It would be a lie if I told you that breastfeeding my daughter’s always been a piece of cake. Nursing, like all other aspects of motherhood, has come with its fair share of challenges. For one, Lili didn’t come out of the womb immediately knowing how to latch. It took her the entire stay in the hospital and several days at home before she finally figured it out. But this wasn’t entirely Lili’s fault-- I too struggled to find the proper way to nurse. It was a learning curve for the both of us.
Since those first few days, there have been times when all I’ve wanted to do is wean Lili off of breastmilk and switch to formula. In many ways, it would be much easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not she’s eating enough at each feeding or if I’m producing enough to satisfy her. And lately, Lili’s been so distracted by the brand-new world around her that the last thing she has the patience for is to latch before she’s turning her head to look at some new thing that’s caught her attention.
Yet, despite, the challenges of breastfeeding and the hard work that’s associated with it, nursing has many benefits for both baby and mother. Recently, I came to understand this when I became really sick with a stomach bug. As a result of dehydration, I lost almost all of my milk supply. For the next several days, in a frantic attempt to try and restore my production, I was constantly alternating between pumping and nursing. However, Lili wasn’t nursing long since I didn’t have much to give her, and the bottle was slowly becoming her new best friend. It was during this difficult time that I came to realize just how much I loved and missed nursing my daughter. I missed the feeling of closeness it brought, the way it seemed to relax the both of us, the connection that we experienced every time she’d latch.
Now, weeks later, I relish the opportunity to nurse Lili. It still comes with the same challenges as before, but what I’ve come to refer to as the “ABC’s” of breastfeeding have made it all the more worth it for both my baby and me.
A is for Affection
It comes as no surprise that, as mothers, we love our babies. Nursing only amplifies that feeling of love. Without delving too much into the realm of science, this feeling of affection that occurs during breastfeeding is a result of the hormone oxytocin getting released every time a mother nurses. They don’t call it the ‘love drug’ for nothing, folks!
B is for Bonding
An article by The Natural Child Project asserts a known fact that I heard over and over again in the hospital after giving birth to my little bundle of joy: “breastfeeding satisfies baby’s emotional needs and increases bonding between mother and baby” (www.naturalchild.org). The skin-to-skin contact develops a personal relationship like no other. It brings your baby as close to you as she physically can get, while providing you two with a lot of one-on-one time together.
C is for Comfort
Nursing is one of the best ways to soothe an unhappy, fussy infant. It gives the baby something familiar to focus on, helps her to feel better when she’s in pain, and let’s her know that you’re present and available. You remember those bear hugs your mother used to give you when you were a kid? The ones that used to make you feel so warm and safe? That’s what your baby feels every time she nurses with you. That oh-so-wonderful oxytocin kicks in once again, calming your baby and making her much happier.
And when baby’s happy... Mama’s happy too!
Am I right?
Lili & Me
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