In honour of World Breastfeeding Week I want to explore a bit the emotional landscape of breastfeeding challenges.
In a story I have seen repeated all too often, my early months of breastfeeding featured an achingly low milk supply, conflicting professional advice, and well-meaning but deeply hurtful commentary. This blessed time in my life also included a not-so-nice dose of postpartum depression, a rented scale to measure intake, a supplementary nursing system, formula, goats milk, a variety of herbs and medications, and the requisite hospital grade pump that became a good friend.
It was hard. Hard,yes, to wake up every 2- 3 hours for a pre-feed-weigh-in, breastfeed, supplemental feed, pump, post-weigh-in, and diaper change. That was hard. I ached for the simplicity of putting my babe to breast and simply knowing that he was being amply nourished.
Harder, however, was the emotional journey of acceptance that this was my reality. Having supported hundreds of women through birth & postpartum I somehow thought that my own experience would be one of ease and grace. Stuck in a reality far different from my expectations, I found myself struggling to accept that I could not provide the nourishment my baby needed.
In hindsight there are 1001 things that of course I wish had happened that didn’t. Things that I somehow imagine might have made the difference. Earlier support, a better pump, a phone call that didn’t happen, knowledge of the wonders of domperidone, the list of “What if’s…” goes on.
If I could change just one thing about my first months of breastfeeding my son Galen, however, it is this:
I wish I could have is that I could have been more gentle with myself, rather than sitting in a place of burden and self-judgment.
My gift to all of you for World Breastfeeding week is this:
Whatever your breastfeeding journey has brought you, take a moment to honor all that you have given. Set aside the “What-if’s” and “Why-didn’ts” and simply celebrate what you have been able to share with your child. We all do the best we can, one day at a time – through the early weeks and months, and over the years to come.
Wondering how it all ended? At 3 months postpartum I was miraculously back up to a just barely enough full supply of milk for my growing boy, and we entered the world of breastfeeding with ease. He was a devoted breastfeeder until he was 25 months old. On the day his little brother was born he simply stopped sucking, a sudden weaning I was far from prepared for… and I began a new, much simpler breastfeeding relationship with our newborn son Zekiah, who self-weaned 4 1/2 years later with a celebratory boob cake (wish I had a photo of the cake to share!!!).
What about you –
How were you amazing in your breastfeeding journey?
About Sarah Juliusson
Sarah Juliusson, founder of Mama Renew, is a gifted facilitator and writer on the journey of birth & motherhood. She brings two decades of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth and motherhood to her work. Sarah is mother to two growing boys, a playful crafter with cloth & wool, student of traditional food preservation, and a diva at heart. Join the conversation on http://www.mamarenew.ca & on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mamarenew