Why I Breastfeed

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Why_I_BreastfeedMany thanks to Krista Gray of Nursing Nurture for sharing her breastfeeding story with us. Over the next few weeks, Krista will be sharing her breastfeeding expertise with us through a series on how to get breastfeeding off to the right start. Stay tuned!

I grew up knowing I would breastfeed; it’s not that I remember seeing it much as a child, but my mom always portrayed it as normal and I just thought that’s what moms did. When I became pregnant with my first child at 30, I realized that most moms I knew didn’t breastfeed and there was a huge lack of support for breastfeeding, as well as a social stigma attached to public breastfeeding in our western culture. I read every book I could while pregnant about birth and breastfeeding, and took to heart what a doula friend told me: My chances of succeeding at breastfeeding were directly correlated with how many bottles I had in my house.

My daughter arrived and breastfeeding, for the most part, was pretty easy. There were a few bumps in the beginning – her latch hurt, we were in a huge transition moving internationally and I became worried about my milk supply – but in talking to a wonderful lactation consultant my fears were put to rest and our breastfeeding relationship continued for nearly two years, when I became pregnant with twins.

I was living in Egypt and planning to return to the US for their birth when I spontaneously went into labor 7 1/2 weeks early. Not only were they premature, but they were also breech, so I had an emergency c-section, whereby I was put under general anesthetic. Though I was sad at how their birth had turned out, it made me even more determined to succeed at breastfeeding. Their neonatologist was cautiously supportive of my desire to breastfeed, though he never thought my determination would last. At 32 weeks 3 days gestation, they were able to coordinate sucking, swallowing and breathing, though they were losing weight at the breast. I was heavily pressured to “fortify” my milk both from our doctor in Egypt, as well as in the States. I never did supplement, but I also will never forget the emotions and pressure I felt, and can definitely empathize with other moms in the same situation.

When my twins were just 6 days old, we decided to bring them home from the hospital. The next 2 months were a blur of sleepless nights as I tried to breastfeed, pump, give bottles, clean/sterilize bottles…the routine would take 2 hours and I’d have 1 hour before starting all over again, 24/7. I became exhausted, but having nursed a baby before, I knew how easy it could be. Around the time they reached 40 weeks gestation, it really did become easier. They were both at the breast exclusively and I packed up my pump hoping I’d never have to look at it again!

In the meantime, their neonatologist in Egypt was very pleased with their growth and asked if I would consider volunteering at the hospital to encourage Egyptian mothers to breastfeed. This is where my dream of becoming a La Leche League Leader and Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) began. Over the past 4 years, I have had the privilege of serving moms on 3 continents with lactation support.

Breastfeeding is one of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced. It is so much more than the nutrition; but a bond that grows, is nurtured and will carry through in my parenting relationship with my children all their lives. I feel so blessed to have been able to nurse my twins until they self-weaned around 2 1/2 years old and to be currently nursing our fourth (and probably last!) child now.

Though breastfeeding is natural and normal, it is not always easy. Many moms today face issues, such as concern over milk supply, pain during breastfeeding, returning to work, nursing in public and more. Without qualified lactation support, these obstacles can many times be too much to overcome alone. Every mom deserves support from a lactation consultant so she can write the pages of her own breastfeeding journey. My passion is to provide evidence and experiential support to help mothers succeed in their breastfeeding goals!

So tell us, what did your breastfeeding journey look like? Share it with a comment.

KristaGray_HeadshotKrista Gray is an IBCLC, La Leche League Leader, and mother of four breastfed children, including preemie twins. At Nursing Nurture Krista shares research-based information and experience to help moms in their breastfeeding journeys. You can also connect with Krista on Twitter {@nursingnurture} and on Facebook {fb.com/nursingnurture}.

 

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