Ten Unexpected Lessons Breastfeeding Taught Me

I have been nursing my child for Four Hundred and twenty two days.

That’s 60 weeks & 2 days

Whoaa!

When I started off I didn’t know I’d last this long.

Hell I didn’t know if I would even be able to feed. Unlike many pregnant mummies, I had zero leakage through gestation. Many would report leaking of Breast milk before the baby came around but here, not even sweat!

We got off to a rocking start for Sass and a rocky one for me. The kid had a killer shark latch. Still does. I would writhe in pain as she would clamp on and read all verses of the Quran that I remember by heart. I always compare it to playing a guitar. When you first start out your fingers bleed but then you grow tougher and it all gets better.

Well yes. That’s the best and closest analogy that popped in my mind.

Breastfeeding changed my life in ways more than one and the obvious. I had a baby stuck to my boob for the most part of a day. That’s inevitable. There are all these other ways that need to be spoken of more often.

1. Sustainability Confidence

As a First Time Mom (FTM) the one thing that’s getting your bowels to freeze in their tracks is, OMG how will I keep this little lemon alive? At least this was (perhaps the only) concern freaking me out C. O. M. P. L. E. T. E. L. Y.

I had never come close to a newborn let alone entrusted with to raise and grow. Is this Tamagotchi for me to keep? Am I adulting enough and right to manage this?

Breastfeeding, no matter how painful and difficult at first gives you the confidence that you are physically sustaining your child. The providing of nutrition straight from your body to the baby’s is a weirdly empowering experience. If you’re not a mum, I can’t explain it. Take my word for it.

2. Organisational Skills

Top. Frikkin. Notch.

When you’re a lactating Mummy, you need to keep a record of everything. Which boob you fed from last, to the total time of nursing per session, number of nappies peed and pooped in. Sassi’s nursing sessions, pee and poop details since the day she was born up until last weekend are all safely recorded. I am on a break from recording anything except her sleep until I can get some vacay time in.

3. Refresher Course in Biology

How to deal with inflammation, clogged duct, thrush, baby poop, it all sounds like a massive refresher on my O levels Human Biology syllabus. Every day you’re dealing with a process that your body is performing, that it never had before your baby arrived and there’s such intricate mechanics behind it.

It never ceases to wow you, yet you get as on top of the entire endocrinology as you possibly can. It’s a nerd’s delight so to speak.

There’s nothing I enjoy more, to be honest. My body is a food generation unit. How amazing is that?!

4. Pain Threshold

Have you ever closed a door or drawers. On your fingers? Yeah. Replace those fingers with a small boneless piece of softest flesh. If you’re a woman reading this, let me make it easier for you. Replace it with your nipple.

Now imagine this happening to you every hour or sometimes even earlier. That’s what the first month of breastfeeding felt like.

I used to dread nursing times. My little shark had a great latch. Just deadly gums to go with it.

Never in my life did I imagine I’d be able to buckle down and willingly bear so much pain despite having an alternate option at all times. Formula.

13 months and 27 days. Successfully breastfeeding and still chugging along.

5. Slow down to Smell the Roses.

Breastfeeding is lonely business. Every other hour you’re usually confined to a quiet corner not because you can’t or won’t nurse in public, I do, by all means, but simply because it just spells out a calmer and less distracted baby. So more focus on the deed and a fulfilling session. Instead of latch on latch off to see who’s talking then latch on and latch off to what’s that sound?

Get the picture?

So yes it does mean you’re by yourself in a quiet place with a newbie human who isn’t yet fit for conversation and usually you can’t do anything while you’re feeding. Especially not in the earlier months.

Sitting in one place. Alone. Quiet.

Gives you an opportunity to slow down. I’ll write in detail what a humbling experience this is because it elicits more respect but it is definitely one of the unexpected things breastfeeding got through to me.

Patience through nothingness while there’s a party going on outside those doors. You get to slow down and build perspective.

Deep thinking like deep breathing flushes your brain of toxins like no other.

