I wanted to write a reflection on my breastfeeding journey, as well as my six months of motherhood. It’s been a point of major struggle, pride, exhaustion and happiness. I want to write this for myself, but for other mothers of who may share some of my experiences. Hopefully some things I’ve found helpful will be helpful for other mothers as well.
For my non-mommy friends who are reading – trust me… this post might bore you.
From the moment we found out I was pregnant, breast feeding was the plan. My husband was completely supportive of my choice to breast feed. And it is because I am committed to all of the amazing health benefits breastfeeding provides – immunity and antibodies, simpler digestion, less ear infections and lower risks of diseases like leukemia and diabetes. All of these benefits are true (and have really been the main reasons I am still hanging in here),and also, the money you’re going to spend on buying formula can be saved for something more important a.k.a. Haydee’s future. And since I was a bit fat and need to lose my pregnancy weight, breastfeeding (so I heard) will help me with the weight loss.
As a child, I was fed formula exclusively from birth – as was my brother, my cousins, my husband and his siblings. I was lucky that I felt no family pressures to breastfeed but in the same right, some of my family was a little apprehensive that this would work as they knew so many women struggle. I was committed – and when I’m committed, there is little that can sway me from that path.
Right after Haydee was born I was very adamant about getting at least 30 minutes of skin to skin within her first hour and breastfeeding the majority of that time as I read that that is when the babies are most awake and alert! To my surprise and the midwife/nurse as well, Haydee latched perfectly and started guzzling away. It was a beautiful sight! Every nurse that came and checked on us in our time in the hospital said something about how good she was nursing! This made this new paranoid mama super happy and proud.
But even if Haydee’s latch was perfect, my nipples still hurt like HELLLLL! Whoever said it only hurts if you’re doing it wrong is WRONG! I remember nursing on the couch, gritting my teeth and holding my breath when I would latch Haydee.I would wiggle my toes to get through those first few seconds of suckling, and then the pain would slowly dissipate. I didn’t want to put a shirt or bra back on in between nursing sessions because my nipples felt like they were on fire.Eventually, the pain does go away all together, and nursing, for us, did turn into a beautiful, calm experience. I don’t remember when that exactly happened (after the first two weeks maybe?), but one day you realize, “hey! This doesn’t hurt anymore!”.
Breastfeeding is hard. And painful! At least at the beginning, anyway.Everything the books and learning materials tell you about breastfeeding is wrong! Your baby isn’t born and just naturally latches and nurses away and all is right with the world. I mean, I had an idea of what I was supposed to do, but it’s not like I had any experience with it. And add to that, extreme exhaustion, pain from childbirth, a revolving door of visitors, and a feeling of “what the hell am I doing?!”, breastfeeding was very overwhelming in those early hours and days.
Luckily, we did get the hang of it quite easily. What prepared me with this journey, I guess, is the RIGHT ATTITUDE. Because of my preparation, I knew that these were issues that I could overcome. I was not the only breastfeeding mom who faced the problems. Women had been breastfeeding for years. I took this upon me as a challenge – something that I should resolve – something that should not defeat me.
Okay, so it has been 6 months already. Looking back, I do not know how I got passed it. I was scared and always worrying that something bad will happen, specially at Haydee’s first 3 months. But very slowly and with every new day, I started to regain my strength and it became easier for me, Dennis and for Haydee also as we all start to adjust to our new situation and get to know each other better.
A couple of weeks or so later after childbirth, when I feel like I am a little bit in control over things again, I finally was able to confess to myself and Dennis that I am in love. Haydee’s screaming/cranky episode sometimes no longer bothers me or maybe because I got used to it that it doesn’t make my brain go blank anymore. Somehow, her episodes decreases as time goes by (probably also because we know a little bit on what to do now).
When Haydee was 4 months already, things started to change.. She becomes more interactive and playful and more beautiful than ever.. And then it becomes fun to be a mother.
Now that Haydee is officially 6 months, it’s time to mix breast milk with a bit of solid food. I have been very firm with my decision not to give anything to Haydee except breast milk until she’s 6 months already (no water, solid food, etc.). And again, Dennis was very supportive of my decision. He knows that I only want nothing but the best for our first born. It cannot be stressed enough that breast milk is a whole, complete and perfect food source for the full term, healthy breastfed baby until at least the age of six months. I mean, come on, she will have all her life to eat everything she wants when she grows up. Plus, the WHO and UNICEF suggested to start giving solids to babies until they reached their 6th month, so there’s no harm in practicing it, right?
Anyway, Haydee’s first meal is Pumpkin with breastmilk.
Starting solids is an exciting milestone which must not be rashed. I am happy that I had a camera at hand and was able to take pictures of Haydee like this because someday, my memory will not be that reliable anymore.