This week kicks off breastfeeding awareness and I wanted to talk about it in length here. I have so many mixed emotions on this topic. It is a loaded subject among moms to be sure. Breastfeeding stirs emotions like shame, failure, joy, comparison, and unwanted advice. I simply want to share our journey and what has helped. First and last, MOM KNOWS BEST! Go with your gut on everything concerning your baby, especially feeding them.
Thank you!. Thank you to the moms who feed their child the best way they know how. Breast is not always best. That is final. All environments are different. What is best for Mom is best for baby. Fed is best!
Breastmilk is incredible stuff, packed with vital nutrients and antibodies which build the immune system and protect against infection. In this way breastmilk is the best milk for your baby but the system of feeding may not be. It is 2019 after all and we have as many options as we do responsibilities as women. There are many factors to think about such as single-parent home, Post Part Depression, and Mom’s health post labor to name a few. These will help determine what is best for each family.
Factors to considering when navigating the art of feeding:
1.)Mom’s health : Physical & Mental
- Mom will be recovering physically. This will vary for each woman because no labor is the same. Mom will know her abilities and her limits.
- Mental Health: Postpartum Depression is real. It is not to be taken lightly. Breastfeeding can help regulate hormones or make it worse for Mom. My advice is to take it slow and ask for what you need.
2.) Hire a lactation consultant.
-A lactation consultant teaches mom and the baby. It is a learned trait for both parties. There will be a lactation consultant in the hospital but there is a lot going on. When you have been home and the milk is in, that is when you will need the most help. Hiring a lactation consultant 3-5 days after birth ensures that you will have experience and questions. Our lactation consultant was $125 for an hour and it was worth every penny.
3). Is your partner on board?
– Early on it was hard and milk was coming in too fast with pain. Jake was the one to unpack the breast pump, clean it, and bring it to me. I needed so much encouragement from Jake to keep going. There were days I thought “Will it continue to be this hard?” or “Does it have to be this painful?” but each week it got easier. I only pushed through because I had the the support from my husband. The fact that Jake believed in the process and had patience for all of it helped tremendously. It is what we both wanted. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to breastfeed that first week without support.
4). Put in the time before birth.
-Before the baby is born do your research. I highly recommend the Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding here. Read articles, and get multiple opinions for preparing yourself. Set up a breastfeeding station with water bottles, and a pillow. We used the Boppy and like that it grew with Jolene in the months to come. Also, prepare for things not going the way you plan. I continually try to accept that I can’t control everything and we have learned to go with the flow to the nth degree.
A fed baby being cuddled is the happiest moment when everyone’s needs are being met. Fed is best. Great mothers feed in all sorts of ways and they are all incredibly strong individuals. Breastfeeding, Formula feeding, or a mix of the two are all wonderful options.
Thank you for reading!
Photography by Shelley Foster