Baby, meet breast. A tale as old as time, a pair as well known as peanut butter and jelly … These two seem to be meant for each other! Breastfeeding is a decision that all new mothers must face. There are many reasons why a new mom may or may not pursue breastfeeding their new baby, but when it came time for me and Moon, my answer was a resolute let’s do it!
There are lots of resources online and in person to help you understand the benefits and even biological minutia of breastfeeding, and even more resources like Aeroflow Breastpumps (our amazing sponsor) to help new moms out (more on that in a bit!), but I’m going to focus on the reasons why I decided to give Moon an exclusive breast milk diet, and how I’ve navigated the experience, because it isn’t always easy! (But it is worth it!)
Flashback to a year ago or so… I was pregnant, I was catering my eating habits to provide my little growing baby with all the nourishment that would help him be strong and healthy, but that omakase menu of Mama’s nutrients had an expiration date. Or did it? Breast milk is composed of a near perfect combination of protein, vitamins, and fat that your baby needs to flourish. The composition of the breast milk changes almost hourly to create the exact meal your little one needs at that moment to continue their mission to grow big and strong. And don’t forget healthy! When mom breastfeeds baby, she passes antibodies along that can help ward off bacteria, viruses, and sickness. Not to mention breastfeeding can lower chances of asthma, allergies, eczema, ear infections, and so much more.
So, super, crazy healthy? Check. In fact, so healthy that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years for optimal health benefits for your mini human. But it’s not a one-sided deal! Moms who breastfeed are at lower risk for breast or ovarian cancer, and actually recover faster from delivery because of the oxytocin released during feeding.
Let’s take a moment to discuss our hormonal little friend, oxytocin. This “love hormone” is released in both mom and baby while breastfeeding, making each meal a biological bonding experience, as well as a great opportunity for skin-to-skin contact.
So! For all the reasons above (and plenty more, I really recommend all parents do research on the topic!) I decided that breast milk was the way to go for Moon. If only the actual experience was as easy as that sentence made it seem! Things didn’t go exactly as planned from the get-go, when, after an incredibly long and difficult labor, I had to have an emergency c-section to deliver Moon. (See more about my birth experience here!) Following this, my breast milk didn’t come in for about 4-5 days … I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed at all! But I kept nursing and pumping and finally it came! Perseverance paid off!
My doctor recommended that I pump once daily after my first daylight feed to create a supply of breast milk for the times when I can’t breastfeed, or on the chance of an emergency. This extra pump is now part of my daily routine and this extra breast milk is now the majority shareholder in our freezer’s (no longer) free space.
Things haven’t always gone smoothly, and I’ve dealt with a range of difficulties ranging from the unglamorous to the downright painful! To be specific, I’ve experienced sore nipples, clogged ducts, and even a breast infection. I soothe the sore nipples with nipple balm, have countered the clogged ducts with a combination of massage, hot compresses, and a daily dose of sunflower lecithin, and ended up taking some antibiotics for the infection. Thankfully, all of these issues were treatable, and extra thankfully, I had help.
I cannot emphasize enough that it is normal to need help during your breastfeeding experience, and that help and support are out there! I consulted a lactation consultant multiple times — for help feeding the Moon was a few weeks old, and when I had clogged ducts. When my friend had a new baby via surrogate, I helped out by giving them some of my extra breast milk for their little one… we all can be both the person who needs support and the person who gives it!
Support also comes in the form of companies like Aeroflow Breastpumps, who make it easy and efficient for new parents to get a breast pump free through their insurance. Their website has so many top of the line options for pumps, a very thorough selection of accessories for purchase like bags, pillows, bras, and cleaning kits, maternity compression garments, incredibly helpful resources (like videos!) for breastfeeding parents, and such a straightforward system for getting pumps to the parents that need them! As a new parent, I can’t emphasize enough just how helpful it is when a company makes the process this easy for you! Aeroflow Breastpumps assisted in setting me up with the Lansinoh Smartpump, which is a key part of my breastfeeding experience! It's so portable in both size and the fact that it can run off of batteries so you can use it on the go. Also the Lansinoh Smartpump works with a companion app on your smartphone (if you want to use it, but not required) that helps you track your pumping each day! Remember all of that extra milk I mentioned? Now you know how I get it done — with ease, comfort, and a really handy bluetooth feature that connects to an app! Speaking as a new mother, we already have so much on our hands, and thankfully our sponsor Aeroflow Breastpumps is so amazing for making things so thorough and simple!
You know, writing this has reminded me that Moon may be ready for some “mooks!’ (as we call it.) While there have been definite challenges along the way, I am glad I chose to breastfeed and grateful for the bonding experience it has given me with my little Moon. I’m planning to continue breastfeeding as long as he still wants to. I mean … what are mothers for!