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What Does Breastfeeding Mean to You?
~ A Message Board Archive
From JKsMom: If anyone asked me, I'd have a multitude of answers. Breastmilk is best for baby. It is perfect food with just the right balance of fat, protein, and calcium with all the added benefits of antibodies and other substances scientists do not quite understand, but are known to be beneficial.
In terms of cost to one's family, it is the least expensive way to feed your baby. There is no consuming time spent washing bottles and making up powdered formula. I've priced formula and since I have a choice, I've always chosen to breastfeed my children.
Finally, I am in the process of weaning my second child earlier than I had planned. She has benefitted in so many ways from breastfeeding especially with the severity of her food allergies. As I watch her nurse in bliss, eyes closed as if to savor every swallow, knowing that she will not be able to nurse in a couple of more weeks, I appreciate the closeness we have developed as a result. It has been the same with my older child.
The baby that is coming next winter will be just as lucky and, even as I wean my daughter, I know that I will again get to experience the joy, bonding, and knowledge of good nutrition that breastfeeding has brought to my life.
From Nette34: Why do I breastfeed? If you would have asked me that 3 months ago I would have said that I was quitting and not doing it. No told me how hard it was to start. But, now I would not give it up for the world. I can see my baby grow, and it sends chills down my spine that I am helping her grow. Jolene does get a bottle now and then because I work, but I know how much she loves to nurse. She will turn her nose at a bottle if I am in the house. I feel kind of selfish but it is the bond that we have. I have taken flack from some of my friends and even my mother-in-law but that is not going to stop me. I get tears just thinking that someday she will have to be weaned. I guess I will answer the question by saying that I love my daughter and I want to give the best I can for her.
From Theresa: Breastfeeding means that I am giving my baby the best nutrition he could possibly receive. It means that I am bonding in a way that is special and so perfect. I am giving him protection against illness, a greater sense of security, and something only a mother can offer. We are sharing a special bond, one that is different from a father's. It means that when we visit the pediatrician and Mason is gaining weight, I know that I am responsible for his thriving health. When the doctor reports that I have a completely healthy child who is alert and responsive, I know that I am giving Mason the best that I can offer him at this point in his life. When I nurse my son, I am completely focused on him and I am reminded of this beautiful gift that God has given me.
From Robin: Breastfeeding = Liquid Love
From KarenF: To me, breastfeeding equals love, comfort, security and food all wrapped up in a beautiful gesture that is the most natural and healthy thing a mother can do for herself and her baby. Breastfeeding has given me the chance to form a special bond with my child that is the most precious part of my life. I love that my body can produce everything my sweet son needs to grow and thrive. And I can't help but smile with joy when my baby has finished the breast with his eyes completely closed and his tummy completely full. He pulls himself from my breast and a little stream of milk falls out of the corner of his mouth. BURP! Now that's satisfaction for both of us!
From Erin: If you had asked the first couple months I tried this, I would have had no answer. I wasn't getting anything out of it. We had a difficult start, a couple of infections, and an immense lack of support. I'm stubborn and poor . That's the only reason we continued. I'm so glad we did. But thinking about this question now, I STILL have no answer. It's a mix of emotions and needs that it fills so perfectly for both my son and myself.
It's those half-conscious trips down the hallway to go bring him back to bed to eat while I snooze.
It was the first time I'd seen his "sad" face when I had to turn him away for the second day in a row while I was in the hospital.
It was the tearful, frustrating, 3 am pumping sessions with one of the OB nurses during that same hospitalization . . . the determined feeling I had that I wasn't ready to be DONE, yet.
Being the only mom on the shopping trip who can just sit down on the bench in the mall and FEED her hungry child.
The connection I feel with countless generations of women over the centuries. Also, the connection I feel to the natural order of the world; the calves and colts in spring, that new litter of kittens . . .
It's the feeling of his little hand stroking me while he nurses.
It's the peace of lying in bed in the morning after my best friend brings me this wonderful person we created together. The two of us, curling around him.
Surely bottle feeding moms love their babies as much as I love mine. But they'll never know the connection that tube of plastic prevents. I've never heard any woman say she regretted breast feeding her babies. I have heard many women say they regretted NOT doing so. I wouldn't miss this for the world.
From Shelley J: My decision to breastfeed initially was not a strong one. I decided while pregnant that I would like to "try" to breastfeed but that I wouldn't be upset if it didn't work out. After all, everyone bottlefeeds, right?
I remember the moment I met my precious, beautiful, special baby boy. As he lay in my arms searching with his mouth for my breast, I understood suddenly that I was meant to breastfeed him. My body was ready to nourish this perfect, sweet, innocent human with the milk that no one else could make for him. If only things were that simple . . .
The first weeks were difficult. TJ and I didn't quite get the hang of breastfeeding right away, and there were many tears (on both sides), and even some formula supplementation. Several times I decided to give up and simply feed my son formula, but something compelled me to keep trying to breastfeed. My decision to continue was one of the best I've ever made.
