Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mama

One of the first decisions you make as a mother is whether or not to breastfeed. Whether you decided to nurse or not, or you breastfed a whole year or stopped after a month, it’s a personal decision that’s often laced with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or judgment.

And rarely does it go according to plan! To honor National #breastfeedingweek, we’re sharing a few personal breastfeeding stories from some stellar moms who’ve seen it all. And while there’s no guilt or judgment here, there’s certainly a lot us mamas can relate to!

OUR BODIES ARE A WONDERLAND

“I loved breastfeeding! That is of course after the two-week period of roughness (literally and figuratively) where my shoulders would tense and the bottoms of my feet would sweat every time he was about to latch. Mostly because my nipples felt like someone took sand paper to them. No one really told me how uncomfortable and a bit painful breastfeeding could be.

Man, am I sharing it from the rooftops now! I do not miss the lubed-up, Vaseline-covered nipple stage, with their rawness making it difficult to sleep and towel off after a shower. Then one day you realize that you and baby have figured out a rhythm, and you’re like, “Yes dude, we’ve got this!”

What I loved about breastfeeding was knowing that my body was healing and burning calories at the same time. And that it was providing all the nutrients my baby needed. Nursing felt like an extension of pregnancy, a special time to celebrate what my body can do and still be physically connected to my babe. I felt an incredible closeness while nursing as I got to gaze down at this little person that was mine.

I have a memory of falling asleep in the nursery glider while Ollie nursed during a night feeding. I woke up to find him sleeping soundly with his arms tucked under his chin and the sweetest little expression on his face. The hardest part of breastfeeding for me was stopping earlier than I had planned. I was sad for a few days, but then I decided to focus on the positive. Overall what I hold onto about my breastfeeding months, in all of it’s ups and downs, was it was a deep bonding time I had with my child. Moments full of precious eye contact, little hands tickling my arms, and the sweet, sleepy and happy face of my baby boy.”

– Katie, 31

KEEP ON PUMPING

“I nursed my son until he self-weaned just after 16 months. Years later when I became a surrogate, I knew I wanted to pump for all of the health reasons and decided to donate to a milk bank. So not only am I reaping the health benefits of pumping, but I’m helping save precious lives of micro preemies! I’ve been going strong for 20 months and plan to make it at least to the two-year mark.”

– Latasha, 30

NURSING SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD

“Breastfeeding was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I asked for help too late with my first and got pretty damaged. Nipple shields saved our breastfeeding relationship, and we kept going until 14 months. Stack that with pumping four times a day at work and it was the hardest effort I put into the first year. But we made it. And it was very rewarding.

My second daughter is here (a month old) and it’s again the hardest part about a newborn. I’m glad I’ve done it and will do it again for at least a year, but there are definitely lots of emotions, tears, and thoughts of saying, “Screw it, we will go to pumping and bottle feeding only.” But I’ve managed to make it!”

– Maria, 30

BONDED FOR LIFE

“I didn’t even think about breastfeeding until the moment my son was placed on my chest. I was soaking in all of his beauty and was completely amazed he was with us. The nurse in my recovery room piped up and said “Didn’t you want to try to let him nurse?!” Ohhhhh, that’s what you do after a baby is born. I guess you have to feed it now!

He was reluctant his first few hours of life, and then the nurses decided maybe they should try a dose of formula. He wanted nothing to do with that and immediately tried nursing again and success! He loved his mommy milk!

We fought the first couple months with two rounds of thrush. Many nights I cried when it came time to nurse and he had to latch. It hurt so badly when he latched, but he needed to eat. I was conflicted. I still don’t know how I made it through those days.

But we had a very healthy nursing relationship. We made it to 16 months when he decided he wasn’t interested anymore. My kiddo is now 26 months, and when I get changed in front of him he stares at the “milkies” and giggles. I know he remembers our bond!”

– Kristin, 26

 

Natalie Kurz

Natalie is a writer and editor who published her first piece in 10th grade (in a national literary magazine, but her mother says it still counts). In her spare time, she's a parent to two kids (10 and 6) who provide her with daily fodder for her writing. And an added excuse to drink wine and eat chocolate.