When Breastfeeding isn’t Easy

by Sarah Juliusson of www.MamaRenew.ca – Find Mama Renew on Facebook & Twitter

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.

Dec 5 2001Harder, 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.

_DSC5239Wondering 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!!!).

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What about you –

How were you amazing in your breastfeeding journey?

Mama Renew

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