I worried about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. I wondered if I'd struggle with it, if I'd enjoy it or if I'd produce enough milk. I read a lot about how to aid in a good start with breastfeeding like initating the breastfeeding relationship as quickly after birth as possible, nursing as frequently as the baby would like or waking him at least every 2hrs if he doesn't wake himself and to keep trying even if it's hard and there are issues (seeking help when necessary). I had a home birth and initiated breast feeding within 30 minutes of Jericho being born, he suckled like a pro. Jericho cried regularly for the breast and fed often for as long as he would like. My milk came in quickly, I was engorged by the end of his second day of life to which the midwives commented was very quick. By the end of Jerichos first week he'd gained over a pound. Breast feeding came easily and naturally for me. Unfortunately from all the articles I've read and all the new moms I've talked to this definitely isn't the case for most women.
Despite breastfeeding coming naturally to both my son and I I've still had other difficulties. My son is milk protein sensitive and thus I've become dairy free, he has reflux due to a tongue and lip tie (which haven't been released yet) and although breastfeeding is more difficult at times than others I continue because I discovered the jewel of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is like jewel mining. There is so much hard working to be done, it's draining, it's around the clock and it takes effort and perseverance. There is great reward but only after tremendous amounts of work. And even after you discover a jewel there is still more work to be done. Refining the jewel until it is the beautiful stone that you could purchase from a jeweler. Breastfeeding whether it comes naturally or not comes with a host of difficulties, being the sole comforter and food supply round the clock, working hard especially if you have difficulties with latching, sore nipples or a host of other common breastfeeding issues. But just as there is joy in finding a rough precious stone, there is joy in breastfeeding. The small victories, overcoming the difficulties and of course looking down at that precious child being nourished by your precious milk. I've only breastfed my son for 9 weeks, 3 days but I see from those around me and the pethera of articles I've read on breastfeeding that the rough precious stone does become a beautiful jewel by the time the child weans. Consider this quote for example:
"I get you nursies. You sad. Here, Momma." she said, pulling me to her chest. "You go first."
- Credit to "breast memories: remembering the breast feeding years" posted on philyvoice.com
Clearly the jewel of breastfeeding is the loving sensitivity that our children gain. They feel our love and warmth in a way different from any other interaction in either of our lives once weaning is done. The jewel of breastfeeding is you and your child building a forever bond.
So mommas who are struggling, who desperately are passionate about breastfeeding but feel like they can't continue, are having trouble or are tired. You're doing great. Refining that jewel takes time. Keep going. You got this.