Monday, May 16, 2011

Breastfeeding Reflections

I just tucked my baby boy in for the night.  His last feeding is my favorite and I hate when I am not home and miss it.  Either hubby or I will put Baby Boy in his jammies and sleep sack with a clean diaper around 7 (to which he is usually a bit fussy).  Then I sit down in the comfy glider arm chair in his room, pull my baby close, begin a natural sway of the chair and nurse him.  He keeps his eyes open for about 3 minutes and then finishes the rest of his feeding with eyes closed as he dozes off to sleep.  I unlatch my limp baby boy and lay him down to sleep in his crib as his mouth moves, still suckling his imaginary milk.

This feeding and the hundreds that have come before it make me so grateful that I endured the first few months of breastfeeding when it was not enjoyable, hurt, made me exhausted, hungry...  When my baby was not getting enough so I had to pump after EVERY feeding and the middle of the night until he was months old.

The reason I include this here is to encourage any new moms to not give up.  Take it one feeding at a time at first.   I had to.  Many days I was saying, I can't do it, I don't want to feed him even one more time.  But just like running, you take the next step and before you know it you take one more... Yeah we all can read health benefits and blah, blah but I am talking about a moment you will cherish when it's a bond only you and your baby can have.

I was sure I wanted to give breastfeeding a whirl but I honestly thought it was a little weird.  After all, we live in a culture that sexualizes a woman's breasts and before a baby-- hey, that's about all they are good for.  I was nervous for reasons that only a woman's brain can think up before I had a baby and totally frustrated early on with nursing.  Everyone tells you it can be tough-- that's true-- but it also is hard when you are only sleeping in spurts, having company, have a kiddo that takes a minimum of 30 minutes to eat, your back hurts, you have nipples that feel incredibly raw (wearing a bra and taking a shower hurts), have a baby that is ready to do it all over again 2 1/2 hours after you started the last feeding.   And about the time mom and baby get the hang of it-- the American work force wants you back and you're told to pump during the 9 hours you'r away.  (Hello mechanical pump and sore breasts!)  It's a wonder we do breastfeed in the modern world.

BUT and I mean and huge and bold BUT... it's worth it!  Once you get over that hump and get past the fact that your breasts are indeed for more than a thrill... and you are tucking your sleeping baby in at night, you're comforting them with a liquid gold only you can give, you're holding them, smelling them, watching them change and transform right under your nose --  it's all worth it!

And you get it.  You understand why women before you have cried when this stage is over.  You get that mom's before you are envious of the stage of life you are now in.  You get why bottle feeding is just not the same experience.  You get it.

Science, health, logic can say what it wants.  You understand in a way only a mom can-- feeling thankful for each feeding you get to spend with your baby.

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