World Breastfeeding Week: Keeping At It

Mom and Caden Swim

Having breastfed for one year with Rylan, and nine months in with Caden (doing all I can to survive my first strike experience), I totally and completely understand why the 3 – 6-month mark is the leading time when mothers decide to wean. Currently Caden hasn’t nursed in almost two weeks, so I am pumping every three to four hours as my schedule allows during the day with work and life.

In the early days, the sleep deprivation adds up. You can become resentful at your partner who isn’t tethered to the baby or a pump. You get busy and miss some pumping sessions and see an immediate impact in supply. Friends or family ask, “how long are you going to do that for,” or “you’re still nursing, wow,” and you feel self-conscious about your choice.

I’ve personally battled all of these feelings, reassessed my commitment (and sanity) each time, and continued forward.

 

 

Baby Benefits

I firmly believe my ability to keep Rylan on breastmilk for a year strengthened his immune system immensely. He started going to daycare full-time at just four months. Yes, we caught a few colds and one epic stomach bug, but overall he was one of the healthiest kids in the class. Caden wasn’t quite as lucky being born during cold and flu season last year, but after recovering from RSV like a total champ (during which I pumped nonstop in the hospital) he has been extremely healthy—and is also in a daycare setting five days a week.

Good for Mom

Beyond the physical and cognitive benefits for baby, let’s talk about ourselves for a moment! Can you say baby weight? Nursing isn’t a sure bet on dropping every last baby weight pound, and you do often hold onto a few until weaning to help produce what you need, but I do think it makes a difference. Every bit helps! The trick to remember is stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, as breastfeeding can leave you absolutely famished—much more so than pregnancy in my experience. Further, do not feel like you cannot leave the baby. Go workout. Meet friends for dinner. Take a trip! If you do not do these things I can almost guarantee you will not make it as long as you wanted originally. Build a stash, plan ahead, and be sure to live life with and without the little one in tow.

Another personal tip is to reach out to your mom tribe—the moms who breastfed before you or are in the trenches with you. I cannot tell you how many text threads helped me gain perspective, stop my tears and celebrate successes when I needed advice or some encouraging words.

It Really Does Get Easier

If you are reading this and are about to begin or are somewhere along your breastfeeding journey, let me say this. It should get easier. Much easier.

In fact, it can become so quick and natural that you’ll choose a quick nursing session 9 times out of 10 rather than mess with a bottle. In time it becomes so much less of a chore every three hours and more of a quiet five or 10 minute reprieve from the craziness of life to just sit with your baby, admire how much they’ve grown, and reflect on where you are headed as a mom and family.

I share all of this with the strong caveat that I am writing from my own personal experience. Please know I pass no judgement on whatever you decide. Happy mom, healthy baby. That is the mantra I look to spread and share with my mom tribe no matter what.

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