Getting pregnant is the starting line of the marathon we call mothering. The next several months are filled with excitement, anticipation, and planning all the things. The first big hurdle in our marathon is childbirth. Afterward, it is normal to be physically and emotionally drained, thanks in part to the hormonal shift that happens after childbirth.
Right on the heels of this exhaustion is another hurdle—figuring out how to feed our new baby. Some babies know exactly how to latch and breastfeed right off the bat. Yay! Other babies—dare I say many babies—require a little time to get the hang of it.
Stress and emotions rise when our reality deviates from what we planned. Did you plan on breastfeeding within an hour of birth and then end up having to use a pump? Or do you have a baby that isn’t gaining weight and you find yourself needing to get professional help and possibly supplement? These scenarios can make you feel defeated. It is normal to think, “But I wanted to breastfeed!” Dear mama, you are. Let me help you define breastfeeding:
- Expressing a few drops of colostrum for your baby
- Letting your baby practice latching onto your breast three or four times a day
- Providing some breast milk for your baby, even if it’s not “all” the milk he receives
- Pumping breast milk and providing it in a bottle
- Using an at-breast supplementer with formula
You see, when your baby spends any amount of time at the breast and/or receives any amount of breast milk, you are breastfeeding. Is your baby learning to breastfeed? You are breastfeeding. Are you providing some milk for your baby? You are breastfeeding. Does your baby like to latch and sleep at the breast? You are breastfeeding. Even if my baby gets some formula? Yes. Even if my baby takes a bottle for most feedings while we are learning? Yes.
So lace up your shoes. This stretch of the marathon lasts a while. But there are lots of us on the sidelines cheering you on. Run proudly!