I was given a lot of advice while I was pregnant with my firstborn, but no one warned me about the initial time commitment and intensity of nursing a newborn. I was so totally unprepared when my oldest was born. I knew nothing of cluster feeds and the fourth trimester where the baby still constantly needs Mommy’s presence through nursing. Add in a month worth of weight gain issues, poor advice from Auggie’s first pediatrician, and an undiagnosed lip tie, and it didn’t take long before I gave up.
I was left thinking that breastfeeding was impossible, not to mention inconvenient and impractical. I even had this stigma that only super moms breastfed and that “normal” moms used formula. To be honest, I was even a little jaded by how difficult it was and how no one prepared with good advice on how to breastfeed. But harder than any of it, I was left feeling like I was not enough for my baby boy.
Thank goodness I moved to Guatemala while I was pregnant with Baby Roberts the Sequel. I quickly realized that the American culture was to blame for the misinformation on breastfeeding and the stigmas that formula feeding was normal and expected. After watching friends feed their babies with such convenience and ease and seeing the attachment that came from it, I was determined to make it work this time.
It was demanding in the beginning, but we are fifteen months strong today. We have nursed through weight gain issues, through sleepy newborn days and sleepless newborn nights, on two different continents, when he was fighting for his life while battling High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), through the trauma that followed his experience with HAPE, on the coast of Maine in the most magical of settings, through thrush, two cases of the Flu, a case of RSV, two cases of croup, and handful more sickness, through milestones and a birthday, and so much more. It has been one of the biggest blessings to nurse this sweet boy and has been a peaceful place for both of us in some really hard moments. Through it all, I have learned that Breastfeeding is not impossible, in fact, it isn’t even hard. It is natural and beautiful. It is convenient and easy. It is healthy and bond-forming.
This is not my typical content for this blog, but I feel so compelled to share it: for the mom that is jaded like I was, for the mom convinced that her supply will never be enough, and for the mom-to-be that lives in a culture that says breastfeeding is too hard. A friend asked me the other day about what I thought about breastfeeding after having done it for so long with Gideon. Pregnant with her fourth, I knew her thoughts were much like mine prior to Gideon. I think she was a little surprised when I responded that I thought nursing was far easier than formula feeding. I had to explain and actually do some convincing to back up my answer, revealing that many Mamas have begun to believe that breastfeeding is impossible.
Hear this mom-to-be: you can breastfeed. You are enough.
God created your body to be able to do exactly that. It is the vehicle through which He designed for you to not only help your sweet baby thrive but also form an incredible bond to you. It may require some really long nights, lactation cookies, learning about lip and tongue ties, and fighting for it, but the fight is so worth it. Let’s normalize breastfeeding, and create a culture where Mama’s know that they are enough.