Monday, October 24, 2011

Breastfeeding Story - A Wonderful Journey

My Breastfeeding Story - A Wonderful Journey

My experience as a breastfeeding mom would be akin to hiking in a new country and discovering an exciting adventure that was challenging at the start but enjoyable throughout. I’ve been on this journey for 55 months now, only taking a break of about 6 months from the time I weaned my son at age 2 until I delivered my daughter. It has been a pleasant journey I would say, with hardly any problems encountered along the way. There were a few ‘blisters’ in the beginning from the use of ‘new hiking shoes’ and a few painful encounters of the engorgement kind. But, overall, a wonderful bonding journey with my babies.

I am going to share how I prepared for this journey and what has helped me to keep going.

1. Breastfeeding 101

Just like how you’d research and read up on a travel destination before embarking on a vacation, the same goes for breastfeeding. Get as much information as you can from books, parenting sites, family and friends who have experience in breastfeeding. In my first month of breastfeeding, I hit the books and reading materials again to see if my baby was latching on correctly, to know when my milk should start to turn white, how to relieve engorgements and treat cracked nipples and to be sure that my baby was getting enough milk.

2. Think Positive

The moment I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I had already psyched myself up to breastfeed him. Before you go on a trip, don’t you envision yourself enjoying the holiday? This is what I kept telling myself throughout my pregnancy:

“I am going to breastfeed my baby. He is not going to drink anything except my milk. And I am going to have enough for him.”

A major motivation factor for me was also the successful breastfeeding stories of friends which drove me to believe that if they can do it, I can definitely do it too.

3. Set Goals

Before you visit a place for the first time, you would have an idea of what you’d like to do and the sights you’d like to see. Well, just like breastfeeding, especially when it’s a first time, you’d like to set yourself some goals. Setting goals will motivate you and give you a sense of achievement once you’ve accomplished them. For me it was the breastfeeding guideline on how long you should breastfeed your baby – exclusively for the first 6 months until age 2. Well, I stuck to the guideline too rigidly and weaned my son exactly at age 2. Partly also because I was already pregnant with my daughter at that time and I thought it would be challenging to handle 2 clingy kids. On top of that, I had no idea what tandem nursing was and did not consider doing that at all. I might have gone on to tandem nurse both my children if I had to do it all over again...maybe.

4. Perseverance

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know of a friend who had mastitis at least 3 times during the course of breastfeeding her first child. I don’t know how she did it but she persevered and successfully breastfed her son till he was close to 2. Now that’s what I call perseverance. I don’t know if I would have been able to handle it all if I were in her shoes but I certainly look up to her as a perfect example of endurance.

5. Nix the Naysayers

“Your baby’s not getting enough milk that’s why he’s constantly crying”

“You should probably give him a little formula milk so he’ll sleep better in the night”

“Are you sure you’ve got enough milk for your baby, how come nothing much’s coming out when you pump?”

“It’s okay to give the baby a little water, most mothers do that. Takes away the heatiness”

“Asking for milk again? See, your baby’s not getting enough. He’s hungry again”

These are just some of the things that were said to me in the first month of breastfeeding my first child. It was difficult and discouraging to hear things like these, especially when you’re a new mother trying your darned best to cope with a new baby. But, back to No.4, don’t let them get you down. I remembered checking on the books to see how I can tell if my baby was getting enough milk and that was to see how often he is wetting his diapers. So, I reassured myself and nixed the naysayers.

These 5 points have worked for me especially when I was a first-time breastfeeding mom. When I had my second child, breastfeeding was a breeze. She was a pro in latching-on and I hardly had any difficulties breastfeeding her, except for maybe 2 occasions of a slightly engorged breast. The thing about an engorged breast is that the only way I’ve found effective enough to relieve that is your own baby nursing on it. The tip is to try different positions of nursing your baby while massaging your breast. No amount of cabbage or hot compresses can beat that.

I’d like to add though, that you shouldn’t give yourself a hard time if you haven’t been able to breastfeed your baby. Circumstances are different for everyone and no two breasts are the same – not even on a single person. Take comfort in knowing that you’ve tried your best and that you’ve given it all you could. At the end of the day, all your baby needs is a lot of TLC.

