National Breastfeeding Awareness Month: a letter to myself

breastfeeding-baby-national-breastfeeding-awareness-monthAugust is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

In honor of the event, I thought I'd write a letter about breastfeeding...to myself. This letter would have helped me immensely three years go, when I was hugely pregnant and just about to welcome my firstborn daughter into the world.

Here it is - a letter from the post-kids me to the pre-kids me.

Please keep in mind that this is a letter to me and may not necessarily apply to your particular situation or experience. This is not medical advice. It is, quite simply, what I would have wanted to know way back then.

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Dear Stephanie,

You are about to embark on the most incredible journey of your life. Motherhood is going to change your life in ways you can't even imagine. You'll scream when you feel your baby's head crowning. And then - in that moment - you will be forever changed.

The love that you feel will be overwhelming, glorious, miraculous, mesmerizing. I know you think you know what that will be like, but you don't. You really don't.

You'll be amazed when your newborn is placed on your bare chest, skin-to-skin. You'll look up and smile at your husband - joyful, triumphant. And then - miracle of miracles - your baby will move her head to your chest and begin suckling as if she's done it one hundred times before. It will be natural. It will be beautiful...

But then it will be painful. You will bleed. You will crack. You will cry. Your knuckles will grasp your chair and you will bite your lip to keep from screaming.

But it will be worth it. It will be amazing. Nursing will bond you to your baby deeply, so deeply. You'll soon begin to regard milk as "magic" because it calms your baby, soothes her, nourishes her, protects her.

It won't be a piece of cake in the beginning though.

To make things easier on yourself, be sure to have the following products on-hand:

lansinoh lanolin creamLansinoh Lanolin Nursing Cream
lansinoh ultra-soft nursing padsLansinoh Ultra-Soft Nursing Pads
melinda g nursing brasNational Breastfeeding Awareness Month: a letter to myself 13 Good Nursing Bras:

- Melinda G Tee-Shirt Nursing Softcup #2115

- Melinda G 2160 Glorious Contour Tee-Shirt Soft Cup Nursing Bra

- Bravado Microfiber Nursing Bra

bebe au lait nursing coverBebe au Lait Nursing Cover
majamas nursing pajamasMajamas MJ Maternity/Nursing Pajamas (or another nursing nightgown/PJ set)
my brest friend nursing pillowMy Brest Friend or Boppy nursing pillow

Also, remember these things:

  1. Forget the nursing logs and ignore the clock. The nurse will give you a chart to "record" all of your baby's feedings and peeings and poopings. Put it aside and sleep instead. Feed your baby whenever she seems hungry. Don't try to feed her by the clock. Relax.
  2. Learn to nurse lying down - pronto. The sooner you can learn this technique, the more sleep you will get. If necessary, call up one of your friends who is a nursing mama and have her demonstrate.
  3. Co-sleep without shame. Co-sleeping is a boon for nursing moms. You don't have to tiptoe around the subject. Co-sleeping is good for you and your baby. You'll sleep better. She'll sleep better. Do it proudly.
  4. Nurse in public without hesitation. There's no need to feed her in a roasting car or in a locked bedroom. Wear a nursing-friendly top or a camisole under your tee, bring your nursing cover along, and you'll be able to nurse discreetly and modestly with ease. Anywhere. Anytime.
  5. Don't feel pressure to leave your baby. You will prefer to have your baby with you. Your husband will feel the same. But "outside sources" will try to convince you that you should go on a date night or attend a Christmas party without your baby. Just smile and say, "no thank you."
  6. Enjoy every single moment of baby bliss. Babies are only babies for a little while. You won't be able to imagine it now, but pretty soon you'll blink and a beautiful, bright, compassionate preschooler will be in front of you. She'll be gorgeous. She'll be kind. She'll be a great conversationalist and a deep thinker. But now - right now - she's your baby. Hold her and kiss her and stare at her all you want.

