I went through pregnancy twice, once planned, once not. I'd say I enjoyed it, but I'll be honest, I'm the average woman. Though many moments were unforgettably wonderful, there were times when it was barely tolerable to have a little parasite on board. Every aspect of each pregnancy, just like the children I've nurtured during the past 8 years, was different. Of course, you expect that to a degree, but in some cases, the disparity was marked.
Take breastfeeding, for example.
Baby #1 arrived a week late, took 48 hours of labor - 24 of which were without meds and in excruciating pain (the first twelve weren't terrible, the last twelve had the benefit of an epidural plus exhaustion that knocked me cold), and found me on bed rest for the last two weeks. Despite all that, after a mere forty-five minutes of pushing, my daughter took her first breath, and within minutes of her birth, she latched onto my breast. Her cord hadn't even been cut. I feel truly blessed that I was able to experience that miracle at least once.
It didn't happen the second time.
When her brother was born, the labor wasn't as long or as painful, but he became stuck as he attempted to make his way into the world. Seventeen hours after labor started, I laid in the OR, the anesthesiologist ramped the dose of my epidural, the nurses strapped my arms to a table and draped warming blankets over my extremities, and my husband updated our friends and family while he waited for the surgery to start. I was lucky to be awake and hear my baby cry. I saw his little face and remarked how much he looked like his sister. But I didn't get to nurse him, to snuggle him, to tell him I was his mommy and whisper words of love in those moments the way I had with his sister. They whisked him away with his father to do all the new baby stuff, while they sterilized me and stitched me together again. He was born at 10:20 pm and it was after midnight before I was able to nurse him, to feel his little fingers curl around mine.
Maybe that's why I let him nurse until he was over two years old.
With both my children, I let them dictate when they were ready to stop nursing. His sister stopped on her own when I became pregnant with him. She was a day shy of 14 months. I cherish every day we had nursing together, even the tough ones. She'd hold my breast with her little hand as she fed and later, once she'd stopped, she would hold my cheek as she fell asleep, needing that closeness we'd shared since the moment she was born. Even now, two days before her eighth birthday, if she can't sleep, she needs me to cuddle her, to rub her back like I did when I nursed her. Our nursing time was more brief, but it was still a bond I would never trade for anything.
It was different with my son. I was a pro by then. I hadn't nursed a baby in eight months, but you don't forget how. My milk came in before we left the hospital. He was a champion sleeper and an excellent feeder. But I suffered post-partum depression with him. Honestly, I credit nursing him with keeping me together and helping me through it all. This post isn't about PPD, but I know breastfeeding helped me through that in ways I can't explain to anyone who hasn't experienced the same thing. There is something about the connection between a mother and child while nursing that binds you to each other. Yes, its biological, but it's also emotional and spiritual. At that time, I needed our bond more than anything else. We made up for that lack of the initial first few minutes through over two years of nursing. For all the differences - more night nursing, a refusal to eat solids before eight months old, being tethered as the 'momma binky' for much longer than expected -I know one thing is the same: nursing cemented the unconditional love between me and each of my children.
I personally believe that breast is best for a variety of reasons - boosting immunity, bonding, reduction in postpartum depression incidents. Nevertheless, I don't judge if someone doesn't choose or can't breastfeed. Like all things related to a woman's body, it's an individual decision I can't make for another. My husband made it possible for me to stay home with my children, so nursing was never difficult for me to accomplish, but I'm also fortunate to live in a state where laws require employers to facilitate breastfeeding for working moms. Rest assured that if you live in Maine, you're protected under the law if you need to pump while at work.
I always advocate for nursing if you can and want to do so. In my local area, there are support groups at all of the hospitals, including The La Leche League and mother/child groups. For low-income families, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a great resource and they encourage nursing, as well as offer support. Here are some useful links, though it's by no means exhaustive. Many of them have additional information included.
Breastfeeding Support in Maine
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Sponsored by the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, the blog hop is intended to celebrate breastfeeding, educate and encourage new moms to nurse their babies. Join those of us on the hop as we spread the word during National Breastfeeding Month!
Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County http://healthystartsarasota.
Doy Your Best Sanctuary [DYBS] https://doyourbestsanctuary.
Butterfly Birth http://www.butterflybirth.com/