A Year of Breastfeeding
Before Liam was born I was gung-ho about breastfeeding for one full year. I was really excited about it and thought it would be a fantastic experience. Well, it wasn't, not at first anyway. It didn't take long for pain to set in. My nipples were sore all the time, my breasts were engorged and I often got plugged milk ducts. There was even one instance in which a tiny newborn Liam (with no teeth!) bit me and I bled. For months things didn't get better, but like I said, I was determined. I did everything I could to keep breastfeeding going. I saw lactation consultants, went to support groups, and asked questions about breastfeeding to fellow mamas. I was staring to lose hope around the 4 or 5 month mark and decided maybe I should just quit once Liam turned six months. I was sad, but I just couldn't take it anymore. And that's when things got better! All of the sudden it didn't hurt anymore. I guess it just took my body a little longer to adjust to the changes. I was overjoyed. At six months we started feeding Liam solid foods and soon his naps became more regular and he started going longer between feedings. And things got even easier. I knew I wouldn't be quitting any time soon and that made me really happy that I would be able to stick to my goal of breastfeeding for one year. And here we are. We have started the weaning process but I don't think we will be fully stopping just yet. I'm just going to go with the flow and take note of Liam's cues.
I have to say that I am incredibly proud of the fact that we have breastfed for this long. It wasn't easy! There are so many times I wanted to and could have quit, so many times when I wistfully stared at the formula aisle in the grocery store. But I didn't. I kept going. I did it for my baby, because I knew it was the best nutrition I could provide for him. And hey, it's free! I am happy and proud that I have breastfed Liam straight from the tap for almost every feeding (I think he has had a bottle less than ten times in his whole life, after a while he just started rejecting them). I sometimes keep quiet about how happy and proud I am about our breastfeeding journey because I don't want to offend formula-feeding moms. I know women quit breastfeeding for many reasons, and that's fine, you have to do what's best for your family...but that doesn't mean I can't be proud of our accomplishment and shout it from the rooftops! And I think more moms need to hear it from someone who has been there. It is possible to exclusively breastfeed your baby for a year or more. It is possible to never give your baby formula if you don't want to. There may be many obstacles in your way (I know many women who have endured much more than I have and kept going!) or you may have an easier time with it (I also know many women who breadtfed with zero complications from day one), but if you are determined, you can do it.
It also helped that I had a lot of support. It really helped when I joined a breastfeeding support group because I finally met some like-minded women who were exclusively breastfeeding their babies. My husband was a great support to me as well. I'm just thankful that we were able to overcome all the hardships and get to a place where breastfeeding became enjoyable and an amazing bonding experience. It's been a huge blessing in my life and in Liam's life as well.