Sunday, August 1, 2010

Celebrating International Breastfeeding week, Joyful Mama Style!

Here is how it started: My younger sister - who also happens to be one of the greatest fans of my blog! -  is expecting her firstborn in October, and during a phone conversation last week she asked if I would consider doing some blog posts about things like To Dummy or Not To Dummy, How to Introduce Solids, etc.  It doesn't take much to inspire me, and since breastfeeding is a topic that is soooo close to my little heart {literally! :-)}, I decided to do a series of posts on that.

Now, once I get inspired, I need to let it overflow or I explode, so I called my good friend Georgia to see what she thought about contributing to my Very Exciting Little Project. Being a great friend and nursing mother herself, she needed no persuasion to jump on the band wagon, and then said she vaguely remembered someone mentioning that World Breastfeeding Week was coming up, and wouldn't it be perfect if we could publish our posts to coincide with that?! it turns out...

1 - 7 August 2010
World Breastfeeding Week!
So, for the rest of this week you can look forward to inspiring, humorous, practical posts on

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding!

(Yes, that's the name of the wonderful book by La Leche League, but it is so perfect, I couldn't resist using it as the title for these posts, too!) Some wonderful breastfeeding friends will contribute guest posts on the subject, and stay tuned, because there's a giveaway due by the end of the week!

If you are pregnant or a new mommy, I hope you find some good advice here. If you are a soon-to-be second time mommy who didn't have breastfeeding success with your first child, may these articles encourage you to try again, and provide you with better information this time around about where to find the right support. And lastly, if you are a seasoned breastfeeding mom, just enjoy, and I would LOVE to hear your favourite breastfeeding stories, too!

I mentioned that the articles would be practical and so on, but since I have dips on the first one, I hope you will allow me a sentimental trip down memory lane, as I recall my first experiences with breastfeeding..

Being the eldest of four daughters, I have the priviledge of remembering when all three my younger sisters were born. The memories of the first two's births are well remembered probably mostly because of the great presents I was given on those occassions (a huge pink Mama Teddy Bear holding a matching baby bear rang in my first sister's birth, and when the second one arrived, my parents gave us two older ones a beautiful, life-size baby doll each. We instantly turned into little mothers, changing our babies whenever our baby sister was changed, and 'breastfeeding' them whenever she was due for a top-up!) I can't remember if we got any gifts when our youngest sister was born. I am sure my mom would have given us something, but everything else paled in comparison to that moment when the nurse pushed that tiny little girl out of the theatre for us to meet. I was ten years old, and my dad had taken us out of school for the first few periods so we could be at the hospital for my sister's Cesearean birth. We were pacing the hall, just like in the movies, giddy with anticipation about whether we were getting a baby brother or sister! Back at school, my teacher and class mates were also quite excited and cheered when I burst through the door with the announcement that we were now FOUR GIRLS in the family!

I have no recollection of babies crying at night, or my mom looking haggard after sleepless nights. But I do have gentle memories of Mom leaning back against the pillows on her bed, the soft glow of a small bedside lamp, and a nursing baby gently suckling herself to sleep at Mom's breast. I was therefore very much surprised, just before my own daughter's birth, to learn that Mom only breastfed us all until we were three months old, and then switched to bottles and cow's milk. She says she just didn't like breastfeeding.

It was about three weeks before Sweetpea's birth, and I was really amazed about how much this 'news' affected me. I guess it is slightly overdue to discover that your mother isn't perfect when you are 30 years old, but I was really hurt by this. I have read so much about the importance of breastfeeding, and I had such beautiful, comforting memories of Mom feeding my sisters! How could she not have liked it?! And what did that say about me and my prospects as a future nursing mother?

By this time I had read a lot about breastfeeding and my husband and I was of one accord that there was no other option for our children. I had head knowledge, but for the first time I started to wonder whether I would be able to actually do it...

