How I learned to love breastfeeding
Despite being in the midst of my training as an obstetrician/gynecologist when I found out I was pregnant, I did what I thought any first-time mom-to-be should do and enrolled my husband and I in a breastfeeding education class. My husband (who was a pediatrics resident at the time) made me aware before we attended the class that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommended exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continuing to nurse for 12 months or longer. The class echoed this advice.
I thought he (and the class teacher, and everyone at those esteemed medical institutions who made those recommendations) was nuts.
I couldn’t understand how I could possibly successfully breastfeed with my work schedule, where some weeks I was in the hospital for 80 hours at a time. I wasn’t sure how I could carry a child for 40 weeks and then still have to share my body with another person long after that. And when was I going to sleep?!
But I prepared how I thought I should: I went to the class, I read the books, I bought a Boppy. I purchased a pump and bottles and tried to understand how they all worked. I had a few friends who were nursing their babies, but I honestly didn’t seek their support before I delivered because I had no idea what to ask.
As my pregnancy progressed, I promised my husband I would try. I said I knew I could get to 6 weeks, but after that—which was when I was scheduled to return to work—all bets were off. Maybe I could do it, maybe I couldn’t. I really didn’t think much of it. My husband supported my decision and said he would do what he could to help.
And then I had my son, who was a champion nurser. Sure, we had some initial bumps in the road that I think most first-time moms experience, but I met a wonderful lactation consultant who believed in me so much that I really started to think I could this whole working-and-pumping thing. I loved the bond that breastfeeding created, and it gave me a type of confidence in interpreting my baby’s cues that I never knew existed.
I went from saying I would try to breastfeed to being determined to make it to 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. Even though I was tired, I loved the nighttime feedings that let me reconnect with my son after a long day apart. Soon I set my goal to a year, and once we hit that mark, I didn’t plan a time to wean and just followed my son’s lead.
I think back to how much my perspective had changed, and mostly it was because I had a supportive partner, a supportive lactation consultant, educational resources, and fellow mothers who were a wealth of knowledge once I asked. And really, it changed because I kept an open mind and found I really enjoyed the experience—much to my surprise! In fact, I loved it so much it motivated me to seek my certification as an IBCLC so I could help other moms have the success that I did.
So if you are like me and kind of on the fence about the whole breastfeeding thing, why not see where it takes you? Build up your knowledge, your resources, and your support. You might just be surprised.