As a first-time mom, feeding my baby was a constant source of concern, but I’m realizing that, after fifteen months, it didn’t have to be. While pregnant, I had read and heard unfamiliar terms like lactation, let-down, latch, supply, top-up, formula, donor milk, colostrum, mastitis, expressing, engorgement, pumping, bottle-feeding, solids, purees, infant cereal, and baby-lead weaning. Feeding seemed to be a big topic, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
Once my baby was born, and breastfeeding began, I started to experience what some of these words meant. I felt overwhelmed. I wanted to give up. I sobbed to my mom, telling her I didn’t have the strength to keep it up for much longer. I wondered if I should be nursing on a set schedule, if I was producing enough milk, or if I was eating something that upset caused my baby. I thought my son would miraculously sleep through the night if I fed him formula, but I felt guilty if I gave it to him; it was a time-consuming (and sometimes embarrassing) process to get my boob out; trying to bottle-feed felt like more effort than pumping; and my boy has a tongue and lip tie, so we had to work at getting him to latch properly. It felt like an endless struggle.
Once I’d met other moms who had difficulties, my perspective changed. Some of my friends were unable to breastfeed due to post-partum depression and anxiety, physical pain, or an anatomical inability to express milk. Some babies couldn’t latch. Some babies were fed formula or donor milk from their first day of life. Some mothers pumped exclusively just to bottle-feed breastmilk. I wasn’t the only one who felt overwhelmed, guilty, or concerned about feeding my baby. I started to feel better – because it was tough for everyone.
After three months, my baby and I had a routine down. At five months, he was trying solids. But then the worry crept back again – this time, about food variety. I would buy one of every vegetable, making a puree for each. It was time consuming and sometimes frustrating to have my baby reject it. But, I kept at it. And it got better and better. Six, nine, twelve, and now fifteen months have gone by, and guess what? We are still breastfeeding, imagine that!
I wish I could rewind the clock and tell myself to keep it simple. I’d tell myself to trust my instinct and mute the opinions of others unless they were positive. I’d be more confident in my choices and adapt when I felt the need. I would reach out for more support and I’d try to feel good about my choices from the beginning, for myself and for my baby.
Rachel Jones is an up-and-coming local blogger and new mother, who recently left the desk job of her dreams to parent full-time. She is a talker, connector, planner and community enthusiast, who enjoys living in the heart of Downtown Edmonton with her young family. Learning as she goes, Rachel is writing about important places, news, events, and resources for new parents and centralizing it all on her blog, Edmomton.
Grey Nuns: 780.735.7346
Misericordia Hospital: 780.735.2577
Royal Alexandra: 780.735.4605
LA LECHE LEAGUE
La Leche League facilities offer free group and one-on-one breastfeeding support in your community. Meetings are held by volunteers and are listed online. Go to www.lllc.ca and search your area for information on the meeting date, time, and location. Call 1.800.665.4324 if you have questions.
Notes: IBCLC means International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
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