Hey Mama, thanks so much for reading! I just wanted to take a second to say that even though I support breastfeeding whole heartedly, I also totally love that science has given us formula and it is an equally amazing way to feed you baby. Whether you chose to breastfeed or formula feed, all that matters is that you are giving your baby the best nutrition for him! Keep up the good work mama, you got this!
Oooh cheese. How I love thee. These past 12 months have been empty without it. I miss the ooey-gooey goodness it adds to just about everything and that it makes basically everything taste better. It works with any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. Giving up cheese (and dairy) for breastfeeding has both sucked and been rewarding in its own way.
Breastfeeding is a lot of things. It can be magical and beautiful, but can also be painful and gut wrenchingly hard (often both at the same time). For some women it’s an easy journey, for others it’s a struggle. It’s not a one size fits all but it can be such a beautiful thing. Today I’m going to share a little about my breastfeeding story:
Photo by Stacie Bozer Photography
First comes love…
I had a couple friends who breastfed their babies before I had Archer (Michelle, Lorraine, Crystal – I’m looking at you guys) so I knew it was something I wanted to do. I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect, but my sweet friend Crystal gave me a heart to heart – while she loved it, she also filled me in on how much it hurts and opened my eyes to the sheer number of hours she spent nursing her little guy. My mama friends filled me in on things like cracked and bleeding nipples, supply problems, and mastitis.
Those first few moments in the hospital trying to get Archer to latch and having him lay on my chest were so incredibly sweet, in fact I will treasure those memories forever. Then, that first night is the real eye opener. The nurses come in to wake you up so you can feed your baby every few hours…the harsh reality sets in. On top of the initial pain of the break in period, our first 3 months were spent nursing with a nipple shield, then I battled reoccurring cases of mastitis – so frequently that I had a go-to protocol to get through it as quickly as I could. After those early months, the rest was pretty smooth sailing. I breastfed Archer for 20 months and I wouldn’t take back a single moment.
From 3 weeks of age and on, I was an avid attendee of a breastfeeding support group . That breastfeeding group was hands down the best thing I did to start my motherhood journey on the right foot. I made countless mama friends and was also introduced to a new moms MeetUp group – a group that is now the core of most of my friendship connections. In a weird way I guess I have breastfeeding to thank for all my mama friends.
Photo by Stacie Bozer Phtotography
Next Comes Heartbreak?
When I had Ayla I felt like I knew what to expect. I tried my best to remind myself how much it hurts, but I was still a little caught off guard. We started off with a nipple shield again – this time I was basically a pro with it. Breastfeeding was going well, but my sweet little girl was fussy and gassy beyond belief. At our 4 week check up at the pediatrician, she suggested I eliminate dairy from my diet to see if it helped. As pathetic as it sounds, I was heartbroken. Give up my beloved cheese and butter? The thought seemed impossible. I was the girl who once pulled out a pound of butter from her purse, the girl who browsed the cheese section at Whole Foods for fun.
The early days of dairy-free were hard. As someone who lives for food, I was sad I couldn’t enjoy my favorites. But that food-loving spirit is also what has helped me push through – it has been interesting (and dare I say fun?) to find ways to make great food without dairy. Now her intolerance is really mind and we are starting to introduce delicious delicious cheese (and butter) into her diet and mine.
While it hasn’t all been rainbows and sunshine, my breastfeeding journey has been something so near and dear to my heart. I am thankful for every drop of milk I’ve been able to give to my babies.