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!
This is part 2 of a 4-part series on breastfeeding. Click here to read part 1!
Every Woman’s Breastfeeding Journey Is Unique
In my last post, I shared with you my arduous and emotional breastfeeding journey with my first son. Now I would like to share some crucial things I have learned about breastfeeding along the way.
In preparation for this series, I asked a wide range of women about their own breastfeeding experiences. I was completely blown away by the response as comments kept flowing in with women sharing their victories, failures, and the broad range of emotions that comprised their experiences. What started out as some simple questions to help me understand breastfeeding beyond my own experience ended up completely changing my perspective on the subject.
Why Not Every Woman Can Breastfeed Her Baby
I have come to understand that not every woman can breastfeed her child. We live in a fallen world where imperfections and disappointments abound. We can give something all of our effort and still it won’t always turn out the way we had hoped for.
Breastfeeding is not always an option. This could be because of the health of mama or baby. It could be the unfortunate outcome of a difficult delivery or time in the NICU. Or it could be because a child came into a home through adoption, in which case something far, far greater than breast milk has been given—those babies have been given a family.
We Are Throwing In The Towel Too Soon, Mamas…
Although there are some valid reasons that a mother cannot nurse her baby, I also believe that far too many of us are throwing in the towel too soon. In many cases, the choice to begin supplementing with formula is the culmination of a very stressful, emotional road, oftentimes drenched with feelings of failure, insufficiency, rejection, and helplessness. Maybe You have felt some of these.
Many times the choice to stop breastfeeding is not a choice at all. Latching problems, milk allergies, mama or baby falling ill; all of these contribute to breastfeeding dreams going unrealized. I am finding that in the majority of cases, breastfeeding ends long before a mama had hoped. In fact, of the 23 women who shared their breastfeeding stories with me in preparation for writing this blog, 65% of them did not meet their breastfeeding goals with one or more of their babies. And for those mamas who do reach their breastfeeding goals, it has often been a difficult road with many obstacles and complications along the way.
I don’t fully understand the broad range of issues that come into play for some breastfeeding moms. I am not an expert. But perhaps you don’t need another expert; maybe you just need another mom, one who has been there in the thick of breastfeeding—and that is one thing I am. I am a mom who had to give up breastfeeding my son sooner than I had planned, and through that experience I have learned a few things about bettering my chances at breastfeeding success.
What Are The Prominent Reasons Women Stop Breastfeeding?
As women shared their stories with me, I began to notice two main reasons women give up on breastfeeding:
- There baby has difficulty latching
- They are not producing enough milk for their baby’s needs
Mamas—there is hope. Whether:
- your baby has trouble latching, and you decide to pump milk in the interim to guarantee your baby receives only your milk
- you work out of the home, and plan to pump exclusively in order to give baby only your milk
- or if you are having difficulty producing enough milk to meet your baby’s growing appetite
Understanding how to increase or maintain enough breast milk is essential to breastfeeding success in each of these situations.
How Does Breastfeeding Benefit a Mom?
Understanding is only the first step. When we put knowledge into action and do what we can to support our breast milk supply, it is not only our babies who benefit (as I outlined in part 1), but ourselves as well. Here are just some of the benefits a mother reaps from breast feeding her child:
- Decreased risk of post-partum depression
- Decreased risk of ovarian or breast cancer
- Breastfeeding forces you to stop the frenzy rush of a day, relax, and enjoy your baby
- Releases the relaxation hormone oxytocin (which in turn encourages better milk supply, eating oats also produces this hormone)
- Often helps mom lose the “baby weight”
- Saves time and money over formula feeding (numbers vary, but a year of formula feeding will easily cost more than $1,000)
Is It Possible To Always Have Enough Breast Milk?
Through making some simple yet game-changing adjustments in my lifestyle and diet, I have had a beautiful breastfeeding journey with my second son. He is going on nine months old and still breastfeeding strong. Perhaps the greatest victory we have had is that not once—no not even one time—have I been concerned about my milk supply. There has always been enough, this has been unbelievably freeing.
I cannot guarantee breastfeeding success for any woman. What I can do is share with you some very vital information and practices I have used to increase and maintain a sufficient and healthy supply of breast milk.
Whether this is your first time breastfeeding or your sixth, I challenge you to give this your best shot. As I share over my next two posts what I have learned, I challenge you to gather knowledge and put it to use, do everything in your power to give your baby your own milk. And then, after you give it your all, if it still doesn’t work—offer yourself some grace. After all, you gave it your best shot, and that is what love looks like. Stick with me, ladies; and let’s give this endeavor all that we’ve got!
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