As moms, we are in it together – raising the future. We are a tribe of future makers. So let’s support each other.” – Marissa Hermer
No other job requires as much heart and strength as being a mother. We try our hardest to do and be the very best for our children. After researching and doing what we think is best, especially when our children are newborns, we are then often bombarded with everyone else’s thoughts on whatever “it” might be. Family, friends, and even strangers seem to always be offering unsolicited parenting advice. The pressure of people telling you what to do and what is best for your child can make you question if you really are doing what is best. Am I making the right decision? Am I good enough? Am I failing at the most important job I have?! The struggle is real. The comparison. The worry. The stress. I found none of this more true than when it came to breastfeeding.
As a first time young mother, I spent hours reading up on everything I could when it came to having and raising a child. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. What I didn’t know is that breastfeeding doesn’t always “just happen” naturally. Shortly after my son was born, he was given to me to breastfeed. I put him to my breast and he didn’t latch. That was the first time I doubted myself as a mother, and it was mere minutes after my son came into this world…
We all know the studies that show “breast is best,” but what we often aren’t told is that breastfeeding can be hard and it takes practice. Sometimes it can take days, weeks, or even months for you AND baby to get the hang of it. I think most moms have felt the pressure that they must breastfeed, whether this be self driven or from reading about all that good that comes from it. The reality is not all moms can or will choose to breastfeed. As moms, we want to support and encourage all fellow mothers; those that choose to breastfeed, those who are unable to breastfeed, and those who decide it simply isn’t something they want to do. The real truth is, “fed is best.”
I was lucky enough to have an amazing OB/GYN who crawled into my hospital bed with me, wrapped her arms around me and helped me breastfeed. She laid with me until my newborn son latched, reassuring me I could do it and reminding me to not get frustrated. If it was not for her patience, support and encouragement I am not sure I would not have given up. Breastfeeding mamas, or those who are expecting and wanting to breastfeed, here are some words of encouragement for you:
You are the best mother you can be.
Be proud of yourself for doing the best you can for your baby.
It will get easier.
Baby is learning too.
You can ask for help.
You are not failing.
There is no such thing as being the perfect mom.
Do what works for you.
Trust your body.
Find your village.
Although motherhood is beautiful and awe-inspiring, it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. Having a support system of moms who have walked in your shoes, to help when you are at your lowest low, is invaluable. Whether you breastfeed, supplement with formula, or strictly bottle and formula feed your child – you are doing your best! You are and will continue to do what is best for your child. No matter what anyone else says, thinks, or imposes.
Breastfeeding did get easier for me. And although I wanted to breastfeed exclusively for the first 3 months, I decided to supplement with formula. As a single mother I did not feel like I was getting anything done other than feeding my child. Little known fact, “Breastfed babies eat more often than bottle fed babies because the fats and proteins are more easily digested than the fats and proteins in formula, so they are absorbed and used more quickly.” This is probably why I felt like a feeding machine and was not finding time to do laundry, shower, or any of those other everyday needs you take for granted before baby comes.
Mamas, please remember to support each other. No mother ever said that she received too much support. Try to offer kind words of encouragement to each other and know that we are all doing and trying our very best, breastfeeding or not.
Here’s to all the moms who breastfed, those who tried as long as they could, and those who decided it wasn’t for them.
And many thanks to our lovely group of contributors (who are great moms!) for being a part of this photo shoot!
Photography by Dream Photography Studio.