Within the first hour of Seeley’s birth I began breastfeeding. I’d like to say it was a beautiful moment from the beginning, but it was not. We had a bit of a rough start. It took two days for my milk to come in, which is technically normal (although as a new mom I didn’t know this!), and so the little guy was not gaining weight like he should. After the first day the doctors began to suggest that I start to supplement with formula — I told them absolutely not. My body was made to do this (or at least I hoped it would cooperate!) and I did not want to introduce formula to my young infant. Luckily I had the support of my husband, mother, and doula or I might not have been strong enough to go against the doctors orders. After my milk came in things continued to be less than perfect — Seeley had a hard time latching properly, my nipples were cracked, sore and bleeding, and the lack of sleep was beginning to wear on me. Two weeks into it, after a long and brutal feeding session, I cried and begged Scott to buy formula (two seconds later I changed my mind). Truth: Breastfeeding is hard, you just have to get over the hump! I told everyone that my goal was 6 months, and I am proud to say that I continued breastfeeding my son until he was 2 years and 9 months. Wahoo! It was his choice to stop and although I was sad to end our breastfeeding journey I always knew he would get to the point where he no longer needed it and I respected his choice to stop.
Now you might be wondering why I am telling you all of this? I want you to know that I understand breastfeeding is hard. It has not always been easy or pleasant for me. It took a good month for it to not feel like someone was taking razor blades to my nipples. I pushed past the pain because I knew it would benefit my son, and me for that matter, for the rest of our lives. What are the benefits you may ask?
The longer you breastfeed the better for your child. Formula is not the best substitute as it does not have those amazing antibodies or immunities that are found in breastmilk (I know many who have had to stop for medical purposes or lack of production of milk — no judgement here!). I’m telling you breastmilk is like liquid gold! My son has been sick with a cold a total of three times in his life and it only lasted a few days in large part due to breastmilk — did you know that the breast knows which antibodies to make through the saliva from the baby? Isn’t the body amazing?! Breastfeeding has also been found to benefit you by creating a lower risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer, helps you shed some of that pregnancy weight gain, and helps you create a secure bond with your baby. Win, win, win!
The World Health Organization suggests you exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of your babies life and continue, with solids, to two years of age. Sadly many babies here in the US do not get an adequate amount…
Why are people not exclusively breastfeeding when there are so many benefits? Well for starters we still live in a very patriarchal society, and it is not valued like many other things are. Women are not given adequate time off from work, a space to pump, or the overall feeling that it is a beautiful thing to support your child in this way. We get stared at, talked about, and shamed. Our doctors, who are supposed to be all knowing when it comes to health, suggest that we feed our babies formula, when all we need is MORE SUPPORT!
Breastfeeding my child, sustaining his life, is one of the most important things that I have done. The long term benefits on his health make those negative comments and dirty stares all fade away. This life is not just about me anymore, its about making sure my child grows up with the best that I can give him and I plan on doing just that. So the next time you see a Mama whip out her boob to feed her two year old child, either give her a high five, or look the other way. I don’t care if it goes against what others consider “normal”, our babies health comes first!
Breathing in the beauty of breastfeeding,
P.S. If you have any topic suggestions, or have any questions, please let me know by commenting or emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Not everything I do with my child will work for you and your family; every child and family is unique, so please keep this in mind when you are reading.