Six years ago I became a first-time mom to a precious baby boy. I had waited 40 long weeks to meet this new little person. After he was born, I was in complete awe of what my body had accomplished and was excited to discover everything motherhood would bring.
I was ready for dirty diapers, sleepless nights and showerless days. What I wasn’t prepared for was the challenge of breastfeeding. I didn’t know how time-consuming nursing would be. I remember thinking, “This isn’t what the books say!” Suddenly I felt like I was treading water.
It was lonely and isolating. I had no one to talk to and felt like I was stuck at home all day and night, because surely the second I tried to leave the house it would be time for my baby to eat again.
I was dedicated to make breastfeeding work for me and decided to attend the breastfeeding support group at AAMC. In walked the vibrant Kim Knight, board-certified lactation consultant, to a room full of breastfeeding moms who were all experiencing their own unique challenges. Suddenly I had hope!
I left each group meeting with more confidence and joy. I learned to stress less, live life more and that the ‘books’ aren’t always right when it comes to breastfeeding.
My baby’s nursing pattern was normal. In fact, his frequent nursing was encouraging my body to establish a good milk supply. I learned about the unique supply and demand milk production process. My body would learn to supply exactly what my baby was demanding. It’s amazing when you stop to think about it!
This was my first lesson in trusting my body and my baby, and trusting myself as a mother. We knew what we were doing after all! I quickly learned that so many moms need to hear the message that nursing can be challenging, but you can do it if you want. You just need a little education and the right support and resources.
Often, moms think their milk supply is low when it really isn’t. At that very first support group there was a sweet mom who just could not trust that her body was enough. She thought she had to pump every feed to make sure she had enough milk for her baby. She became exhausted, stressing over every ounce she did or did not pump.
You don’t need to stress about the numbers and ounces. Your baby is your proof. As long as your baby is gaining weight on breast milk, then your supply is good. I’ve also learned along the way that the amount of milk you pump is not an accurate measure of how much your baby is getting when they feed directly from your breast. Your baby is much more efficient than your pump!
I had no clue how many ounces of milk my baby was getting, but I saw him growing and thriving. I started to appreciate his sweet little rolls that I worked so hard to give him! That was my evidence.
One of our first jobs as a mom is to be able to feed our baby. If you choose to breastfeed and it’s not going well, it can be devastating. I can’t stress enough the value of a support network, whether it’s an in-person group, a Facebook group or a couple of friends who understand.
Also, determining your personal breastfeeding goals is such an important part of the journey. Everyone’s journey is different. Some women give pacifiers, some women exclusively pump, some women schedule feedings and some women nurse on demand. There are so many ways to breastfeed and they’re all OK! At the end of the day you have to know you are doing an amazing thing for your child, and you are always enough.