I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. In my mind, it was just another check off the list. Get engaged, buy a house, get married, get pregnant, have baby, breastfeed baby. But it wasn't until I was in my third trimester of pregnancy that I finally truly thought about what it would mean to breastfeed. And once I started thinking about it, I started to get anxious. What if breastfeeding wasn't easy? What if it was harder than it looked? How would I know when the baby was full? I also remember thinking how weird it would be to have a tiny little person attached to my breast. I couldn't imagine how drastically that thought process would change once my daughter entered my life.
Breastfeeding WAS hard. I met with numerous lactation consultants to help with various breastfeeding holds and techniques, to make sure that the latch was right, to make sure that my baby was indeed getting enough milk. I could see she was suckling but was always worried it meant she was still hungry. Even after my second baby, I still sometimes attend a breastfeeding support group just to check in or ask any questions regarding breastfeeding. I cannot stress enough how much I needed a breastfeeding support group to support me and guide me on my breastfeeding journey.
Because it felt like as soon as I brought my baby daughter home, people would ask "How long are you going to breastfeed her?" To which I would always reply "At least a year. The World Health Organization says 2 years though". It's so interesting to see the various reactions upon hearing that. Some are supportive and don't blink an eye. Some have told me their opinion that breastfeeding should stop as soon as they can ask for it or "get it themselves". Well you know what? My 4 month old son "asks for it" when he roots on me. I breastfed my daughter until she was 18 months and she could "get it herself" simply by tugging at my shirt around 10 months old. And here's the thing: everyone is welcome to their own opinion, just like I am welcome to mine. And when it is regarding my breastfeeding journey with each of my children, no one else's opinions matter.
I remember one asinine comment I received was "Well are you still going to be doing that when she goes to college?" Let me ask you, sir: do you still think you'll be changing your child's diaper in college? Do you think you'll still be cutting grapes into quarters for them so they don't choke? Didn't think so. Granted, I had a very black and white view of breastfeeding before I became a mother. I thought it was just during the day, and until the baby could walk or talk or turn one. Did teenager me think I would be breastfeeding my baby every two hours at night during sleep regressions and teething spells? Definitely not. But that's what motherhood is all about, right? Changing our preconceived notions of parenthood to our current reality.
I think we are all just trying to do our best as parents. I am a strong believer in reaching out for help if needed. Whether this is help for you to take a long nap just to catch up on sleep, or help with learning how to breastfeed and meeting with a lactation consultant, or help from a friend to just take some "me time" and feel like yourself again. Parenting can be beautiful and it can be trying and hard, and at the end of the day we really are all just doing the best that we can. Just know that everyone's breastfeeding journey will be different and that's ok. Just enjoy yours and cherish each and every moment of it.
Nicole Benedum is a stay at home mom to her baby boy and toddler girl. She blogs at stressedandblessedmama.com , and you can also find her on Instagram at instagram.com/stressedandblessedmama