TJ is now nine months old and is a happy, healthy, well-nourished young man. The glow in his eyes when he nurses is precious, and his sweet grins with a mouthful of mommy's milk are worth more than the world's riches. The bond between TJ and me is indescribable, although many have had glimpses of it as he nurses and I gaze down at him. My husband regards us with a look of reverence and awe, proud that his wife and son find such complete happiness in each other. Although I could say much more about why I choose to breastfeed, perhaps the best reason is the knowledge that I sacrificed, persevered, and overcame despite many difficulties to give my son the precious gift of my milk. Breastfeeding has been our second successful "Mommy-n-Me" project, birth being the first!
From NancyGar: I breastfeed my baby because I feel that it is the best way I can provide her with all the nutrients she needs. I am her provider, I have provided her a life and now I will provide a way for her to thrive. Breastmilk gives her the antibodies she needs and no formula can ever provide that. I give her breastmilk to provide for warmth and love. Breastmilk is the least likely for her to be allergic to. The breastmilk is much easier for her little body to process than formulas. I have provided her with the breastmilk she needs to have an optimum life.
From Trixi: This is difficult to answer with words! I delivered Alexander via C-section (after hours of a failed induction) and was so tired and so sore. It seemed that the hospital conspired against me - I got no sleep! And, it seemed that my baby was brought to me every 1/2 hour to breastfeed. My nipples were sore, I hallucinated about sleep.
The second night I had slept for a blessed hour when I heard the cries of my baby down the hall. "Oh, no" I thought, "he wants to eat AGAIN!?" When the nurse brought him in to me, he had a cheerful green and white crocheted infant cap on with a big white pom pom on top! His bright blue eyes were wide open and shining. He looked so sweet and funny - like a little clown! His mouth opened wide as the nurse handed him to me and he latched on practically before he got to the breast in his eagerness! It was at that moment I truly bonded and fell in total unconditional love with my baby. We have been best pals ever since. The sight of that hat on his head still makes me smile. Suddenly sore nipples and no sleep were nothing compared to the sight and feel of my little cub nursing at my breast.
From Erin: This question floods my mind with words and phrases, as I have had 2 experiences with breastfeeding so far, and now I am to have a third.
With my daughter 7 years ago, I half-heartedly "tried" to breastfeed. I had NO support, not even from the nurses in hospital. I feel this is because I was only 18 and didn't acquire any knowledge of the "art", before giving birth, and was too "intimidated" (because of my age) to ask for help. Not to mention, they just kept bringing me those bottles of formula! I did genuinely want to succeed, however I gave up after a week . . . and felt like a failure as well.
With my son, 5 years later, I was older, more firm with my caregivers, and I self taught myself everything I thought I'd need to know about Breastfeeding. I had wonderful support form the ladies on this board at that time. When my son was born, I was blessed with a "natural" nurser as well. He was a pro, and so it took no time at all for us to get into it.
This time around I want to breastfeed even longer, but I am having fears that it will not be easy. I am determined to get through it all, and I have LOTS of support this time as well.
So in conclusion, breastfeeding has meant different things to me at different times in my life. At one point it essentially meant hopelessness and failure. Then it represented accomplishment and pride that I was finally able to accomplish what others had said I would not. That I gave my son THE BEST that is for him . . . there is no feeling in the world to describe it. Now it is an unknown . . . will it work?. . . will there be troubles? . . . Or am I needlessly worrying? I suppose only time will tell!
From ilmok: What does breastfeeding mean to me? Well, when I had my first baby, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her. I was young, only 21, but I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I still lived at home with my parents, though, and they knew nothing about breastfeeding. Either did I. I didn't read any books, heck, I didn't even know there were any such books. When I got home from the hospital, and I was at a total loss. My nipples were bleeding, and I was crying from the pain. My mom decided that something must be wrong, so she gave her a bottle of the free formula we got in the mail. I nursed my first child only once more after that bottle. Oh, I can remember so vividly the day my milk came in. I was taking a shower, when all of a sudden, I felt the strangest sensation in my breasts. I looked down to see my nipples standing straight out, with milk, my milk, her milk streaming out, and being washed away with the water. I got so excited, I started calling out to my mom, and I told her, "look, milk is just pouring out!! I can do it!" She looked at me and laughed, then she went on to tell me, the benefits of formula, and how much more freedom I would have, yada yada yada. She got out some old sheets, and cut them up. She put cloth diapers on my breasts, and used the sheets to hold them in place. She made sure they were nice and tight. She was "binding" me as she put it. I stood there with tears streaming down my face. It just didn't feel right. When she drank her bottles, she was just eating, nothing more. I didn't think twice about going back to work, or going out to have a few beers with my friends, or even going away for a few days to party. After all, my mom was there to feed her. Two years later I had my second child. I was married and not living at home anymore. I told my dh that I was going to nurse this baby, and that I had to have him be my support. I also had a dear friend offer me a few books and advice. I went on to nurse her for over 3 years!!! I am now nursing my son 11 months, and going strong. No one can feed my babies but me. I get to form a bond with them that no other can match. So, what does breastfeeding mean to me? To me, it means everything. It changed my life.
