By: Elizabeth Spencer (Guilty Chocoholic Mama)
In the category “Things That Cannot Possibly Be True,” the babies I once breastfed have turned into teenagers. And while it had better be many (many!) years before I have this conversation with my sweet girls, here’s what I’ll tell them about breastfeeding when the time comes.
1. You can be doing everything right, and it still might hurt at first. I certainly do not want to scare or discourage my daughters. Far from it. But I think they need to know that discomfort or pain in breastfeeding—especially initially—does not necessarily mean they’re getting it wrong or that they should give it up. Let’s face it: the breasts are a sensitive part of the body, and unless you’ve lived an unusually alternative lifestyle prior to breastfeeding for the first time, they probably haven’t seen this kind of attention before. Give it some time and care…things will get better.
2. Breastmilk is proof of the genius and creativity of the Creator. Think of all the things doctors and scientists have figured out in the last several thousand years. They’ve cracked DNA code and unwound the whole double-helix thing and probed into cellular activity at the most minute level. But what, exactly, makes breastmilk the wonder it is? They still can’t figure that one out. Probably because they’re not supposed to.
3. Think of the most valuable thing you’ve ever owned. Now understand that “liquid gold” is worth more than any of it. If you decide to pump and store breast milk, those little packages will probably soon surge to the top of your list of “Things Other Than the Children to Grab If the House Ever Catches On Fire.”
4. When you talk to a prospective mate about the possibility of becoming parents someday, be sure to ask what he thinks about breastfeeding. Spoiler alert: you want him to think it’s important and valuable and amazing and something he should and will support enthusiastically.
5. If you marry into a family that considers breastfeeding “weird” or “unnatural,” do not let it discourage you. Look at this as an opportunity to enlighten and inform. Who knows? Maybe you’ll become the family trailblazer on this one, and future generations will rise up and call you blessed.
6. Don’t worry: you’ll know when your milk comes in. Like most new, first-time moms, I worried about, oh, everything. And one of my earliest worries once baby #1 had made her appearance was how I’d know when my milk had really and truly come in. Then one morning I got up, looked in the mirror, and discovered that my almost-As had finally—finally!—ventured into “B” territory. So then I knew.
7. Breastfeeding is one of the first gifts you can give your baby. It’s not just the nutrition, although the complete perfection of that—from complexity to temperature to delivery system—is mind-boggling. But it’s also about the skin-to-skin connection and the bonding and the love-in-action that lays a foundation for so much of what lies ahead. Of all the gifts you’ll give your children over the course of their lifetimes, this is among the first and best.
I can hardly believe a conversation like this with my daughters is already on the distant horizon. But when I need it, I’ll be ready. I’ll tell them these things, and then add the postscript I tag onto most of our talks: I love you.