As a teenager I had no idea that some women are unable to breastfeed successfully. All seven of our children were breastfed. I had known since I was a teenager that I wanted to breastfeed, and that’s kind of funny since I had no example of a breastfeeding tradition in our family. When we announced our first pregnancy, and I told my mom I intended to breastfeed, her response was “Good luck with that. I tried it and it didn’t work.” When she was having babies there was virtually no support at all for breastfeeding. The doctors and nurses pushed formula, and she was 2 hours away from her mom, who still lived on the farm and had no phone. My mom had no one to turn to.
Fast forward to 1981 and the birth of our first. I knew some about herbs, but I didn’t know about breastfeeding – and the nurses and doctors were not hugely supportive. They sort of encouraged it, but not really. They were all about schedules and structure. I doubt any of them had actually ever breastfed an infant themselves. There was no direction for how to hold or latch the baby. I was lucky that baby #1 figured it out. He was a natural.
We nursed for 15 months and I never had a supply problem. That might be because I was using many of the herbs I listed in today’s article, How to Increase Breast Milk Supply. Each of our babies was breastfed for between 15 and 30 months. When I totalled up the number of years I spent with a baby attached to my breast, it came out to be over 11 years.
Now, as we have grandbabies, it makes me happy to see their moms (all of them our ‘daughters from another mother’) choosing to breastfeed. I delight to see a mom gazing lovingly at her baby, letting tiny fingers wrap around one of hers, while her baby gazes back. Truthfully, I kind of miss the late night feeds in a quiet house where it was just me and my babe in a prolactin-induced high of mutual adoration.
One of my key missions in life is to guide women to experience and understand the amazing and empowering journey that pregnancy and breastfeeding can be. Neither are necessarily easy tasks, but with the right support, encouragement, and love they can both be exhilarating and fulfilling on so many levels.
I would not trade all the hours I spent nourishing my babies in so many ways by breastfeeding – not for all the tea in China or all the money in the world.
Funny how times change. As my mom got used to the idea that I could breastfeed successfully, her tune changed to peeking in on the baby at my breast and saying, “What a good mom you’ve got. I’ll bet she’s a good cook, too.”
Do you have a breastfeeding “horror” or “success” story?