From Min: When my second daughter was born six weeks early, I felt like I had failed her, that my body had betrayed this precious child. She had some complications and was put on an IV so I could not breastfeed for a few days. All of the nurses and my friends told me to plan on formula feeding. Preemies get too tired at the breast, and it would be nearly impossible to bring my milk in with a pump. This was what I was hearing day in and out. But I was bound and determined to let my body do something right for her. I pumped every hour and a half, and when I got 15 ccs I was ecstatic. Then my milk came in, I had done it. A day or two later she was taken off of the IV and able to try and nurse. I saw her eyes looking at me and her mouth open like a little bird and at that moment I knew I hadn't failed her. Even if she was not inside me any longer, I could still give her the nourishment she needed. So for me breastfeeding means extending the gift of life. Giving her the things that only I can, and building a mutual bond. I cannot imagine my life without Alia, my daughter, and that life chose to be breastfed. I thank the heaven that I listened to my heart and soul and not people around me.
From Andrea: I still remember that warm weekend morning. The 3 year old and 5 month old nursing side by side while the beautiful mother smiled at her children. So who was I? The mother? No, I only have one so far. I was the daughter. The 3 year old who nursed next to her baby brother, and remembers it fondly. So now, you ask, why do I breastfeed my daughter? I could give you a list of how science has proven breastmilk to be superior. But will I? No. The simple fact is that even if science hadn't discovered how amazing breastmilk is, I would still breastfeed.
I breastfeed because it is the most perfect thing I can ever do for my daughter. I feel lucky to have my toddler curl up next to me and cherish each drop. Sometimes I make funny faces at her and I watch her giggle between gulps.
I was recently talking to my mother, and she mentioned how much my daughter reminds her of me. To which I replied "if she is like me, I will be only the luckiest of mothers". "That's what I am," my mom said "only the luckiest of mothers". My sentiments exactly.
From Gwen: I love the snuggle and closeness that we both feel at her special feeding times. Even though we have had sooooooo many frustrating problems I can't bring myself to quit, because I love the times when she will breastfeed so much. My favorite time is in the morning when we first get out of bed. She will usually nurse. It is so cute because she will take a few drinks, pull off gently and then look up at me and smile and coo, and then nurse again. She will do the pull off smile and nurse again thing for about 15 minutes. It is her way of telling me she loves me, and it makes me feel so special.
From tif_bump: I breastfeed my son because I can. Who else can be everything he needs and loves? Infancy is such a brief moment in my son's life, and when he is grown I will have such fond memories of the time spent with him cradled in my arms. Yes, I know there are many valuable medical, economical and developmental reasons for breastfeeding my son . . . but I do it because I love him.
From kasper8: When I was 10, I decided to breastfeed my children. How could formula possibly duplicate a mother's milk? 20 years later, I gave birth to my first child, a beautiful baby boy . . . and he aggressively refused to latch. No problem, I thought, - he'll latch later. On day 2, I started to pump and cup feed my colostrum. No problem - he'll latch when the milk comes in. On day 4, my milk came in. No problem - he's still young. On day 7, we started using bottles. No problem - lots of babies use bottles for a short while. On day 10, we tried a nipple shield. It worked!
And so started our breastfeeding experience. I fed my son around the clock and pumped after every feed to maintain my supply. Each day, I made the decision to stick with it "just one more day". Finally, at 8 weeks old, my son latched. I expected smooth sailing, but dear son had other ideas. He'd scream and fight at most feedings. When he was 3 months old, I figured he'd been through enough and offered him a bottle, but to my surprise, he wouldn't take it!
Overactive let-down? Reflux? Impatient child? Perhaps I'll never know. But I do know that I'm giving my baby the best nutrition available and he's thriving. No problem.
From twinsmegmac: Some people try to tell me I am just making things harder for myself and that I would be more relaxed to bottle feed. That is so not true! Breastfeeding has saved my sanity. I was a bottle fed baby but on top of that my mother was not a very loving woman. I was really shown no loving gestures throughout my childhood and to this day it is the same way. Sure, my mom loves me. But she just didn't know how to show it because she was raised that way. As I got older I was determined to be different towards my children. And when I was pregnant I looked and thought of ways to make sure I would be a mother that showed her love and rocked her baby to sleep and picked him/her up when she cried. Or picked him up for no reason at all. I knew that if I bottle fed I would end up being the type of mom that always propped the bottle for no reason at all. I wouldn't be forced to hold my babies when they wanted to be fed. And with breastfeeding I knew I could bond with them and that it would encourage me to show my love. I had to teach myself to do this. I had to teach myself to show my babies that I loved them. The hormones that go with breastfeeding I think are completely amazing. They are that secret little ingredient that make us follow our babies' cues. Why else would we have them?
I am not making things harder for myself. I am making life easier for myself as well as my beautiful daughters. I also think it's amazing to me that through breastfeeding I can join in the bond that they share with each other.
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