I am fortunate enough to have had it easy with breastfeeding. I can’t thank God enough for that.

It has been a wonderful journey for me.

Germaine blogs at You can read more about her wonderful Motherhood experience and Breastfeeding stories at her blog. Thank you Germaine, for sharing your wonderful and inspiring breastfeeding story especially those useful tips. I like tip No 5 on how to Nix those Naysayers. 

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  1. Wow. That was fast! Haha! I didn't expect it to be published so soon :)

    Thanks for having me over and sharing your blog space with me :)

  2. Good pOst Germaine! Was supposed to write mine, but haven't done so yet., Lotsa good tips. :)

  3. SOund breastfeeding advice!
    I went back to work 3 months post delivery. Tips 4,5 and not being to hard on myself are what kept me and the milk flowing and going, hehe =)
    Like you, my breastfeeding journey had been wonderful.

  4. Breastfeeding is indeed a good thing, and I can't agree more that we need to persevere and keep confident and positive. Of course, the negative words sometimes get to me, but I tried not to let it linger in my heart and eat me up inside. Great post, Germaine. :)

  5. Wonderful tips, Germaine. I basically followed my own instincts with breastfeeding, and I'm very fortunate to not have had issues with supply. I did have the sore, cracked nipples, engorged breasts etc - but all worth it in the end!

  6. @Martha: Thank you! Can't wait to read yours.

    @Janie: I think it's even more challenging for working moms to breastfeed. My hat's off to you Janie, and glad your breastfeeding journey was as joyful as mine :)

    @June: With all the negative words thrown at me - it's been in one ear and out the other! Thank you June!

    @Alison: Thank you! I think the sore nipples and breasts are common issues with first-timers. Yes, definitely worth it! :)

  7. Wonderful and very encouraging tips Germaine. I think so many woman are thrown for a loop when they discover breastfeeding is not as easy/natural as they thought it would be. This would definitely help all moms to be. Awesome job!

  8. Great article and I really admire you Germaine. If only I equipped myself with all these tips when I was pregnant. A wonderful tip for all moms who plan to breastfeed :)

  9. Germaine what a great post! I especially loved the part about the naysayers...people think that they only reason a baby cries is b/c they are hungry. LOL but babies are just being babies! I can't tell you how much I used to hear that...I'm like he's not hungry! Or give him cereal and he'll sleep through the night. All myths! My baby slept through the night, and he was exclusively breastfed. I'm glad you enjoyed the experience!

  10. Love this. I was blessed too and never had troubles, followed my instincts. Wonderful post Germaine.

  11. @Leslie: Thanks friend! Oh yes, I've heard so many stories from family and friends that they didn't expect breastfeeding to be SO challenging. That's why I feel so blessed.

    @Barbara: Thanks Barb! Perhaps you'll get a second chance at it? ;)

    @Natalie: Thanks for coming by Natalie! Don't you just hate it when they say those things! Nice to know you breastfed Nolan exclusively too! :)

    @Stasha: So glad you had it easy with it too. And following your instincts is so important. Thanks for popping over Stasha! :)

  12. Excellent post Germaine! I haven't always been the most positive with breastfeeding. It was so painful to feed my last child for the first few months, but I was grateful I persevered.

  13. Happy to hear that it has gone so well for you, Germaine. It can really be a wonderful opportunity to bond with our children. I miss it!

  14. Ugh to those naysayers. I had forgotten about that until I read this. My second was so fussy, and I remember a brand new friend being really snippy and know-it-all'ish telling me the baby was hungry. That friendship didn't go anywhere, plus my baby was round!

  15. @Janae: Thank you! Glad you persevered. Sometimes, that's all it takes to succeed!

    @Sue: Oh yes, such a wonderful bonding time with the kids. I'm still at it, so I don't miss it that much yet ;)

    @Liz: It's so important to be around people who are positive and encouraging. A friend like that isn't worth keeping I guess. Glad your baby was round! :)


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