As I type this post, I’m sitting in our master bedroom watching Katie sleep while I pump. Actually, I should change that last sentence to read “wishing and hoping Katie would sleep, pumping and trying to type this post.”
We are currently 15 minutes into our nightly “witching hour.” The 1-2 hours each day when Katie tends to be most unpredictable. Some days this is her best nap of the day while others she is only happy if being held either while I rock her in the glider or am dancing with her as Disney tunes play in the background.
When I sat down, I wasn’t planning to blog during this pump session. In fact, I have a book sitting next to me. But, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw the outpouring of support on today’s post, my heart was moved to share those same thoughts with you all, especially for those who haven’t been through the journey of breast feeding.
I titled this post This Post Is For Everyone as the last thing I want, is for someone to see the picture of me and Katie and think that this isn’t relevant for them. I understand that many of you probably skip over the motherhood posts, hoping that soon recipes, workouts and fashion posts will become more frequent. But, I promise you, today’s post is for anyone and everyone.
Before I was a mother, I often wondered how to best support my friends as they became mothers or announced their pregnancies. Since I hadn’t been down that path before, I felt clueless.
Whether you are a mother, a soon-to-be mother, a friend, a sister, or an innocent bystander, today I want to share with you the number one word of advice I’d give to you.
Show the mothers around you support and compassion as they develop their style of keeping their baby nourished.
I am so thankful to the friends, relatives, doctors and you all, my readers on Instagram and Facebook, who helped me through the initial days and weeks that were filled with questions, challenges and moments of joy as I figured out how best to nourish Katie.
Like everything in life, this too is very personal. However, we live in a society that often portrays one image of feeding a child. For years, that image was formula feeding. Now, there are hashtags, videos, books and articles portraying the belief that “breast is best.” In fact, I clearly remember, one vivid moment during the first few minutes of our parenting class that we took at Tribecca Medical. The woman leading the class, asked whether anyone in the room planned to feed their child using formula. I leaned over to Bo, asking why in the heck anyone would do that when the best food a child could receive was free and readily accesible. At that point, everything I’d read and heard followed the “breast is best” your child school of thought. It all seemed so simple to me at that time. Of the 20 or 25 people in the room, no one raised their hand.
Over the past seven weeks, as I’ve taken my own journey to understand how best to nourish and feed Katie, I have come to learn and appreciate, that what our pediatrician, my mother and others said to me is so true – FED IS BEST.
If you have a new mom in your life, show her compassion and support as she makes this journey. There will be hard days and wonderful days even for a woman who has the simplest of experiences. The issues and challenges are numerous and sometimes, all someone needs is a friend or loved one who can smile, support them and bring over anything to help. It may be ordering them extra bottles on Amazon Prime when you hear their woes about the constant washing of bottles. Or, maybe they never expected to need a bottle so you help by bringing a random assortment of bottles, with the receipt, so they can quickly test and try the different models. Or, if your friend is breast feeding, maybe you send them a care package of self care items especially for breast feeding – nipple cream, therapeutic gels, lactation cookies, or lactation tea packs. Let them vent to you about the trials and tribulations, even if you’ve never been in their shoes.
In case you don’t know what to say, here are a few things I wouldn’t recommend saying:
Don’t worry, it will get easier. For some, it does get easier but for others it may never improve. Whether it is insufficient supply, blocked ducts, mastitis, latch issues or a host of other challenges, the road may be tough for them the entire time they choose to breastfeed.
Your milk will come in soon, I’m sure formula is only temporary. That mom’s milk may never come in or come in the amount needed to fully support the baby. So many people have said this to me and at first it made me want to curl up in a ball and cry but now, I’ve started using it as a moment to educate them.
So yes, in a society where we have more media in our face than ever before, sometimes the moms need support and love because not every breastfeeding journey is filled with the smiling babies, perfectly fitting nursing covers or nursing clothes and wonderfully full breasts you see in so many ads, stories and articles. Just like everything every other type of media, images projected are far different than reality. The difference is, this act which is so natural is so difficult and sometimes impossible for many women.