August 1st through the 7th is World Breastfeeding Week. Last year, I posted a little about the history and motivation behind WBW and I focused on being supportive of breastfeeding moms without criticizing those who use formula for whatever reason. This year, I am celebrating nearly 11 straight months of breastfeeding with Kylar
It's a very different feeling to make it this far with him. I honestly never expected to. My initial goal was 6 months. When we made it that far, I was impressed and decided to push for a year. Now, as we are quickly approaching his first birthday, I'm torn. I could wean him at a year, like I'd originally planned with Connor, or I could see just how long we can keep this up. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for 2 years or longer. I'm not sure I really want to breastfeed for two full years, but I have to say that I am enjoying not having a menstrual cycle and my boobs are still looking good. Those things will change rapidly once I stop feeding him. Not to mention all the added health benefits that he's getting from me.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing a woman can be asked to do and it is also one of the most stressful and anxiety-inducing. It is a lot of work and you are always left wondering: Are doing it right? Is the baby getting enough? How's your supply holding up? What if you get bite (trust me, that shit hurts)? What if your baby can't latch? What if your baby gets hungry in public? What if someone yells at you for feeding in public? What if your family or in-laws shun you for nursing in front of them? What if you are so anxiety-ridden that your supply just dries up? That last one is a bit of a catch 22. Stressing about losing your supply can actually cause you to lose it.
My best suggestion for dealing with the anxiety of breastfeeding and concerns about performance issues: just breathe. If your supply fades, that sucks, but that's why formula exists. If your baby can't latch for whatever reason, pumping and bottle feeding works just as well. There are literally hundreds of recipes for smoothies, cookies and other desserts as well as fruit and veggies that help boost your supply if you're concerned about losing it. I drank Sweetie Pie's smoothie every day for several months around my 4 month mark with Kylar when I thought I was going to lose my supply. You can also try cluster pumping. I did that for awhile too. It's time consuming but effective.
Breastfeeding is never easy. Anyone who says differently is crazy. Some women have it easier than others, but we all have our struggles and concerns. This week is devoted to educating society on those struggles and concerns as well as honoring those who have rocked their journey. Whether your breastfed for a day or have been going nonstop for 6.5 years, you are an amazing woman and this week is for you!
Hail to the boobies!
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Writer and Contributor for the Motherhood Community