I recently hit the first-year mark in my breastfeeding journey and I must say, the experience has been very different from what I thought it would be! But looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every breastfeeding journey is beautiful even if it looks different as expected. Here’s my story.
I was the expectant mom who tearfully watched videos of birth stories, bawling my eyes out as soon as the doctors placed the baby on the mother’s bosom for the first time. I couldn’t wait but to experience my own skin to skin contact with my baby after delivery, which is also known to increase successful breastfeeding introduction.
However, I gave birth via emergency C-section and was asleep during the operation, only woken up to the sound of my baby’s cry and a quick photo with her. Our first latch happened in the wee hours in the recovery room, and I was amazed with how my baby instinctively knew how to do it! We were both fully dressed, and no skin to skin contact happened.
Though it wasn’t the turn of events I expected, the beginning of our story as mom and daughter was meaningful in itself. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As soon as I stepped in my third trimester, I started to make arrangements with all the part-time and freelance work I am involved with, looking forward to maximize my 105-day maternity leave. I anticipated days of resting, recovering, and establishing a breastfeeding routine with our baby. However, through the physical, mental, and emotional changes postpartum, I mustered the strength to cut my maternity leave short so I can help with the ballooning expenses while simultaneously looking after our daughter.
I started doing online classes for kids in my second month postpartum, and with my immediate supervisor’s permission, I continued to breastfeed on demand. I just had to make sure that the camera was angled in a way that feeding my baby wasn’t obvious. I found it really challenging to adjust to the new setting, but it was possible!
The sleepless nights in the first month was disorienting, but my body learned to adapt to the new routine. In our third month, I had to face another novel and inevitable experience: to breastfeed in public for the first time! It happened in a hotel lobby while waiting for our turn to be checked in. It didn’t feel awkward as I thought it would. If anything, I felt proud and confident that my body can perform such amazing work for my baby. Thanks to my breastfeeding-friendly dress that also made the experience so convenient, that a nursing cover isn’t needed any longer.
I read that many moms don’t get their period until their sixth month postpartum. As expected, I bled after giving birth, but the red days didn’t resume after a month. I sent a message to my OB on my sixth month to ask if not having my period back yet is normal. She said it’s just normal for a breastfeeding mom, and it’s called lactational amennorhea. According to her, some breastfeeding moms would have their period 12 or so months after giving birth. With her permission, I started to take Vitamin C and iron supplements again.
A few weeks before my baby’s first birthday, I finally had my period back. My mom friends would attest to having lower milk supply during their period, so I made sure I was always well-hydrated and I maintained my healthy eating.
As a first time mom, I thought breastfeeding my little one meant having to hold her in the sweet, cradle position for a long time. Funnily enough, this was only true before she learned how to be mobile! There came a time when she didn’t want to be held like a baby anymore. She would move out of the cradle position and move around a lot while breastfeeding. It became more and more difficult for me to feed her as months went by, but my husband and I would always be amused with her antics and gym-nurse-tics.
Of all the expectations I shared here, this is the only one that proved to be a reality. There’s no other way to put it. I wake up in the middle of the night hungry and thirsty, and I sneak into our fridge or pantry for a quick bite and glasses of water or milk. I feel drained even when I haven’t accomplished anything yet, but here’s the thing: now that I have gone beyond my first year mark as a breastfeeding mom, I still have to remind myself that breastfeeding is work in itself, and I have the privilege to be doing it for our little one until she decides to wean.