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Memories of Milk-Filled Mammaries

October 20, 2011 by Alex     0

from mariarina
from mariarina
Just over a year ago, a wrinkly red face squinted up at me after being unceremoniously yanked out of my body and plopped onto my chest. Within a few sweet seconds, my daughter latched properly and with purpose onto my right breast and fed herself her first food outside the womb. That moment, so simple and natural, was also the beginning of a much bigger journey that we started on that beautiful September morning.

Having a baby immediately puts you on a course of actions, reactions and behaviors that no baby book will ever prepare you for. Through trial and error (sorry errors - there will be a ton) you discover for yourself how best to navigate the new world with a little friend now relying on you for, oh, just the simple act of survival is all. If you're ready and willing, the best advice you can get as a new Mama is from a recently new Mama. So, let me tell you my tales.

The greatest adjustment post-delivery is how much you are now on demand. With a successful newborn breastfeeding schedule, you will never know the joys of more than four hours of sleep in a row. (There's a good reason time travel doesn't exist. In a fit of sleepless insanity all Moms would go back in time and use birth control.) Learning how to use your breast pump is the first step to letting others help you with this enormous responsibility. What a wondrous nap you'll have knowing your little one, even when hungry, can be completely cared for with someone else's loving arms feeding them your expressed milk via bottle.

Other than the magic pump, your other essential props are: lanolin to slather on suddenly overwhelmed nipples after each feed; a special pillow to rest baby's head on so your arms don't become Schwarzenegger-like; protein-filled snacks and a full water bottle at the ready for easy fueling; burp blankets draped on every piece of furniture (get ones that match the dcor and you'll look like an interior design innovator); and many nursing bras that aren't white because the straps are thick and ugly and will inevitably be seen in every picture of you from that first year.

How long you decide to breastfeed is a personal decision based on many factors - when and if you go back to work or whether baby still is interested after solid foods have been introduced are just a few. I weaned my daughter right before I returned to work as she was only feeding once or twice at night, thus my milk had slowed to a trickle and she ended up seeming frustrated more than calmed with the lack of return on her furious sucking.

I do admit that I miss that time we had together. Those first nights alone, her happily nuzzled into my chest while I silently sobbed at how big and beautiful this life change was. Then the end, when the only time she would lay still would be for a last feed before bed, accompanied by the lullaby of our heartbeats and gentle stroke of her fuzzy post-bath hair.

Finally I must say how grateful and humbled I am that successful breastfeeding was so easy and immediate. For an act between Mama and bub that gets dissected and preached about as seriously as a religious passage, it sometimes just doesn't work for some women. What a terrible fate to feel, on top of all the life-altering adjustments that a child brings, like you're a failure at the one thing Dad, Grandma or the Doctor just can't do.

Filed under: Breast Milk.

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