I’m currently a mother of two little boys under the age of two. As if that weren’t enough of an adventure, I also decided that I wanted to take on breastfeeding with my second. I would like to mention that I was THAT naive mother that never took any breastfeeding classes, never talked to a lactation consultant outside of the hospital, and assumed my maternal instinct would just takeover and the magic of boob nourishment would just happen. NEWS FLASH: I was wrong! Just because it’s “natural”...does NOT mean it’s easy. I supplemented coming home from the hospital due to jaundice levels (nothing serious), but also because I hadn’t fully convinced myself that breastfeeding was something I wanted to do. My first baby was formula fed, so I knew what the “other end” of the feeding spectrum looked like. During the first few days of waiting for my milk to come in, I felt comfort in knowing I could easily make a bottle and everything would be fine. AND THEN IT HAPPENED...my milk arrived, my boobs grew twice their size, my shirt was constantly covered in milk stains, and it seemed like my baby was ALWAYS attached to my boob.
After about two weeks of fumbling with bruised nipples, warm/cold compresses, pumping, nursing, latch trial and error, and a bottomless pit of an infant, I decided it was time to ASK FOR HELP. I made a plea for help through my IG stories and within an hour, had over 30 MESSAGES from moms offering advice and product recommendations! I immediately felt encouraged and wanted to continue to fight through the first stage of breastfeeding. While I continued practicing the art of breastfeeding, I did supplement one bottle a day. I did this to ensure he was getting SOMETHING since nursing him didn’t give much detail as to how much he was consuming! For that first month, my nipples hurt, I found out my baby had a lip tie, and I (like most mothers) had to constantly remind myself to drink enough water! LOL...I was a hot mess: walking around in my fiancé’s boxers, no bra, with a baby in one hand, and a lactation bar in the other. I was CONSTANTLY washing those dang pieces to my breast pump and I hate washing dishes.
After that first month, I decided to GO OUTSIDE. I packed the boys up and ventured out of the house to run errands. This was the first time I would have to potentially feed my baby in public. I will never forget the turning point of my breastfeeding journey...I was grocery shopping with both my boys and OF COURSE right in the middle of our trip the baby starts screaming of hunger. I had no pumped bottle, my nursing cover was in the car, my cart was half full of groceries, and as I stood in the middle of the toothpaste aisle full of nerves and confusion, I made a choice. I whipped my boob out and fed my baby. I have never felt more powerful! My baby needed me; he needed my body. As I fed my baby, picked out the toothpaste I needed, and continued our shopping trip...that was the moment I knew: I AM CAPABLE! I can do this. I CAN do this!
After that I stopped giving him formula. I realized I was using formula as a safety net, and was therefore dependent on it. For every bottle I gave him, I was taking away from what my body was already going to give him whether I saw it or not. My baby boy is now 3.5 months old and while that isn’t a very long time, I am so proud of myself! The temptation of being able to just made a formula bottle and “keep it moving” still exists, but as I see my baby grow because of the nourishment I am able to provide, I continue!
I had a miscarriage before giving birth to my first son. His birth felt like an accomplishment that my body WAS CAPABLE of creating and giving birth to a baby. With my first I put breastfeeding on the back burner because him being earth side was more important to me. When I found out I was pregnant with my second I felt confident in my body’s ability to create life, so I could put my energy into the next step: breastfeeding! I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I keep breastfeeding, and the only real reason I continue is to prove to myself that I CAN. It’s also more convenient financially, if we are being honest.
This has been such a crazy, incredible, cool, confusing adventure and I am excited to see where it takes us...and for how long. If I could offer any advice to mothers who are new to breastfeeding, it would be this:
“YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Ask for help. Surround yourself with PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND. You are capable, but even more than that...YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE. Even if your breastfeeding journey only lasts a week, be proud of yourself! Breastfeeding is not for everyone, but eating is. As long as you love and care for your baby, how they are nourished becomes secondary...you are still an amazing mother and powerful woman!”
-Lauren Miller, @inthemuddleofmitchells