Two weeks ago I sat in a WIC class surrounded by approximately ten mothers and one mother-to-be. The leader of the class asked the mothers who were still breastfeeding.
I immediately reminisced about my first visit to that very class when I sat determined to breastfeed for a year and one mother sitting in front of me turned to me and said, “Oh, honey, if you’re like me you won’t make it past two weeks. It hurts too much! Naw, that’s not for me!”
Honestly, I’m not still breastfeeding my daughter who weaned herself just two months prior to the class. . . but I lied. No other mothers in the room raised their hands when we were asked who was still breastfeeding and I wanted to show the mama-to-be that it is possible to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. I raised my hand and said I was still breastfeeding my 16-month-old daughter. The leader asked what I liked about breastfeeding. The question caught me off-guard and I stammered something about not having to get up in the middle of the night to prepare bottles while my daughter waited, crying. If I’d had more time to prepare, this is what I would have shared with the class.
There was certainly a learning curve, and it wasn’t always comfortable, but breastfeeding has fulfilled the lives of my daughter, me, and my husband more than I could have ever imagined.
The gifts that breastfeeding gave my daughter are obvious. Breastmilk was gentle on her stomach, unlike formula. Breastmilk comforted her when she felt poorly. Breastmilk sustained her and helped her grow. Breastmilk kept her healthy and protected her from the germs I brought home from work.
Breastfeeding gave me sweet, beautiful times to cuddle my daughter and look into her beautiful eyes. It gave me time to slow down, stop, and enjoy her company. It taught me patience and perseverance. It gave me a greater sense of purpose. It gave me something about which I could be passionate. Breastfeeding gave me a sense of accomplishment that I’d never known – after all, not only did I help my beautiful girl grow in my belly, but I also helped her grow once she met the world for the first time.
I would have never guessed that our breastfeeding relationship could have been a gift for my husband as well. After I told him the benefits of it he was on-board. He was able to see my commitment to our daughter. He was able to see a mother nurture her babe in every sense of the word. He was also able to gain his protective, father-bear instincts when it came to defending us and our choice to breastfeed.
Little did I know when I made the decision to breastfeed that it would be the best decision I’ve ever made.
Breastfeeding helped me learn my body and trust it. . . and gave me confidence in myself.