When I learned that I was pregnant I began researching all things baby, I knew breast milk would be the key source of nutrition for my child. My mom had breast fed me and I had a relatively healthy childhood compared to my brothers who were formula-fed and struggled with asthma and ear infections.
While pregnant, I did research on how to best care for myself and my child. I’m grateful that I was able to take 2 breastfeeding classes before the world shutdown. I learned that breastfeeding could be challenging in the beginning but worth the effort for a healthy mom and baby.
I have been exclusively breastfeeding my child for 4 months. I enjoy breastfeeding. I appreciate the special bond it creates between baby and I. The closeness we share is beyond compare.
In the beginning, it was difficult and painful. Both me and baby were learning about this process. My nipples were sore and cracked. I leaked milk everywhere. Baby Jay would be so eager to feed at times it would be hard to latch, sometimes it would feel like a fight.
After much practice, 10-12 feedings a day, we learned and my body adjusted to his feeding needs. At first, during the nights, I was up every 2 hours, feeding him. During the day he would feed almost every hour and a half. Sleep-deprived and still healing from the miracle of childbirth, I was exhausted. New mom energy propelled me to keep going, to stay hydrated, and keep myself fed.
I became in awe of how my body was able to nourish him. After 20 minutes of suckling at my breast, it would calm his fussiness and be a safe place for him among the noise of this great big world. It became a comfort for us both. To know that I could feed him at any moment without worrying about mixing anything and getting it to be the right temperature. But it also made me fear being away from him. I became so completely attached to him.
I am grateful to my partner and friends who supported me even when others in my circle did not. Well-meaning family members tried to push formula on me, insisting that It would make things easier. They insisted that breast milk wasn’t enough then tried to tell me how much milk to pump and store when they had never breastfed before. I stood my ground and continued to exclusively breastfeed my child, using pumped milk in bottles on occasion. I know that breast milk provides my child with nutrients that cannot be found or recreated.
A few facts about breastfeeding
The history of black women and breastfeeding is not a pleasant one. Trauma exists from slavery where black women were forced to breastfeed white babies while their own babies went hungry. Years later single mothers may not have had the time, support, and education to learn the skill of breastfeeding. I am grateful that I was able to take several breastfeeding classes before giving birth and I had 12 weeks of maternity leave to bond with my son to master our breastfeeding journey.
- “Breast milk is loaded with antibodies, especially immunoglobin A, which can help prevent or fight illness in your baby.” “Formula doesn’t provide antibody protection for babies. Numerous studies show that babies who are not breastfed are more vulnerable to health issues like pneumonia, diarrhea, and infection.” – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-benefits-of-breastfeeding
- “Breastmilk has healing powers: It contains antibodies that defend your baby against infections. A few drops of breastmilk can also soothe a newborn’s diaper rash or sore throat, treat acne, and help alleviate eye and ear infections.” – https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/breastfeeding/15-cool-facts/amp/
- “Breast milk is a living substance that contains live cells, including stem cells, which go on to become other body cell types like brain, heart, kidney, or bone tissue.” https://www.medela.us/breastfeeding/articles/14-fascinating-facts-about-breastfeeding
- “Consistent breastfeeding burns about 500 calories per day.” https://www.thebump.com/a/11-things-you-didnt-know-about-breastfeeding/amp
- “WHO recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health, and thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to be breastfed; and breastfeeding should continue for up to two years or beyond.” – https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/en/