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Monday, March 21, 2011

My {updated} Breastfeeding Story

This is tough for me to write without being repetitive since this blog actually covers EVERY detail of my breastfeeding journey (want to read it? click here, or under the label "breastfeeding"). I actually wrote an entire post on my breastfeeding story then started reading through my old posts and realize I said the EXACT same stuff that I've already said before! I wrote this post about the breastfeeding basics class at the hospital (where I started to REALLY get passionate about nursing my baby!), this post is one I wrote early on as a mommy and talks about my breastfeeding story up to that point, this post is about my decision to continue nursing past my 6 month goal, this post talks about starting the weaning process, this post discusses being completely done breastfeeding and this post is tips on drying up.

For me, breastfeeding is something I am more passionate it about now that my child is older than I was during pregnancy or when Kye was an infant. I SEE the benefits. Kye is very rarely sick and has been sick less times than any other child his age that I know personally. Seeing as pretty much all the kids his age, that we're close to, were not breastfed as long as he was, I believe that breast milk has a LOT to do with his health!!! He's never had an ear infection, never had more than the common cold or the flu, has no food allergies, has always been right on target for weight/height, etc etc (you KNOW I'm pushing my luck writing this...watch him get an ear infection tomorrow...). While he's too young to really know if breastfeeding has played a role in his intelligence, I do think he's at or above average to where he should be in that area.

If I had done more research into breastfeeding benefits with Kye, I think I would have possibly nursed even longer than I did (I nursed exclusively for about 10 months). To be honest, I never get the "baby itch." I don't see a baby and want another one. I surely don't see a pregnant woman and think "oh man I can't WAIT to be pregnant again!!!" The ONE and ONLY thing that makes me get that impregnate-me-NOW feeling is when I think about nursing. I miss it so much more than I thought possible. It brings tears to my eyes to remember holding Kye close to me, looking into his eyes, and feeling that bond that no one else could experience with my child. I will NEVER, for the rest of Kye's life, be as close to him as I was then. I'll never get to hold him as long or cuddle with him as much or be able to give him something SO powerful.
I already have high hopes to enjoy my pregnancy experience more when I go through it all again someday but more than anything I know I will CHERISH and treasure the special time nursing. Like so many of the women that wrote in stories this week, I did NOT have an easy time nursing (here's one of the several posts about my breastfeeding battle). I had mastitis (twice), we dealt with thrush, I had some flat nipple issues, I had hyper-lactation.

My struggles is why I felt the need to have this week of breastfeeding stories. I know it seems like the way to "get" people to want to breastfeed is to ONLY tell them the wonderful parts about it, but I believe the opposite is actually true. When the media talks about breastfeeding all they do is tell the benefits, the great stories, how natural it is and how smoothly everything goes. From my own experience, I know that's not the case. When I was going through the tougher spots I felt like something was wrong with me. Why isn't this easier? I thought it was supposed to be natural? Why does it hurt? Why can't I do it right? That kind of thinking leads to doubt in yourself and your abilities to nurse and that doubt, in my opinion, causes people to give up.

I found this data from breastfeedingbasics.org:

Nationwide in 2010, of the infants who were now 19-35 months of age,
  • 75% were breastfed at birth,
  • 43% were breastfed at 6 months,
  • 22% were breastfed at 12 months,
  • 33% were exclusively breastfed at 3 months,and
  • 13% were exclusively breastfed at 6 months. 
It's wonderful that 75% were breastfed at birth, but look how quickly that number drops! I know that I can't personally change these stats. Lately though I've been getting a lot of readers contacting me who are pregnant and I hope that this week of honest, true, REAL breastfeeding stories will help each of them (and YOU!) to feel passionate about nursing and to see that it isn't always easy, but that it IS always worth it.  I hope that the media will eventually change to incorporate a more realistic view of the nursing experience. I hope that our culture will put more of a value on nursing and support that priority with more lactation specialists at hospitals, more resources for pregnant women and new mothers, and better tools to make nursing a successful experience. I truly believe that if I can do it for as long as I did (with all of our many travels and my many bumps in the breastfeeding road) then ANYONE can. I am here for YOU if you need advice/help/encouragement/someone to vent to or if someone you know needs advice/help/encouragement/someone to vent to. I was SO thankful that I had Crissy to lean on in my struggles and her advice/help/encouragement/someone to vent to helped me SO much to keep going and feel more confident in my abilities.

Before having a baby I would have read Kelley's story and thought "omg how STRANGE to nurse a baby that long!!!" but now I admire her for it. I am jealous of her because she still gets to enjoy a bond that I gave up so long ago. I hope that when baby #2 comes into the world someday that I feel more confident than I did the first time around. That I feel comfortable nursing in public. That I am able to take preventative measures against some of the things I experienced. That I find all possible solutions to be able to go as long as I can with it. That I nurse longer than 10 months. I have learned SO much from Kye and think that all of my knowledge will make for an AMAZING experience for baby #2.
I thank ALL of the mothers who submitted stories for this week and I do hope it's been an encouragement to others. I also hope it's inspired some of YOU to blog about your nursing experience (the good, the bad, we want it ALL!). If you happened to blog about it then please post your link here so others can enjoy your story and learn from your nursing journey! Be sure to read these stories and leave some comment love for them :)

Also tomorrow will be the LAST DAY to enter the giveaway so be sure to do that as well, I'm excited to see who wins!!!

I'd also love to hear what you learned during this weeks theme? Any likes? Dislikes?



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