Yesterday I shared with you the beginning of the story of Keng-I, one of my fellow dieticians. Keng-I has been a lactation counselor for many years but found when it was time to breastfeed herself that it wasn’t as easy as she thought!
Let’s pick up where we left off…
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing to do as a mammal, but our modern world can add additional challenges.
Four ways to make breastfeeding enjoyable:
- Ask for help: Gender equality may not always be 50/50 in parenthood. I have learned to ask for help and to accept my frustration in the disproportion of infant care that comes with breastfeeding. Support from my husband was one of the most crucial things for me to successfully breastfeed. It took me time to realize what I needed and more time to work out a plan to get more help. I now ask for help. We are figuring it out!
- Use it to replace duties that you even like less: My husband cannot breastfeed the baby, but he can cook for me while I take the time to breastfeed; he can do the laundry so I can have time to shower; he can clean the house so I can drink my water and rest. I needed to ask him to do all that, he did not understand why – this was new for him, too. Even if husbands/significant others are not feeding the baby, they can help with other things which helps the baby still receive the awesome breast milk.
- Take control of nursing and your life: Since I was home with Vincent, I was the default parent. Why would I need time for myself if I was home all day (on my maternity leave) and my husband was at work? Well, I needed it! I even thought that the only way he could understand why I had gone crazy was to take care of the baby for 24 hours. Then, maybe, he can understood why I have gone crazy?! Because I went for weeks without asking for help from my husband, it blew up in our faces with me completely breaking down in tears and in sobbing messes. After each melt down, I did learn lessons! If your husband/significant other says, “I cannot feed the baby”, remember there are many things they can help with! Even if you are home all day with the baby, tell your husband/significant other you need help. Consider him trying just 12 hours alone with the baby so you get a break and he gets a chance to better understand! One of the most helpful pieces of advice I received was to ask my husband to give the pumped milk so I could get some rest. But I learned I would still have to get up and pump. And that was not less work, but at least I had a little bit sense of control and it helped.
- Zone out – watch TV, take your mind off it, when you cannot enjoy it for the 100th time. (trust me, you will soon miss it, sooner than you know)
Why continue to breastfeed?
I continue to breastfeed because I believe in the benefits: preventing allergies, ear infections, cancer, obesity, eczema and intestinal bleeding, along with the nutrients in human milk are more bio-available than in formula. Studies show that breastfeeding is not only the best form of nutrition, it also is crucial for children’s emotional health. In history, humans on average breastfeed our offspring between 2.5 – 7 years. I feel lucky to be able to make an educated decision, one my mom maybe didn’t have. I feel lucky to have had the support of rooming-in and other baby-friendly practices after Vincent was born. Like all moms, I simply want what is best for my baby. I believe every mom is doing the best they can for their baby. Because I believe human milk is the best for Vincent and I can nurse, I will continue!
A quick recap: How to survive the first months of parenthood:
- Ask for help from your husband/significant other. Make a list of all the new tasks that come with the newborn and divide the responsibility. Communicating your needs is key.
- Let go of the small things. The dishes and laundry can wait. Rest is more important.
- It will get better, sooner than you know!
Thank you, Keng-I, for sharing with us your real story of becoming a new parent, along with breastfeeding for the first time. If you liked that story, please check out these others: Why it is cool to breastfeed, How three women overcame breastfeeding challenges and When breastfeeding doesn’t work!