Signed,

An older, wiser, more experienced YOU

P.S. It's okay to let your baby sleep on her tummy (she is right beside you, after all..and you are totally tuned into her breathing patterns). She will sleep so much better that way - and so will you.

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20 comments on “National Breastfeeding Awareness Month: a letter to myself”

  1. LOVE IT! Thank you so much for this post. It's so true. After bfing for one year and two weeks so far, I wouldn't have it any other way. It was really difficult at first, but has become the best bonding experience with my son. #1 is so true.

  2. Great post! Go breastfeeding!! I never mastered the nursing lying down, but I think I will really need to with baby #2.

  3. This is a great letter and great advice.

    Co-sleeping is the best thing ever. Lily wakes up and nurses and I don't have to get up, what could be better?

  4. Awe-so true almost made me cry!!

    It is so very special and thanks for sharing. I intend to read it again after my son is born which could be as early as next week, considering he's breech and my amniotic fluid is low. Thanks so much for the beautiful letter.

  5. This is so close to my experience with breastfeeding! It's so important for new moms to be warned that it is tough, but oh, so very worth it. And, the charts they give you to fill out...craziness. Wish I had ditched those. I love your p.s. My baby wouldn't sleep on his back. It took a whole lot of reassurance from my mom for me to be willing to break with "doctor's orders" and let him sleep on his tummy. Boy, was I glad when I did!

  6. I'm so thankful for the older nurse, mother of five, who started nursing school when her youngest started kindergarten that was my night time nurse for the first few nights Sugar was here. She told me so many of these things as she helped me walk the halls after my C-Section. (She did have to add the "this is my personal experience" disclaimer and I promised not to tell the other nurses!) And I agree with Jenny N. - Baby #2 was much simpler, I knew what we needed to do, what worked for us and simply told the nurses how it would be. Oh and that whole feeding log thing... yeah, um... I didn't fill that out for either baby! Too busy enjoying the new life and getting into the mothering rhythm to remember to write that stuff down!

  7. I wish I would have had a letter like that written to me as well. The funny thing is that I would have never fully understood it. I don't think you can understand the depth of the statements you made until you experience it. :)

  8. Beautiful! I especially like #5. What's with all the pressure to leave your newborn (or even older) baby??? It's such a short season of life!

  9. "P.S. It’s okay to let your baby sleep on her tummy" HAHAHAHA I would totally include this in my letter to myself. I would add "besides which, it's not like she'll stay on her back unless you pin her sleeper to the mattress..."

  10. Woot! Woot! This is me giving you fist pumps in the air.

    I think the best part about baby #2 is not being afraid to break the rules or embarrassed to do something that is good for my baby. With baby #2 I have more confidence to do what I think is best and ignore all other input. I'm her mother after all. I loved this whole post! Thanks, Stephanie!

  11. I'm going to agree with all of the other responses - this is a beautiful post! Breast feeding my two year old daughter was one of the best decisions that I made as a new mother. I'm really looking forward to breast feeding our second baby when she arrives this fall. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  12. What a beautiful and honest account of your experience. Breastfeeding is one of those most natural, life-changing things(also misunderstood by the masses) that I personally will cherish the rest of my life - I type as my 14-month-old sits and manhandles my right breast into her mouth.=)

  13. I love this post. Another good thing instead of just writing this to you is write it to each of your daughters. Let them know how it was for you. For each time your breastfed. I kept a written journal the whole time I was pregnant with my daughter. It was written to her. I wrote everything that happened in my pregnancy and wrote tips along the way. I plan on giving that to her when she has her first baby. Of course that is many years from now but I know she will appreciate the time I took to do that for her.

  14. I love this entire post - and agree with it all. I had many dirty looks thrown at me for nursing in public, and nursing until my son was 2 and for co-sleeping - but it was what I felt was right -- I did research on it all and loved every minute of it!!

    How long did you nurse your oldest? Do you plan on nursing the baby the same amount?

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