The story of my daughter's birth will wait for another time, but suffice it to say that I ended up having an unscheduled epidural Cesearean. And for as long as I live, I will never forget the moment they laid that sweet little girl on my chest, huge, suprised eyes and a shock of pitch black hair. I cried the entire time I spent in the recovery room, because everthing in me was yearning for that baby, to hold her and kiss her and drink in her beauty (I am crying now. Will try not to splash tears on keyboard for fear of electrocution).

My sweet little angel, age 9 months.

And the moment I was wheeled into my room and my husband handed me our little girl, my world changed forever. I could not take my eyes off of her -she was so perfect. And instinct took over and I lifted my hospital gown and for a moment I was not sure what to do next. But then an image flashed in my memory of a video I had seen on a website - it could have been the World Health Organisation, or La Leche League - I can't recall. But I immediately knew what to do: I craddled my daughter in my left arm, put my right hand behind her head, and when she rooted at the touch of my nipple against her cheek, I firmly pressed her to my breast, making sure she had as much as possible of it in her small mouth. And that, my dears, was that: the beginning of a beautiful breastfeeding partnership that lasted for 15 months.

I weaned Sweetpea when I was almost six months pregnant with her little brother. He took to the breast with the same ease as his sister before him, and we are still happily breastfeeding at present (he turned one a couple of weeks ago). Although I never had any problems with Sweetpea, I did take a decidedly different approach with Arrow Boy:
Stealing a kiss from Prince Charming, when he was 7 months old.

* By the time he arrived, I had been to a few La Leche League meetings and understood the importance of demand feeding so much better, so I chucked the books that prescribed a four hourly schedule!

* Those same books had told me never to nurse a baby to sleep, since it becomes a bad habit (WHAT??!!) Well, I had done my share of trying to get a fussy little one to sleep without milk, and life is just too short to spend your nights listening to the sad wailing of your little one needing the comfort of your breast, so Arrow was fed whenever he was sad or restless at night, and this had such a comforting effect on him, that he very quickly turned into a baby who wakes up once a night max!

* I am also in no hurry to wean him befor he is ready. And who knows, if God chooses to bless us with another bundle of joy befor then, I may just try tandem feeding!!

That's it folks  - I am signing off to help a little thirsty customer to the milky bar: perfectly balanced, super-nutritious, warm milkies on tap, twenty four hours a day! Happy feeding! 


  1. I think we must be around the same age. I had a very similar experience with my mom and mother-in-law with the breast feeding issue. Both stopped very early. But when I did some digging deeper I discovered that during that era moms were being encouraged to use bottles and formula more. It was like they were being told formula is better! Once I could see it from that angle it made me easier to "forgive". We all fall into the trap of following trends around us. I'm looking forward to reading your posts. Not sure if we'll have another baby, but I would love to learn *just incase* :-)

  2. What a beautiful posting!
    Will love to read the promised birth story...
    This week's postings on Breastfeeding is such a brilliant idea!
    Have a blessed week!
    Lots of love

  3. Hi Nikki! Thanks for that insight - it definitely helps to look at it from their perspective, too, in trying to understand our mothers' choices. May you enjoy the rest of this week's posts - I am thrilled to have all these amazing women contribute to our celebration of nurturing motherhood!

  4. Hi Linnie! Thanks for stopping by, I know that things are a beehive of activity on your side this week, so I really appreciate it. And if I never told you this before: thnk you so much for the good advice and excellent example you are to me. Your advice for breastfeeding during those first few weeks (to give the baby one breast as often as he likes for a two hour period, and then switch) was INAVLUABLE! Blessings to you and yours!

  5. What a beautiful article. I also demand feed and it's the most wonderful feeling to know that my breasts comforts Jane whenever she needs it. She is such a content baby. Sometimes I feel like crying with emotion when I see what a comfort it is to her and how she trust me to see to her needs.

  6. Hi Celiah Ann! It was so great to meet you in person on the weekend. Your daughter is beautiful and had me all broody all over again! I know what you mean about feeling emotional: It is such an overpowering thought when one realises just how much these tiny little people depends on us. But what joy to be able to meet their needs in such a loving and comforting way. Blessings to you and yours today!


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