Thursday, 1 August 2013

Intro to International Breastfeeding Week

I am excited to do this series of posts. I've been thinking about them for months. Over the next few days we'll talk a little about the benefits, challenges, resources and special situations of breastfeeding. Let's start out with my story. Why did I decide to breastfeed my babies?

nursing baby #2 in hospital
I think it started with dreaming about being a pioneer woman when I was little. I knew they would have had a hard time giving a bottle to their babies. The truth is I don't know when or why I made the conscious decision that that was the way that I wanted to nourish my babies. I had no idea what an incredibly healthy decision I had just made for me and my future babies.

When I was an older teenager I started to read books about birth. I was excited about having a baby someday and knew I would nurse that baby. However, and here's the interesting thing, although I read dozens of books about pregnancy and having babies, I can't remember reading a single book about nursing babies. I guess I just figured it would all happen naturally since that's the way we are designed to feed our babies. I was so sure that it would be a simple matter of putting the baby to the breast and letting nature take its course.
nursing baby #3 while
trying to read my Bible
Then I had my first baby. So many ideals were blown away. I went from a natural homebirth dream to a semi-emergency caesarean in a very short time. Perhaps I'll do a post on some of my birth stories someday. I LOVE reading birth stories. Each is so unique. Well, I didn't have the birth of my dreams, but I could still nurse my baby. In fact, she nursed in the recovery room. I was surprised by how painful nursing was. Not every woman experiences this, but I did and still do. For the first couple of weeks I'm just grinning and bearing it. Okay, sometimes I'm crying but there's a lot of fatigue and hormones mixed up in that too.
When my baby was four days old we ended up with thrush (I think it was brought on by the antibiotics I was given in the surgery, but that's another post.) So my breastfeeding experience was off to a rocky start. Thankfully the thrush cleared up quickly. I'm glad I was too naïve to realize how blessed I was in that. My baby was a fussy nurser though. In hindsight I think I just had a really strong letdown that she struggled with.

nursing baby #4 - stopped for
a coffee on the way to church
Someone advised me to give it six weeks and everything would smooth out. I didn't plan on quitting, but it was nice to give myself a goal to work towards. When it's working well breastfeeding is bliss. And when it's not working well it's still so good to know (and help me keep making the effort) that I'm giving my child the best food possible.
When she was three months old I went to my first La Leche League (a breast feeding support group) meeting. I'll cover this in another post. It was great. I wish I had known that I could have gone while I was pregnant. I would have been better prepared for some of the challenges that I faced in the first few weeks. Eight babies in I still go to these meetings. There is such a wealth of information, and I still have questions.
Baby #6 - my best nurser
 right after birth
Baby #1 was a fairly easy baby nursing-wise. She taught herself to sleep through the night at eight months. I had no idea how good I had it. That was the last baby who was a good night sleeper. My next baby set the rhythm for sleep being interrupted every two hours - sometimes sooner. It was h.a.r.d., but now my body is used to it. Not that I'm not tired from multiple night feedings, I'm just more prepared mentally. I also let my babies sleep with me so I can sleep while they nurse, but again that's a subject for another post.
I have been blessed to have very few problems compared to stories I have heard at La Leche meetings. I so enjoy breastfeeding. It is one of the best ways of nourishing and/or comforting your child. I feel that every woman should at least try to feed her baby this way. God designed our bodies to feed our babies and you can't improve on the design. I am very passionate about this subject so please bear with me if I seem a little zealous.

Please join me this coming week as I celebrate International Breastfeeding Week. I will be talking about some of the benefits, resources, challenges and special situations that arise when breastfeeding.

By my conservative count I have nursed my babies 32,880 times! Wow! That's going on eight times a day (average) and 137 months in total (so far).
I made another count awhile ago - I've fit in a few more nursing
session since then.
Did you nurse your baby? What was your favourite part?

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