A guest post by Alyssa Laughlin.
A year ago, I began a journey into motherhood. Trust me: It has made me greatly appreciate my mother and grandmother. In fact, I gained a higher respect for mothers in general whether they impacted my life or not. As a first-time mother, though, it is so hard in today’s society to feel like you are doing right by your child. When I gave birth to my son, Julian, in the hospital, the nurses encouraged me to breastfeed. I knew I would give it a try and if it didn’t work out I wouldn’t be upset. Well, it worked out beautifully and I am still nursing him today.
I can’t say it was easy, but it has been well worth it. At about six months, I reached a crossroad with it. I wanted to keep breastfeeding, but the doctor said my son wasn’t gaining enough weight compared to other children in his demographic. (Not to mention Julian was starting to get teeth, which for a first time mom seems like a terrifying idea!) On top of all of that, I was working again, so I felt like maybe it was time to end the journey of being a breastfeeding mom. I sought out support via Facebook. Luckily, I found a group page that some of you may or may not be familiar with: The Leaky B@@b.
The Leaky B@@b is a community of women of all ages with all types of breastfeeding questions. I have since found out many great tips for increasing my milk supply. For me, drinking plenty of water throughout the day and taking fenugreek helped drastically. Now when I say that worked for me, it may not work for you, so that’s the great thing about this group page, which has the feeling of a very supportive community. The great thing about this community is that you get tons of different answers and stories. Trust me, you are not alone in this breastfeeding journey. I thought I was for a bit until these women – complete strangers – started sharing their experiences with me.
One amazing thing that I learned from them, after posting a question about my son not meeting my doctor’s “ideal weight,” is that there are two different charts! One is for formula-fed babies, and the other is for breastfed babies. Knowing this made me feel better. That alone encouraged me to keep going. Plus, after I posted, I found out that many more of my friends (who are moms) breastfeeding than I thought. I can’t thank my friends Danielle and Summer enough. They were the two major supporters in swaying my decision to continue down this road.
I have been so blessed to not have many troubles with nursing my son, but I know for some women that is not the case. Some women can’t nurse and that is OK! I know women in my life who have tried and made it only a few days or a few weeks or their milk never came in, but they tried! Don’t let the stress of pumping milk only to come up with 2 oz. of milk discourage you!
For a while, I saw this product floating around that was called ‘Milk Screen’ which as a first time mom. I would’ve fallen for had I not been a part of the The Leaky B@@b community. The amount of milk pumped does not tell you the amount of milk your baby is actually getting! No product will ever be able to truly tell you how much milk your child is getting while you nurse them, unless you supplement a feeding with a pre-pumped bottle and you know they are getting that number of ounces.
Lately, I feel like the media have created a mix of ideas on the subject of breastfeeding. As a society, I feel like we need to encourage it and encourage other mothers. I have yet to be discouraged from nursing in public by any business, but I have heard heartbreaking stories of mothers who have been. I think this is because of improper education on the matter of breastfeeding.
Companies are quick to say sex sells and plaster a woman in a bikini to sell just about everything under the sun. Put a women at a table nursing her child, and it’s improper. It’s sad, but it happens. Other than spreading knowledge on the subject, there isn’t much more I feel like I can do. Also, just because I am pro-breastfeeding does not mean I am anti-formula. My son is formula-fed when I cannot produce enough milk to pre-pump. Raising a child is not about being right or wrong, but about raising your child to be instilled with knowledge and confidence.
If I leave you with anything, I hope it is this: The most important thing you are doing is raising a child to be as healthy as possible. Do not be discouraged! You are amazing and beautiful! Do not feel defeated when you can no longer continue on the journey of breastfeeding. It is OK! The most important thing is that your child flourishes, and I know that he or she will because you are above all else an amazing mother! Do not let society or anyone else tell you otherwise! If you want to be a great mother, simply surround yourself with other mothers who have the same interest at heart. I have faith in you that this will never be a problem.
About the author:
Alyssa is a first time mother. She lives in Overland Park, KS, with her boyfriend Eddie and son Julian. They love anything dealing with music and marching bands. She runs a blog called The Adventures of Mama Bear, where she writes about her parenting journey. You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest.