I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding—more love than hate, but it’s definitely not always a joy. Every mom is entitled to make her own decision about how to feed her baby. For me, the decision to breastfeed was something that came naturally; I always knew that I would try to breastfeed my baby and that I would do it as long as it was physically possible.
When I was pregnant I remember wondering if my body would actually be able to produce milk. It was amazing and exciting and freakishly weird when I noticed for the first time that colostrum was being produced. And as natural as breastfeeding is, it certainly did not come easily to me. After my C-section, Matthew carried Graham into the recovery room, so I could hold him for the first time.
Before that moment, I had read countless times about how you should initiate breastfeeding within the first hour if possible. But as a first-timer I felt so awkward and thought, do I just whip out my boob in front of the nurse and my doctor and everyone? I held him for a few seconds—filled with love but frozen and bewildered at the same time. Thankfully my awesome nurse stepped in and said, “Are you ready to try to feed him? Now is a great time. Let me help you.”
I am so grateful for all the breastfeeding help that I was given during my hospital stay. I had no idea what I was doing, and the caring nurses and patient lactation specialists gave me lots of encouragement and help to get me started on this journey.
Breastfeeding is a commitment and a sacrifice. After almost 10 months of pregnancy, it still feels like my body belongs to my baby. While you can eat with more freedom than during pregnancy (hello sushi, brie and medium rare steaks!), you still have to be careful with medications and alcohol intake. If you’re not pumping yet, you are your baby’s lifeline—you can’t be away from him for more than two hours at a time. Becaue I’m working, every few hours during the day I have to pump. Then there’s the transporting of the milk back home and washing/sterilizing pump parts every day. No matter what, I’m either breastfeeding or pumping every few hours. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work.
But then I remember all the perks. It makes me so happy to know Graham is getting the best nutrition I can possibly give him. It is a special feeling of pride to know I’m “growing” him with my milk. Then there’s the bonding aspect. I love the closeness breastfeeding provides. I love feeding him when I’ve been away at work all day and reconnecting in this special way. I love the look on his face when he unlatches for a moment and grins up at me, milk dribbling down his chin like he’s saying, “Thank you, mama!”
Also, breastfeeding is a blessing for those middle of the night feeds. I’m glad to not have to stumble around trying to get a bottle together when I’m half asleep.
Finally, breastfeeding is a great calorie burner (200-500 calories a day)! I’m ashamed to say I’ve only worked out a handful of times since having Graham, but because of breastfeeding I’m back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Call me lazy if you want, but I’ll take breastfeeding over running a few miles every day, thank you very much.