While I sit back and do nothing but enjoy the eight-days-old babe currently snoozing on my chest, I’ve arranged some guest posts for you to enjoy here on the blog. (And yes, I’m nearly done writing my birth story… I’ve been somewhat unmotivated due to this being my third babe and knowing exactly how quickly these first days fly by. Needless to say, I’ve been savouring the moments and enjoying the babymooning).
Today I am honoured to host the first part of this three-part guest series from Naomi – one of very best friends in the world. She’s a mama to a darling boy that I have not met nearly often enough due to there being over two thousand miles between us. Her breastfeeding story is inspiring and encouraging. Please join me in welcoming her to Red & Honey!
Most natural mamas I’ve met acknowledge that breast is best; however, very few of these mamas have had a trouble free breastfeeding experience. Everyone has had to fight some kind of breastfeeding battle.
Beth has to kindly allowed me to share with you my advice and my story to you her readers while she takes her ‘baby moon’ and basks in the glow of post birth love hormones with her new babe. (Hope you are enjoying those newborn snuggles!)
Firstly, my breastfeeding advice to any parent is sweet and simple.
1 – Get Educated: Learn all you can. Learn why breast is best, and especially why formula is not. Learn about the complications that can occur with breastfeeding. Learn about remedies for issues and where to buy them. Learn about latching techniques and how to stop troubles. Do not be content to trust others, even if they are lactation consultants or doctors with the best intentions. Educating yourself will allow you to make the best decisions BEFORE you are faced with complications and feel tried, frustrated and are particularly vulnerable to bad advice or suggestions. It is also important that your partner educate himself as well, as he will need to support your decisions and help you.
2 – Find Support: Find other breastfeeding mamas in your community. Join a La Leche League group or another breastfeeding support group. Find post partum doulas who can help, they are worth every penny. Know the different lactation consultants in your area and choose which one you would visit BEFORE babe is born. Take a pre-natal breastfeeding class. Make sure your partner is committed to your breastfeeding, he will be your biggest help. Also, be aware of online breastfeeding help like the Newman Clinic (located in Toronto) which has many resources on their website.
Finally, read or listen to stories like mine (below): stories that will encourage you and remind you that you are not alone. Breastfeeding is best, but it can also be the most difficult. Read on for my story.
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On April 7, 2011, our firstborn son, Ransom, joined the outside world joyously in our home. He began nursing like a champ but as those newborn baby days carried on I found myself losing that sense of wonder and bliss and spiralling into frustration and sadness as day after day I was completely immobilized by this tiny, precious, ever-hungry being. Within a few weeks I had mastered doing everything while breastfeeding: cooking, cleaning, eating, sleeping, using the bathroom and even picking berries.
I had prepared myself for the physical demands of breastfeeding, but not the psychological. I knew that breastfeeding meant lots of time just sitting while baby ate…but I did not realize that it meant losing almost everything else I did, everything I felt that made me, “me”. My nature to be moving and active was stopped short by this little creation that needed me to sit still so he could eat. It drove me mad.
I don’t like to think I was depressed but I was definitely sad for weeks. I felt like I had lost myself and that I would never again do more than sit and nurse this baby. I felt like an invalid, needing the world to come to me, where as before I was self sufficient. I was impatient with breastfeeding, it was interrupting my wants, needs and desires. But most of all I felt like I wasn’t contributing to anything, like I was useless, good for nothing more than a milk machine.
I had no choice though but to ride the wave. That little baby wanted to eat and I had no choice but to be there to feed him. However, those days turned into weeks and a month or two and Ransom and I began to find some rhythm and routine. Suddenly, as we joined the world together as a pair, those quiet moments we would have to steal away to nurse turned into beautiful little times of reflection and peace.
I began to learn that my identity didn’t come from what I did, and that I was contributing more by nourishing my baby than I ever did washing the dishes or doing laundry.
I also learned that slowing down, though so very against my nature, was something that was good for me so I could stop and reflect on what was going on around me, rather than rushing through it to get something, anything done.
Fourteen months later, I miss breastfeeding. I watch my friends nurse their babes and long for those stolen moments of solitude with just my baby again. I regret loathing breastfeeding at the start but those psychological demands are something that any mama would have a difficult time preparing for. You can know about it, but you never know just how bad it is until you are in the thick of it (similar to sleep deprivation). I am however, content that I found the joy of it and savoured that joy for a little while.
Breastfeeding is hard, it is challenging and it can be merciless at times but it is rewarding beyond measure for both mama and babe. The psychological toll it took on me, I believe, worked to humble me and worked to make me stronger, more resilient and over all a better mother.
Unfortunately, our breastfeeding battle did not end there…
Have you struggled with the psychological demands of breastfeeding? Stay tuned for the second and third parts of Naomi’s story, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.