Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why I love breastfeeding

My baby girl just had her 2 month shots at her well-visit. The following day, the poor babe was miserable, achy, feverish, and fussy.

The miracle cure? Nursing, of course! As soon as I would put her to breast, she would instantly settle down, and look up at me with her big, blue, sparkling eyes.

It makes me so happy to be able to offer her something so comforting, so soothing.

Before babies, I always had a very small chest. I never liked my breasts. They were small and insignificant. I never thought of myself as "sexy" and, like most teenagers, had a bit of a hard time with self-esteem.

Now, as I am breastfeeding my second baby, I sometimes stop to marvel at my body! My breasts are round and warm with milk. They are amazing! I see the beauty in their purpose. Whenever I feel myself letting down, I am grateful for the wondrous relationship that breastfeeding allows me to have with my child. I can provide her with instant nutrition and comfort even after birth. Some people, after spending several hours visiting with me and baby, will comment "wow, she needs to eat again?! didn't she just eat?" I just giggle a little and explain that breastfeeding is SO MUCH MORE than just infant nutrition. It is a special way that only I can use to bond with my baby. I put her to breast whenever she wants it. I don't mind at all! It is not at all a chore or a burden. My sweet little daughter is instantly comforted by my warmth and I enjoy the skin-to-skin snuggling as I hold her to my breast. It is one of the most rewarding experiences of motherhood. It also helped me to SLOW DOWN and spend time relaxing with my baby. Breastfeeding forces me to just stop and focus on my baby. I know she loves that!

Breastfeeding, though, has not always been easy or fun! With my first baby (who was a very hungry 9 lb 6 oz boy!), my mature milk didn't come in until the end of my 4th postpartum day because I was a first time mom and I had a C-Section. Sometimes milk production is delayed in moms who deliver by cesarean because the body is so focused on healing at the incision site to focus on making milk. Those first few days of motherhood were so exhausting. I tried to rest and recover, while breastfeeding my infant every 1-2 hours. Later, we also struggled with a bout of mastitis and I almost lost my milk supply after a nasty stomach flu.

With my second baby, the first week was grueling. I was terribly engorged for 6 whole days and the baby had a hard time latching. Nursing a baby who suckles vigorously on two cracked and bleeding nipples is NOT FUN! Thankfully, though, I healed quickly after engorgement, and we've had no issues since. (Except that I learned the hard way that I can't eat cheesecake or ice cream, unless I want to clean up puke all day!)

Even with these minor setbacks and challenges, I LOVE breastfeeding! It is such a special gift I can offer my baby. I had a fabulous time nursing my first baby, and we only weaned at 15 months because he was no longer interested. I hope that I can nurse my second baby even longer.

As a nurse in an inner-city hospital, I am pleased with our high breastfeeding rates, but I am grateful for moms who lovingly bottle feed, too. I wish everyone could have the same sweet nursing relationship with their babies that I have, but I'm just glad when moms feed their babies at all!

Why do you love breastfeeding?

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