When I decided to breastfeed my baby, it wasn’t a decision I gave a lot of thought to. Breastfeeding was sort of a default decision for me, because I felt I was “supposed to,” as we have all heard the many benefits for both mother and baby. Because I didn’t think a lot about it, I prepared myself in only focusing on the practical aspect—simply learning how to breastfeed. So imagine my surprise and delight to discover how much I loved it.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate connection between me and Adam. We sustain each other, both physically and emotionally, every time I sit down and bring him to me. Some of my favorite mental snapshots I’ve taken have been of his eyes looking up at me during this routine-yet-intimate act between us.
I’ve since researched the remarkable biochemistry that results from breastfeeding. Every time he nurses, my body makes more oxytocin, a hormone which activates various areas of my brain to bond to him, and to become calm and release stress. When we’re in our special rocker recliner at home, and he’s nursing, all is at peace with the world. It’s how we reconnect when we’ve been apart, and it’s how he finds ultimate comfort—both in his belly and emotionally.
Also, for his first six months, he was exclusively breastfed. So I would often look at him in awe, aware of the fact that my body made all of him. From the moment that he became a fertilized egg, until he was a 17 pound six-month-old, my body nourished him exclusively, so he was completely OF me.
He’s now 7 months old, and a couple of times a day he has baby food, but given the choice, he still prefers me. And as he’s older, he still likes to gaze at me, but will sometimes pause, pull back, and give me a sweet milky grin. He will often stroke my blouse or hold one of my fingers, being more interactive all the time.
Certainly, breastfeeding has its practical benefits as well. I love not having to mess with a bottle every time he needs to be fed, and then washing them all later (in the night especially, breastfeeding is much more convenient). Who knows how much money we’ve saved by not buying formula. And I love that by the time he was 4 months old, I weighed 10 pounds less than I did when he was conceived.
And to be fair, the experience hasn’t been completely sunshine and roses every day. We had the learning curve and some discomfort at the beginning, the occasional engorgement/leaking mishaps, etc. but we worked through them. It’s now second nature to us both. But all that aside, when I’ve been asked about how breastfeeding is going, when I answer, I focus primarily on how much I love it. Breastfeeding my baby was the best “non-decision” I’ve ever made.
Visit the Great Beginnings Lactation Boutique at The Women's Hospital for great deals on breastfeeding products or to speak with our Lactation Consultants.