I have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to breastfeed my daughter for the last 8 months. When I initially found out I was pregnant, breastfeeding was one of the top goals I set for myself.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. My mom breastfed both me and my brother, so it was familiar to me. As a Family Studies and Human Development Major in College I learned about all the incredible benefits of breastfeeding and was further inspired. But as natural as breastfeeding is, it doesn’t come easy to everyone. In fact, most of my friends who have had children before me struggled with breastfeeding and ended up reverting to formula. In order to prepare myself for this journey, I attended La Leche League Meetings throughout my pregnancy. This experience helped me to learn about potential road blocks as well as listen to the various solutions offered by other breastfeeding moms and lactation consultants.
One of the most incredible moments in my life, after giving birth to my daughter, was when the nurse handed her to me and she immediately latched on. It’s moments like this where you truly appreciate the perfect design of human nature. I couldn’t have been more grateful. I was also lucky to have my midwives there to support me and talk me through it, answering an any questions I may have had. Since then, we have been enjoying a pretty smooth journey as far as breastfeeding is concerned.
In addition to breastfeeding my daughter, it was my desire to feed her on demand. On demand feeding simply means feeding Harper whenever she signals that she is hungry, rather than on a schedule. In the early days, she would communicate to us that she was hungry by sucking her hand or fussing. Now, Harper is able to use the sign for milk to indicate when she is hungry. We started introducing her to simple signs when she was very young. Whenever I would offer her the breast for a feeding I would use the sign for milk as she was approaching the breast. That way she would begin to associate the sign with the action. At around 4 months, she was able to use the sign to tell me when she wanted to eat.
But as natural as breastfeeding your baby on demand may be, our society seems to be extremely disconnected from this concept. Nowadays, it’s more common to see a baby sucking on a bottle than breastfeeding in public. And in the chance that you do see a baby breastfeeding in public, most likely they are under a nursing cover. As much as I respect a woman’s desire to be modest, I happen to be missing the modesty gene and therefore will pretty much feed my daughter anytime, anywhere. What I find so interesting about our culture, is that when I feed my daughter in public, I get people staring at me like I have 3 heads! And yet, this is why God invented the breast, to feed my baby. Of course, I never allow these people to bother me. Instead, I am happy to be an example and offer them a chance for education and enlightenment.
Breastfeeding has been an amazing experience. It is definitely one of the highlights of being a mom. I am grateful to be able to give my child the gift of momma’s milk.