Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What I love about breastfeeding

By To-wen Tseng. Original posted on San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition Blog.

Ah, breastfeeding! There’s nothing like that. Forget about the scientifically proved health benefits. Think it as pure joy for both mom and baby.

My first birth experience (and so far the only experience) was not very pleasant. 
I was in labor for more than 20 hours and ended up with an emergency C-section. I seriously (and sillily) thought I was going to die. When all was over and the nurse handed me the crying newborn, I barely had the strength to take him. And when I finally held him in my arms, I felt nothing, not the “love at first sight” that everybody has been talking about, but exhausting.

Then everything amazingly changed in two hours, when the baby first cried for food. A nurse showed me how to latch the baby. Soon as I brought him onto my breast, he widely opened his mouth and latched on. It was just great. Now I truly felt like I belong to my baby and he belongs to me.

That was the moment I became a mother.

I did not have a breastfeeding plan when I was pregnant. During a prenatal interview with my future pediatrician, I said, “I’ll try to breastfeed if I actually have milk.”

He told me, “Virtually every mother has milk. You’ll get plenty of breastfeeding support at the hospital.”

“Whatever,” I thought to myself.

But breastfeeding is truly a learning behavior. I learned to breastfeed and learned to love breastfeeding. Now, for me, breastfeeding is one of the best ways to enjoy being a mother.

I love breastfeeding sessions. They are the quality time I share with my baby. I have told him many stories I casually came up with while nursing. They can also be “my time.” I have watched an entire series of Case Closed, my favorite Japanese Animation as a teenager, on my iPad through several breastfeeding sessions.

I love the cabbage leaves that relieve breast engorgement. My husband said my cabbage leaf bikini top is cute.

I love pumping my breast milk and watch how I can get nine oz of milk out of a 10-minute pumping session. I love to fill my freezer with frozen milk. It makes me feel productive.

I love discovering how much I can do with only one hand. I surprisingly learned that, while holding my baby to my breast, I can also feed my cat, type on computer, or do my makeup...all with one hand.

I love applying my own breast milk on my face. It works even better than the most expensive facial mask.

Although I do not enjoy pumping in a bathroom stall, sometimes I just have no choice. I love reading funny bathroom literature. I would never read those if I did not spend those pumping sessions in different bathrooms.

I love the understanding I built with my baby through breastfeeding. I have mastered his hunger cues and am proud that I can offer what he needs, knowing that I am his world.

I love how the baby eagerly draws my nipple into his mouth and gently suckles until my letdown; I love how his little hands softly rest on my breast while nursing; I love how his eyes close when he gets “milk drunk...”

The list can go on and on. Even those breastfeeding problems are somewhat lovely--

Latching on can hurt like a hundred little knives twisting off my nipple, but thanks to that, I learned that Lansinoh that treats sore nipples also makes the best lip balm!

So, what’s NOT to love about breastfeeding?

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