with my daughter Molly, who was jaundiced and kept falling asleep during feeds.
So – despite the fact that I didn’t have a lot of challenges breastfeeding, especially compared to some mamas, even I recognize that it isn’t a seamless a process. I’m sure there are mamas out there who DID have the ideal breastfeeding experience … but frankly, I haven’t met them.
I have, however, met a lot of mamas who struggled to some degree to breastfeed initially; who did everything they could to do what they thought was best for their baby, and ultimately decided that a fed baby was actually the best scenario for everyone. Whether it was achieved through breastfeeding or not.
For me, I’m so glad I was able to breastfeed my babies. I’m so glad it came relatively easily, and that I was able to share those sweet moments of bonding with my babies. Even though it isn’t always the most convenient to be tied to a little one, this time in life, when our children depend on us so fully, is truly so fleeting.
For me, breastfeeding has become a time of quiet. A time when I put my phone away, set aside the business of the day, and for a few moments, just enjoy the sweetness of my baby. The way her hair swoops across her forehead, the roundness of her rosy cheeks, the way she stops eating every now and then to grin up at me before remembering she’s still hungry and going back for more.
For me, breastfeeding has become a special time to savour the moment and the bond I share, and have shared, with each of my children. To just enjoy them.
As a working mama, I know the time is nearing when I’ll have to start weaning Molly. Not because I’m desperate to be done, but so she’ll be ok; so that her transition to daycare will be a smooth one. I have to admit, I’m hanging onto these moments with Molly more tightly than with my other two, because as this phase of babyhood passes… I recognize that so does this phase of motherhood.
I’m so glad I was able to do this incredible thing; this thing that so many others aren’t able to do, but wish they could. I feel blessed for the experience it has been for me personally, in my journey as a mama.
And I hope as mamas, we slow down every now and then, and take the time to truly savour and record moments of sweetness with our babies and children – whether we breastfeed them or not.
“Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful, but because they are fleeting.” Richard Paul Evans
(Top two photos by Kira Nelson Photography)