Hi everyone! I am honored to have with us today Eryn Lynum from From Famine to Foodie. Eryn is doing a 4 post series this week on breastfeeding.
As many of you already know, breast milk is best for a newborn. But sometimes it can be really challenging to breast feed.
Eryn is here to share her breastfeeding story with us and to give us helpful guidance through this journey. I will let Eryn take it from here!
My Son Was Silent When He Was Born
My first son was born in July of 2011. He was silent as he emerged from my womb. Looking back I can vaguely remember the doctor rubbing his back—hard–and encouraging him, “Come on, buddy…” The fear of the moment didn’t register to me. I knew he was alright, and my knowledge was confirmed as he coughed and let out his first cry. I watched as the doctor wiped Ezekiel off, and took careful steps closer to me—steps I had anticipated now for 9 months—and laid my son into my arms for the first time. The feeling of his flesh against my own was so…foreign…yet so completely right.
For a few moments I just held him close and studied him, not sure what else to do. Then the nurse told me I could feed him. Her suggestion bore in me an entirely new feeling, one I can only describe as a mix of pride and apprehension. I knew this was my job now, my calling; only I could do it, but I had never done it before.
As I nursed my newborn son in those first moments, everything aligned into place. Here he was after such a long wait; my whole life in waiting, really. He mine, and I his; nursing him confirmed that deep within my soul.
Why I Chose to Breastfeed my Son for a Year
I was a first time mom. And I, like most other first timers, upon seeing that faint-yet-definitely-there plus sign on the pregnancy stick, dove head first into reading books, magazines, and blogs, preparing myself to be the perfect mama to this child. In my reading I had become completely convinced of the benefits of breastfeeding. I understood that breastfeeding was the best choice for me and my baby. I knew the benefits and advantages it would offer my baby, benefits such as:
- Breast milk is baby’s perfect meal, a sublime mix of proteins, vitamins, and fats
- Breast milk contains antibodies which help babies fight off viruses and unhealthy bacteria
- Lowers a baby’s risk for asthma, allergies, meningitis, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and diarrhea
- Helps prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Promotes steady, healthy weight gain as a baby and throughout life
- Less likely to become obese later in life (a person who was breastfed burns fat differently than a person who was not breastfed)
- Fosters feelings of security
These are just some of the reasons I chose to breastfeed my son exclusively for the first year of his life.
But Then I Got Very Sick
My plan for a year of breastfeeding was sailing along quite smoothly…for the first 5 months. But then I got sick. A bout with the flu, mixed with my preexisting chronic illness (Addison’s disease), landed me in the emergency room, where I was quickly admitted to the hospital. Because of the medications I was administered, I could not let Ezekiel have any of my milk for 3 days. He quickly ate his way through our stockpile of breast milk in the freezer, and even though I religiously pumped my milk for those three days (and mourned a great loss as I poured that milk down the sink), my supply never recovered. Ezekiel was still able to nurse, but with my now insufficient supply of breast milk, we were forced to begin supplementing with formula.
Watching Ezekiel take his first sips of formula was heart wrenching. I had wanted so badly to nurse him exclusively for a year. What little supply of breast milk I had left slowly waned, and by the time Ezekiel was 9 months old my milk completely dried up and he was eating formula exclusively. Weaning Zeke was a terribly difficult and emotional thing for me to do, mostly because it was not my choice. It took me a long time to let go of my idealistic goals, and the feelings of guilt. I felt like a failure as his mother, unable to give him what I knew was best for him. I felt helpless. Maybe you have too.
Do You Want To Give Breastfeeding Your Best Shot?
Maybe your story is like mine. Maybe you set out to be the very best mama you could be and do everything just right—including giving your baby only the best, only your milk. And maybe that didn’t go quite as you had planned. Or perhaps you are one of those first time mamas, right now your hand resting upon your swollen abdomen, feeling those tiny flutters and kicks, and you want only the best for this child you’ve yet to meet but love so unbearably much.
Over my next few posts, I want to share with you the rest of my breastfeeding story. You see– I got another chance. I have grown, and I no longer view my breastfeeding experience with Ezekiel as a failure. He is healthy and loved. But I am also thankful that my breastfeeding experience has been different with my second son. I am seeing firsthand how some simple changes in diet, perspective, and lifestyle can enable me, and many other mamas out there, to continue breastfeeding exclusively for a year (or beyond) by maintaining a healthy supply of breast milk.
I have seen both sides, and each of them has taught me some important lessons in breastfeeding. So, mama, what about you? Do you want to give this thing your best shot?
This is part 1 of a 4-part series on breastfeeding.
In the meantime, click here to head over to my blog, From Famine to Foodie, and read more of my story – From Anorexia to Food Enthusiast!
Real Food, Nina Planck, 2007
Deep Nutrition, Catherin Shanahan MD, 2008