Learned While Breastfeeding

 

I enjoy helping moms with managing their children’s behaviors.  But my blog is taking a bit of a turn to reflect where I currently am in my own life.  So as a mommy who is currently breastfeeding (and weaning), I was excited for this guest post.  This post comes to us from Danielle Miller of A Woman of Virtue.  She’s breastfed not one, but three babies!  Thanks so much for this insightful post, Danielle!

 

6 Things I Learned While Breastfeeding 3 Babies

When my son was first born, it was a culture shock to say the least.

I thought I was ready to be a mother when I was. Oh. So. Not.

Actually, I take that back.

Who is ever ready for all parenthood entails?  Motherhood is something that you just need to do… make mistakes, learn as you go, get better day by day.

Wouldn’t you agree?

So maybe I was ready.

Before I was a mother, I thought breastfeeding and I were going to live happily ever after.  I believed the myth that it comes naturally and is easy.  Maybe for some it is that way, but for me it wasn’t.

I was determined more than ever to make breastfeeding work.  But shortly after my son was born, I quickly learned that it wasn’t all like it was portrayed.  And for me, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Bonding may come naturally, but breastfeeding DOES NOT!

Well, not for me anyway.

It takes work.  And not just work, but hard work!

I cannot even recall how many times I dug my heels in, convinced myself that I was doing something wrong, sought help and read every article I could get my hands on.  Pretty much on a daily basis.  I was utterly fixated!

Now two babies later and as good an expert as I expect I will ever be, I can look back at my breastfeeding journey over the course of three babies and see the valuable lessons it had to offer.  Oddly enough, none of the articles I read about breastfeeding made it come more naturally to me.

I suspect that the only thing that did was practice.  And surprisingly, I believe that not having the time to fixate on it is what has helped me the most.  With three little kids, the oldest being three-years-old, and the youngest ten-months-old, I don’t have time to wonder how to boost my milk supply.
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To be honest, I don’t think passed the current feeding my daughter and I are on.  And I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Join me as I share with you the lessons I have learned from breastfeeding my son to two years later, now breastfeeding my second daughter.

1. As a new mother, it showed me how impatient I was.

Up until having children, I was never unable to do what I wanted to do.

Huge culture shock!

Having babies reminds you that you are not number one.  If you have multiple children, you know as a mother that you aren’t even number two, perhaps even further down the list.

I was ready for motherhood and wanted it more than anything, but I had no idea how selfish and impatient I was.

In fact, before having children, I thought I was a pretty good person.

After my son was born, I realized I am so not the pretty good person I thought I was.

Next to the couch that was layered with blankets because of the constant throw up my son projected after each feeding, I decided to put my Bible.  I thought I could use this time to get closer to the Lord.  Yeah, that wasn’t happening either.  My poor little boy fussed and fussed and couldn’t get it right.  The last thing I wanted to do was read my Bible when I felt like the scum of the earth.

The more he fussed, the more impatient I got.

I tried everything… from changing my diet to changing my diet again.  And in the end, my son ended up needing the very expensive Gerber Soothe formula.

Worked like a charm, but broke my heart into a million pieces.

2. Breastfeeding showed me how hard it is.

Like I mentioned earlier, maybe breastfeeding comes naturally to some mothers.  And when I say naturally, I don’t mean anything to do with bonding.  I believe bonding comes naturally, but the technical side of breastfeeding might not.  I’m guessing (not based on any statistics) that the majority of mothers struggled with the technicalities of breastfeeding such as positioning, cluster-feedings, and so on and so forth.

It doesn’t just take work, it takes hard work and an abundance of patience, which I didn’t have as a new mother.

3. Breastfeeding taught me that there is really nothing that I control.

By the time my first daughter came around, my son was 13-months-old, and breastfeeding went well with her for the first two or so months.  Then my daughter lost a ton of weight, which I discovered through my mom who hadn’t seen her in a few days.  I thought she was sick with a cold, but it turned out she wasn’t getting enough to eat.

Yes, me, her mother didn’t know that!

