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Instead of doing my regular evaluation for Baby’s 8th month here earthside, it seems more apt to talk about our breastfeeding journey thus far. I’ve discussed my one experience with a clogged milk duct and other breastfeeding tips that I use.
What I haven’t talked about in-depth or in any real way is how breastfeeding affects me as a person, the way we manage regular life tasks (eating out, shopping, etc.), the way I parent, or my evolution as a breastfeeding mother. This is the post that will cover all these things. Hopefully, whether you’re considering breastfeeding, haven’t breastfed, want to breastfeed, are in the midst of breastfeeding, or simply wonder what breastfeeding is really like, this post will help.
The truth is, I’ve had ups and downs. For a period of time I thought my downs weren’t going to end.
I’ve even had fleeting moments of joy. Not the righteous or proud kind of joy, but pure joy and happiness.
Initially breastfeeding was awesome and amazing and wonderful. Baby’s first latch outside of our birthing center filled me with such joy that I cried.
I cried because it was awesome and amazing and wonderful.
I cried because I’d had to wait 24 hours after his birth and that very first latch to feed him again.
I cried because both he and I were doing another one of the most difficult, yet most fulfilling and fascinating aspects of life. I was feeding my child, straight from my body, providing him with nutrition to help him grow.
It was another accomplishment and we were doing it together; Baby and I with Hun cheering us along.
I had to be more still than not. I was tied to sitting in one position, or constantly having to ensure I wasn’t bonking Baby’s head against anything, or being hot and sweaty and exhausted and hungry all at once.
It was hard because I am an overachiever. I am a perfectionist. I have difficulty not multitasking. And, frankly, I don’t like feeling stuck. But, doing things while holding Baby (even wearing Baby) wasn’t as easy as I’d expected it to be.
[I also want to note that I believe I had some unrecognized and untreated post-partum depression going on there for awhile (more on that another time).]
Then, things started getting easier and more manageable.
I started feeling better.
I stopped fretting so much over getting everything done.
I started to stop to enjoy the moments with Baby in my arms, being nourished while also loving on him.
I started to slow down and notice how my rushed feelings were translating to Baby.
I started to ease into motherhood.
This isn’t to say I didn’t have any moments beforehand. What I am pointing out though, is that there was a definite contrast that occurred, around the 4th and 5th months.
By then, I had the swing of things when it came to breastfeeding. I felt armed with experience more than simply information. Don’t get me wrong, the information I’d garnered was definitely helpful. The support Hun provided, to the best of his ability, got me through rough spots.
The biggest difference (other than some post-partum depression), was this flipping of a switch somewhere between feeling more confidence as a mother and having more confidence in my ability to breastfeed.
Now, this isn’t to say that without breastfeeding I wouldn’t have had struggles in figuring out baby care and transforming myself into full-on mother. Furthermore, although breastfeeding is a big part of my mothering, there are other just as important big parts of mothering that occur those first few months.
By far, the first 3 months were so far beyond difficult, I’m not sure I have words for them. Nonetheless, we made it. More importantly, I made it – in tact, with more confidence, more insight, and with breastfeeding experience to draw from.
Now, not being one to care so much about other people’s opinions or views on me as a person (so long as they keep them to themselves), I’ve breastfed in public from the beginning. Everyone that worked with us during that first week likely saw my full breast on more than one occasion.
Even after getting home, I breastfed in restaurants all the time.
I used to be more cognizant of ensuring I had a wrap or blanket to cover, but not any longer. I realized over time that having the wrap or a blanket were much more cumbersome, than simply unlatching my brassier, pulling up my shirt, and letting Baby latch. (Sometimes, these days Baby pulls off and looks around, but overall I tend to keep him somewhat subdued while nursing in public.)
And, thankfully, with Hun fully supportive of breastfeeding and knowing he’ll back me up if we encounter any nay-sayers, I just feed my child. End of discussion.
Truthfully, I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had no direct or indirect encounters with anyone regarding public breastfeeding. I have run through scenarios in my mind and discussed different possibilities with Hun on numerous occasions, such that I do feel (fairly) certain that I can counteract nay-sayers without starting an argument. Being one to provide information with confidence to begin with and my apparent ability to be publicly tactful, I know more likely than not, my response will come from one or both of those places.
Furthermore, since I strongly believe that breastfeeding doesn’t get enough real, honest, true support out in the world, I would aim to help make more support a reality.
Now that I have so much more confidence in myself, than I did, when it comes to motherhood and breastfeeding I don’t even think about signing or speaking “milk”, unlatching my brassier, pulling up my shirt, and letting Baby latch.
Besides, sometimes I can even get out of other “womanly” tasks others may think I need to be participating in (not that I regularly do this, though I do notice when it happens).
Out of all of this, my biggest piece of advice concerning breastfeeding is this:
If you breastfeed/fed, how did you cope those first few months? What, if any advice do you have to offer other breastfeeding families?