I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed when the time came. What I didn’t know was how breastfeeding would completely change my life. There are many benefits to breastfeeding that are often talked about; affordability, bonding with your child, and health benefits for mom and baby, but my breastfeeding journey revealed some things about myself that I did not explicitly know until I took the ride.
My breastfeeding journey taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to do.
I know that sounds cliche, but most things in life have come easy to me. I typically excel at anything I really give effort to. Going into breastfeeding, I thought it would be easy. I mean, your body makes milk and baby drinks it. Simple, right? Not so much. There was a lot that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that there would be a learning curve, for my son and for me. Neither one of us had done this before, so we had to figure it out – together. I spent the first few months with a baby attached to me for what seemed like twenty-four hours per day. Breastfeeding was all consuming. Everything revolved around the next feeding. What I wore, where we went, what we were able to do: breastfeeding was a determining factor in it all. We figured it out though, and all was well, until I had to go back to work. Now I had to figure out pumping – when, where, how, and the joys and pains of pump output. Some days were great, and other days I cried. Breastfeeding was overwhelming, but I was determined to make it work. And I did make it work for twelve months. My breastfeeding journey challenged me in a way I have never been challenged before. I don’t think I’ve ever given so much time, energy, and effort into something. It made me realize that when I really want something, I will do what it takes to make it happen.
Breastfeeding also taught me the importance of community and having a “mom tribe.”
There’s no way I would have been as successful on my breastfeeding journey without a support system. I was fortunate enough to have a mom who breastfed both children, a moms group led by lactation consultants, and friends who were breastfeeding at the same time. Without that “mom tribe,” I would’ve quit a lot sooner. Having a support system is imperative to breastfeeding, and to motherhood in general. We all need support, comfort, and a shoulder to lean on. It’s important to have various vantage points to help you on your journey; a good balance of “been there, done that” and “we’re in this together.” Breastfeeding has helped me build that tribe that will be with me through all the ups and downs of motherhood.
My breastfeeding journey was amazing. Not only did I learn more about breastfeeding in general, I learned about myself. I discovered that I am strong, patient, and resilient. I have become passionate about breastfeeding and endeavor to educate others and support mamas on their journeys. The lessons are endless and I am still learning, even though I am no longer breastfeeding. Breastfeeding showed me a different side of myself, and for that, I am grateful.