If you’re a new mother or even a second-time mother and miss obvious things that you think you should know, don’t feel alone and please don’t beat yourself up, girl! I was so there!

There I was again digging my heals in, telling myself and Elizabeth that breastfeeding was destined to work.  Little did I know I was starving my little one, and she had grown so weak that she couldn’t even let me know.

Lesson learned.  Breastfeeding is out of my control.  The enormous amounts of water that I drank didn’t mean squat.  Maybe my rollercoaster emotions did, but at that point, it really didn’t matter what worked and what didn’t.  All that mattered was that my daughter needed to start eating.  My main goal then became getting her fed, and I watched in sadness as she transitioned happily onto formula (thankfully not the expensive stuff my son needed) and gained back any weight she had lost.

Fact of the matter was that I was still trying to control breastfeeding.  I was still reading every article I could find time to read, was constantly changing my diet, drinking enormous amounts of water, and for some reason it didn’t work for us.

At the time I had no idea why, but now I do.

4. That it is ok if it doesn’t work out.

You might be saying that this has nothing to do with breastfeeding, but for me it did.

I was so upset that my daughter had to go on formula.  And if there is any other mother out there who is having a terrible time dealing with formula, listen to what I have to say here!  Just because you can’t cook your children a home-cooked meal doesn’t mean you would let them starve.  Think of breastmilk as a homemade meal, and formula a hot dish that you threw together.  No, you didn’t make the ingredients per say, but they are nutrition for your children.

Thinking of it that way helped me enormously.
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5. Breastfeeding taught me how to slow down and cherish the moments I have with my children.

I’m sad to admit that this wasn’t in the forefront of my mind while nursing or trying to nurse my first two children.  But now on my third, I realize that any amount of time spent with my baby, whether breastfeeding or holding a bottle, is time well spent.

Back when I was trying to nurse my son and he couldn’t get it figured out… fussing, squirming, and projecting the entire time, eventually loving his Gerber (“Smooth,” my husband says and laughs)…it was still time well spent.  We were together.

With my daughter clinging to me those first few months and then eventually her bottle of formula, we were together, loving each other… Although, I now realize I was focused more on the fact that it wasn’t breastmilk that she was getting.

And now as I cradle and tickle my infant while breastfeeding her…it is ideal but no better than the above two scenarios.

Togetherness is bonding in whatever form it is.

6. The more I breastfeed, the better we both get at it, and it’s the only thing that will boost milk supply.

Now a seasoned breastfeeder (I would say anyway, compared to my first two children), enduring all those on-demand cluster-feedings was the only thing that got me to where I am now.  And it’s my No. 1 piece of advice for new mothers looking to nurse full-time.

Babies cluster-feed at different times as they go in and out of growth spurts, and this so goes with my No. 1 of realizing how impatient I was.  Although I’m a world and a half better, I’m still the same impatient girl that I was.

For the first 2-4 weeks after my second daughter was born, I literally did not leave the house.  Which drove me insane.  I NEEDED TO GET OUT but needed to make myself more available to my daughter, who was still figuring out how to nurse.

Now 10-months-old, I think she is going into another growth spurt because she is waking two times a night to eat.  Just go with it mamma, and know that it won’t last forever!  Now No. 5 makes its debut as I’m reminded each and every time I grow impatient that my daughter isn’t going to need me forever like she does now.  The very thought of that reminds me to slow down and study and love her in ways that I won’t be able to much longer.

 

The life lessons that breastfeeding has to offer are innumerable.  And I suspect and know there are many more than I’ve listed here.  With 100% certainty, I can say that breastfeeding has made me a better person because it showed me things within myself that I didn’t like and therefore could work to change, but also how to slow down and smell the roses of having an infant cling to and need me.

As always, you are a woman to be praised for all that you do, your price far above rubies!

 

 

 

Danielle Miller - A Woman of Virtue

My passion in life is that of servanthood to both my husband and my children, but also to inspire and motivate the weary mamma.  Only God knows what we women do after we become wives and mommies, and I am here either to remind you or tell you for the first time, that you have value unmatched in every way and you are a woman to be praised for everything you do!

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