My Breastfeeding Story Part One – Recommended Books About Breastfeeding
My Views on Breastfeeding Were Naive
I used to believe that my breastfeeding experience began when my oldest son was born in August 2001. It turns out that it began much earlier as I was growing up and developing my beliefs about breastfeeding. I was 19 years old before I realized that infant formula was not prescription-only. Before then I assumed that the “milk” I saw in baby bottles was either pumped breast milk or straight cow’s milk. I thought formula was only for infants who were allergic to the breast milk of their mothers. I was, after all, one of those infant who had been “allergic” to my mother’s milk. I was breastfed for six weeks before my mother began to use formula because I “spit up all the time”. I now understand that I likely had reflux and that, in reality, infants spit up a lot regardless of their food source.
I assumed every mother fed her newborn by breastfeeding–after all, that’s what they’re for–and that formula was a special concoction that a doctor and pharmacist worked together to provide for mothers whose babies had a breast milk allergy. It was only when I saw an ad for formula at the age of 19 that I realized it could be bought over-the-counter. I made a note of that and of another PSA telling me that “breast is best” and filed it away for later recall. (I worked in the baby department of a major department store and read a lot of Baby Talk magazines while passing the time.) Almost four years later I was pregnant with my first child and within months embarked on a journey that was one of the most amazing, yet difficult I’d ever taken.
I Wasn’t At All Prepared For Breastfeeding
I went through my entire first pregnancy without giving a single thought to breastfeeding. A couple of friends asked if I was going to breastfeed and I said, “Of course!”. To me, there wasn’t another option. Formula was for sick babies who couldn’t nurse. I really had no clue.
I didn’t seek out any preparatory material concerning breastfeeding. I truly believed that when my baby was born, he would latch quickly and effortlessly and we’d nursed for about six months, after which he would be eating enough solids that weaning would be easy.
Closer to delivery, I read in a magazine that breast milk or formula for the first year was essential and so I decided that after weaning my son at six months, I would use formula. I still assumed he’d be eating enough baby food that he would have no more than 1-2 bottles of formula per day.
Yes, my decision to breastfeed my son did not come from a place of knowledge about proper infant feeding. It came from a place of, “God gave me breasts for a reason–of course, breast milk is best!”. I didn’t have any clue that science had long determined how much better breast milk was than formula or that nature intended for us to breast feed our children long past what is culturally and socially acceptable in the United States.
When my son was born, I was in for a rude awakening. I was also about to come into a great deal of knowledge that would change not only my views about breastfeeding, but my views on many other topics, as well. I’d quickly learn that breastfeeding wasn’t simply “latch and go” and “natural” doesn’t mean easy.
What Would I Do Differently?
If I could go back to my first pregnancy and do one thing differently it would be to read tons of books about breastfeeding. I’d also join online and in-person support groups before my baby was born. Hearing other mom’s breastfeeding stories was helpful while I tried to figure out breastfeeding my first baby. If I’d had their warnings and seen them work out their struggles before my son was born I would’ve been better prepared for my own struggles.
See below for the books I recommend for breastfeeding mothers.
Read on for Part 2 of my breastfeeding journey.
Get support for parenting and connect with other moms – join us in our private Facebook group for Positive Parenting Support.