6. Body Kickassery

I have newfound respect for my body. I find it SO KICKASS to be producing what remained my baby’s primary source of nutrition for an entire year. Think about it! How kickass does that sound?

I think it is very VERY cool that I physically sustained my child for an entire year until she was able to switch to solids for primary nutrition.

Please note: it’s primary nutrition I say. Where we introduce solids at six months, up until one year, milk (Breast or Formula) remains the primary source of nutrition for a child.

7. Badass Mom

Breastfeeding gives you a high like none other. I don’t think there was a better decision in my life to have set up a company while I was on this hormone induced high of badassery.

You’re in a do-ing mode as opposed to a mostly thinking / contemplating mode. Whatever you plan BAM! You make it happen. NOTHING stands in your way when you need to feed your child, even your body gives way by leakage (have we had those milk spraying moments or what) if you’re restrained by some task or anything.

Your Psychology follows suit. You refuse to admit or even succumb to anything less than action at all times. I think it’s a time of excellence high and we should totally hone it.

8. Body Image

Most of our adult lives are spent worrying about our weight. No matter how much we hate the image of a perfect woman portrayed by Barbie and the Media (Thank you Photoshop!) it takes a lot of grit to actually not care about the number on your scale or that measuring tape as it goes around you.

Breastfeeding, my friend is a kickstarter for Don’t-Give-A-Crap-About-Nothing time in your life. Since you can’t actively restrict your diet for fears of supply tanking, there’s little you can do to get rid of the extra weight your body holds on to for providing sustenance to your feeding baby.

Never in my life did I imagine that I would NOT be bawling my eyes out and losing the will to live at 20 kg above my normal weight and a good 10 inch increase in bust size! Let alone be like, I’ll deal with this once she weans. As long as she’s getting the nutrition she needs, I’ll happily walk around with trucks as boobs.

Disclaimer: it is rare that you see such a sharp increase in weight 2 months postpartum which happened in my case. It doesn’t necessarily happen to everyone? So don’t worry to-be-mommas though you do hold on to some weight and owning it is actually quite liberating.

9. Germolene of a Baby’s life.

This one I LOVE most. Did you know breastmilk pretty much heals EVERYTHING?

From little bug bites, to a rash, to a cut to any irritation, right up to sore nipples themselves. Breastmilk is the magic balm for EVERYTHING. I would just rub some at the sight of a teeny rash or anything at all surfacing and voila. Disappearing act! Not just for the baby. You can use it for sore nipples and air dry and I kid you not, the best creams and balms in the world don’t do it the way some BM does.

Also, not just physical, I call it the emotional Germolene of a baby’s life too. I don’t know how I will raise a weaned child! Right now, the slightest sign of discomfort or anger and pop the nip goes into her mouth and Yayhayyy! Happy baby. That’s my mechanism to keep her happy. What do I do when I don’t have this?

Which leads me to…

10. Emotional Mess

Never did I imagine (especially not through the first month of breastfeeding) that I will break down at the idea of weaning. I’ve considered it twice so far because I tend to get really drained if I end up skipping a meal? Though without fail, I’ve snapped into a “No, not yet!” Within seconds.

Weaning is such a gigantic boulder of emotions that I’m not even prepared to handle it yet. I had no idea this side of life exists.

Prepare to see me bawl over all these pages within the next year or maybe after a year. I don’t know. Let’s see. I’m not ready to talk about it yet (crumbling on the inside to tiny pieces of debris)

BONUS BULLET POINT 11

There is NOTHING more Heart touchingly Soul shaking with absolute cuteness than see a baby drunk on milk. I PROMISE you that. Once they’re done nursing and revert to their favourite sleeping pose all in slow motion you heart falls out of your chest and splats on to the floor like an egg.

Sassi would use my boob as a pillow when done with mauling it and these boobs have never accomplished a better purpose in life. I promise.

Some of her favourite poses (and mine) are etched in my memory for she was too close range for appropriate focal length and rested on my boob in her sleep like literally with a smile on her face, resting her chin on folded hands under her face atop my boob.

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