Monday, August 6, 2012

I make milk. That's my superpower.

In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Week, I thought I'd share 
a few things I've learned over the past year.
5 weeks after E's birth, at a shower given in her honour

All moms have to do what is right in their own circumstance.
We all have to do what is best for ourselves and our babies and hold each other up despite our different ways of mothering.  Breastfeeding works for me.  It works for my daughter.  I have met new moms who had to forgo breastfeeding then felt judged, saddened, and even depressed.  My heart goes out to these women.

As a breastfeeding mama, it is important to educate myself, trust my instinct, listen to my baby and ignore unsolicited, uneducated advice.  
People who don't know much about breastfeeding are not afraid to dole out opinions and advice on the matter.  I've heard everything from, "She's eating AGAIN?" to "Breastfeeding an older baby is gross.". I wonder what age constitutes an 'older baby', and how could human milk for a human baby possibly be more gross than cow's milk for a human baby? 

Having a support network was very important to me.
I got nursing bra advice from my prenatal massage therapist, I was given personal support with latching on from my doula, and my midwives are always able to answer questions as they arise. These women helped to make me into the lactating superstar I am today and I am forever grateful to them.  Hubby has been the biggest support of all.  He has been a facilitator, source of support, and advocate of our breastfeeding relationship from before E's birth.  I couldn't have done it without him.

Latching took practice in the beginning, but soon became very easy. 
Within weeks, I was able to nurse E in a sling, while reading or even shopping in IKEA.  Often, people didn't even know she was nursing.  Now at the age of one, E can nurse sideways, upside down, and while standing, playing, and laughing, often all at once.  Ah, the joys of nursing an acrobatic toddler!

Challenges in the breastfeeding relationship can be overcome.
I was sadly separated from my daughter as soon as she was born.  Despite the lag in time, we successfully began our breastfeeding relationship 3 days after her birth.  I cannot express enough gratitude for the beautiful bond that we were able to develop through our time spent nursing.  Nearly a year later, we faced night weaning and after a rough week, found our new balance once again.  

Breast milk helped to keep my baby well. 
When my little one did come down with a cold (only one all year), or a virus (again, only once), nursing comforted her, kept her hydrated & nourished, and built her immunity to get well quickly.  Applied topically, my milk helped to clear an eye infection and cradle cap.  When going through bouts of teething, tiredness, or over stimulation, I can always count on nursing to help calm & sooth her.  What a wonderful parenting tool to have at the ready.

Breast milk is a natural wonder.
A mother's milk changes from day to day and even during the course of a feeding to suit baby's needs.  That's amazing.  It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and contains antibodies specific to the germs that the child's body is dealing with at any given moment.  The milk at the start of a feed is more watery and thirst-quenching, while the milk toward the end of a feed is thicker and contains a higher amount of fat and protein to help keep baby full longer.  The more a baby nurses, the more milk the mother produces.  Science has yet to replicate breast milk because it is so complex and dynamic.  And women make it without trying.  Women are a natural wonder!

Nursing my daughter is the kindest, most selfless act I have ever performed.  
I always knew I would breastfeed, but it wasn't until our nursing relationship actually began that I realized what a gift it actually is.  I am providing so much more than perfect food for my daughter.  I am able to give her a calm place, love, security, warmth, comfort, and joy all with the simple and most natural of acts.

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