Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

A year ago, I was still struggling to breastfeed my son. I was able to produce milk, unlike after my first pregnancy, but I had to load myself up with galactagogues to do so. I also had to maintain a high (for me) calorie diet to prevent dips in supply. Unless I nursed frequently, I developed clogged ducts (this is still true), so I couldn’t really leave my son for any length of time. I wondered, given all of these challenges, if I’d make it to a year. I never set a breastfeeding goal, per se – though I did say that I would have to seriously consider whether or not I could continue once he got teeth – but in my heart, I hoped I would make it to a year.

And I did. Better yet, I’ve made it to nearly 17 months – almost a year and a half. Granted, he only has 4 teeth (though he’s working on two more), but we’ve gone through the biting stage and came out the other side.

I struggled with finding a doctor who would respect my decision to breastfeed and work to find me medications I can take when I get sick.

I’ve nursed through a 4-day bout of stomach flu, through colds, through whatever plague I had a few weeks back that (combined with my first postpartum period) left me 10 lbs lighter.

I’ve nursed in restrooms, in cars, in restaurants, in funeral homes, in parks. I’ve nursed while working, while cleaning, while shopping, during teleconferences, while applying for jobs, while applying for unemployment.

I’ve pumped. I’ve failed to produce a “freezer stash.” I’ve learned that my son won’t drink out of bottles anyway, and particularly hates reheated milk.

I took so much fenugreek that I developed an allergy to it. I power pumped my way up to an adequate supply when I had to cease all galactagogues or risk my own health.

I’ve nursed him to comfort him – when he can’t fall asleep, when he wakes from a nightmare, when he falls and hurts himself, when he’s frustrated or lonely or bored. I’ve nursed him when he needs a hug, a tickle, or just wants some alone time with me.

Breastfeeding is hard. As hard as it’s been for me, I cannot imagine what some women go through. Those who work outside the home. Those who must travel frequently. Those whose families are unsupportive of breastfeeding. Those who cannot, for whatever reason, feed their babies from their breasts. The worst I’ve had to deal with is the discomfort of those who don’t know how to separate the sexualization of a woman’s breast from its practical function.

If you encounter a breastfeeding mother in public, show her some support. Even veteran moms are sometimes a little uncomfortable nursing in public, because we never know if someone’s going to say something awful to us. It’d be really nice if you said something supportive to her, but if you can’t, please just avert your eyes and say nothing.

As for me, I have no plans of weaning my son. He will wean himself when he’s ready. So you’ll be hearing more on this subject from me, I’m sure. The longer I nurse, the more invested I become in supporting other nursing mothers. And one of the best ways to do that is to normalize breastfeeding – by talking about it, by posting photos of it, and by doing it wherever my son needs me to.

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3 thoughts on “Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

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