When I discovered National Breastfeeding Month was in August, I quickly sent my friend Alysa a message on Twitter–as a breastfeeding mama to a little girl, Alysa has already been sharing posts about breastfeeding and her experiences. For background: many physicians and child development specialists recommend breastfeeding to new parents–it allows for mother-child bonding, provides the best nutrients for each stage of infant development, and assists with immune system development in babies. While there are many reasons a family may choose not to breastfeed, I’m happy Alysa chose to give us a glimpse into why she chose breastfeeding as the best way to go for her daughter, as well as her husband and herself.
I’m 30 years old from Winnipeg, in Canada. I just graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Recreation Management and Community Development and I’m a fashion and lifestyle blogger over at www.alysalovely.com. I’ve been married for just over 3 years, and my husband and I have one child, a 9 month old daughter. I’m currently a stay at home mom!
The obvious… How did you make the choice to breastfeed? Do you breastfeed exclusively?
When I was pregnant, I heard a lot about breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. My mom had been able to breastfeed me and my siblings, but I had heard that some of my aunts and my grandmother hadn’t been able to. I figured at that point that I would want to at least try. Then I read the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” which was written by members of the La Leche League. After I read that, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. Based on the information in that book, and other things I’d read online, the benefits of breastfeeding my child greatly outweighed the risks associated with formula feeding. Then you add in the cost of formula, and the convenience of breastfeeding, it all made more sense to me to breastfeed.
We have been exclusively breastfeeding since our daughter was about 3 months old.
What have been unexpected challenges and triumphs breastfeeding your daughter? What supports have you found helpful along the journey?
Breastfeeding was much more difficult than I thought it would be, especially at first. We had problems with latching, which made feeding painful. Our daughter was a very sleepy baby, so we had to make sure she was actually eating and not just falling asleep immediately. She also had a little bit of trouble gaining weight at first, the doctors were concerned because she is a small baby. We felt pressured to supplement with formula, which was pretty stressful. But all that being said, we continued to breastfeed even when it was hard. There were a few days where our daughter decided she didn’t want to be breastfeed and would only take a bottle. It was really frustrating that she would reject the breast like that.. but luckily it only lasted a day or two.
Every new month we get to with breastfeeding is a huge triumph for us because there were so many times where I was very close to quitting and just formula feeding. I would set mini-goals for myself, saying that I would be happy to breastfeed for 3 months. And then 6 months. We’ve now been breastfeeding for 9 months and I feel so great about that.
I’ve had a lot of support in my breastfeeding journey. One of my biggest supporters was actually my father in law. There was a lot of talk about how it was inappropriate for women to breastfeed in public in the media, and he basically said it was garbage and that a baby should be fed whenever and wherever they are, and that I shouldn’t worry about what other people think. It gave me the confidence it took to nurse in public wherever I happened to be at the time.
Do you try to include your husband in breastfeeding?
When we were supplementing, he was in charge of feeding her that. The whole time though, we have a system where I am in charge of input and he is in charge of output. I haven’t really included him in feedings as much, except in a pinch when we need to feed our daughter pumped milk. He’s a huge help with it though, he has been my greatest encourager and supporter. While I feed our daughter, he takes care of my needs, like bringing me food and water and letting me know that I’m doing a good job.
What advice do you have for new parents regarding breastfeeding?
It’s ok if you don’t get it at first, it is hard, but you will get there and it does get better! Also, get the nipple cream with lanolin in it, that stuff is a lifesaver. It’s hard at first, but it’s so worth it.