Disclosure :: World Breastfeeding Week is recognized August 1 – 7, 2015. This year, World Breastfeeding Weekcalls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed. Our World Breastfeeding Week series is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
To make things clear, I will tell you outright that I had zero intentions of breastfeeding. It was not something that appealed to me, nor was it something I wanted to talk about. In fact, I vividly remember the first conversation I had with my son’s pediatrician when I was pregnant. “Do you plan to breastfeed?” she asked. The mere mention of breastfeeding made my face grow hot and hands turn sweaty. “No,” I quickly answered, “it doesn’t seem like the thing for me, so I plan to go with bottle-feeding.” I was pleasantly surprised, even after her recommendation to breastfeed, at how supportive the pediatrician was of my decision.
My husband’s stance? “Do what you want; it is your body.” Most of family did not seem to condone breast or bottle. I mean, I was bottle-fed as a baby, and I turned out fine. In spite of my rationale, I could not resist asking my friend’s advice on the matter shortly after she gave birth to her son a few months before my due date. After hashing out my overly rehearsed reasons for not breastfeeding, she told me something I will never forget – worst case I try it, don’t like it, and switch to bottle-feeding. Even though the advice stuck with me, I shoved it into the back of my head as I skillfully avoided all books, articles, and classes related to breastfeeding for the rest of my pregnancy.
Change of Plans
After my son’s birth via C-section, the nurse brought him into the recovery room and asked me if I wanted to feed him. It was at this moment something came over me. You could call it the after-effects of anesthesia, the miracle of motherhood, or a wild hair, but when that nurse asked me if I wanted to feed my son, my response was “Sure, why not,” quickly followed by “I have no clue what to do.”
My son latched right away. It was the most surreal moment of my life – a time when I ventured into completely uncharted territory and felt oddly comfortable at the same time. The benefits of having a C-section included a longer stay in the hospital and several lactation consultations. When we returned home to our bottle and formula-filled home, I felt fairly confident that we would not be needing them any time soon.
What I will not tell you is my breastfeeding journey was easy. I worried constantly if my son was eating enough. After waking for the fourth or fifth time in the middle of the night for feedings, I mentally kicked myself with the realization that breast-fed babies needed to eat more often than bottle-fed babies. My sleep-deprived self suddenly had to worry about breast pump reviews and milk storage and pumping at work. I did not suddenly lose my modesty. In fact, visitors brought a new stress, especially if I knew it would be around the time my son needed to eat (assuming he stayed on a regular schedule…HAHA!). I was not the mother openly feeding her child in the middle of a restaurant. I was the mom in the car, covered up, parked in the back of the parking lot.
Despite thinking I was lucky for having little issues with latch and supply, I encountered other complications. At a few months old, my son developed a rash, and a milk allergy was deemed the likely cause of my son’s eczema and lack of weight gain. The words “failure to thrive” are probably one of the last things a new mother wants written in her child’s medical chart. Yet, that is where I found myself. I cut all dairy from my diet and supplemented with formula specifically for milk allergies (you know the kind – the most expensive brand of formula that NEVER has coupons).
After finally getting into a groove of non-dairy, formula-supplemented breastfeeding, we reached the one year mark. The journey was not easy, but we made it and slid “gracefully” into baby-led weaning.
Am I happy I decided to breastfeed? Absolutely! I truly believe my split-second decision aligned with what I wanted deep down.
Was it easy? Of course not! But, honestly, name one thing about motherhood that IS easy.
What about the rest of the plan? Oh yeah, that thing. I threw the plan, along with many other ideas about parenting, out the window a long time ago. Why?
Deciding to breastfeed taught me an important lesson about motherhood–things rarely go as planned.