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Breastfeeding Pre-Game

Last night I was invited to join a good friend of mine who is also a new mom to attend to the La Leche League meeting that is held once a month.  I had heard about La Leche League online through several different pregnancy resources, but didn’t realize that we had groups organized here.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to just listen to the other moms who are breastfeeding and gain some insight as to their struggles, tips and mindset.  I was formula fed, as were many people my age and because of that I simply don’t have a lot of personal advice about breastfeeding other than from some of my friends (which is invaluable), so there’s nothing to lose by checking it out.

I plan to breastfeed for all of the obvious reasons, namely because there is no denial of the incredible healthy benefits for your baby that simply cannot be replicated by a chemistry lab, so not willing to give it a serious try is out of the question for me.  Did you know that if your baby is born prematurely, your body knows exactly what to do to customize your breast milk to give your baby what it needs? Your milk will adjust and change to meet your baby’s needs as they grow and develop and I find that so fascinating, don’t you? 

I am a perfectly healthy product of being formula fed, however, there is research now that also suggests that breastfeeding may also lower your child’s risk of obesity.  There are always other factors leading to something of that nature, but I certainly want to give my child every natural benefit that I possibly can.  Personally, I know how obesity affects your life from all angles.  (That is only one specific example per the nature of this blog.)

I also plan to breastfeed for the bonding experience.  I already feel so connected to my little peanut that it makes me teary.  But I have to admit, I have never been really exposed to breastfeeding throughout my life (as long as I can remember) and my mother was of a time where formula feeding was “the way to go” and never minded sharing that she was never really comfortable with it personally.  I have learned that the more you expose yourself to something and learn about it, the less fear you feel and the more comfortable you become.  The same goes for the “idea” of what’s going to happen on our baby’s birthday.  A few month’s ago, I was afraid. So much so that there was a lot of crying in the beginning simply of just “fear” of the unknown.  Over the last few months I have spent my car commutes listening to pregnancy podcasts and I can’t tell you how much better I feel now. Night and Day.   

I now have more confidence and I know I can do this.  I’m feeling more confident in “not” knowing what I’m doing, but still “knowing” what will be best for my baby.  I will be AM the expert (even though I’m not).

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect at the LLL meeting, but kept an open mind.  Admittedly, I did go to the meeting mildly skeptical because I was afraid I was going to be entering a room full of women who held very strong opinions about breastfeeding and while I personally do feel very strongly about my decision to try with all of my heart, I also recognize that it’s not a decision that defines you as a mother, nor should you have to feel like it does, nor does it always work out the way you planned.  I have never heard from one single person that it was “easy” and came as naturally as they thought in the beginning, so I am trying to arm myself with as much preparation about what to “really” expect, common problems and how to approach them if and when they happen.  I hope that this will derail my urge to panic when and if they happen.  So in that regard, LLL is the perfect place to learn about those things.  The leader prefaced the meeting with the fact that people differ in their opinions and it’s important to take what you want from the advice and leave behind what you don’t want.

I was pleasantly surprised about the discussions that were had at this particular meeting.  I think one of the leaders swayed the discussion a little for my benefit as she asked people to give their experiences about transitioning into motherhood, things that they found really helpful in the beginning or things they didn’t do but wished they had etc. for “the expectant mothers in room” which was ME because there was only one other pregnant woman and she already had two children.  I appreciated that very much because I felt like I could benefit directly from their advice.

In particular, there was one woman who had formula fed her first child who is now 4 years old, said her daughter loved it and is now currently breastfeeding her 8 week old, but is struggling with sleep deprivation associated with regular feedings and the difficulties with having another child to look after that makes it difficult to “sleep when they sleep” and was expressing her feelings about considering introducing night time formula feedings to help her get more sleep. (Apparently, infants sleep longer when formula fed because it takes longer to digest.)  She was expressing how this brought her a certain amount of guilt, but is really struggling with managing bringing her 4 year old to her appointments on time etc.  I noticed that no one in the group volunteered their support of that in the beginning.  Many of the moms at the meeting also had other children at home and while no one came right out and said they disagreed with that, it wasn’t until the very end of the meeting that one of the leaders finally piped up and said that she should never feel guilty about any decision she makes that is going to work better for her family.

I really appreciated that she did finally say that because I find that I am now being introduced to an entirely new world of criticism and strong opinions about subject matters that are very personal to each and every person.  Parenting is such a big deal and I can see why people would hold their opinions so strongly because they want to feel like they are doing “the best” for their child.

What did you find helpful when transitioning into motherhood? What things did you struggle with the most internally?  Did people make you feel “guilty” for making decisions about breastfeeding?

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