Monday, December 20, 2010

The Gift of Confidence

Welcome to the December Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's theme is the gifts of breastfeeding. You'll find more posts on this topic linked at the bottom of this one.

When I was pregnant in 2007, I knew that I was going to breastfeed. It never even crossed my mind to bottle-feed my baby. Breastfeeding was normal, natural and provided the baby with the perfect food as well as immunities. I also knew there were fringe benefits for me, including easier post-partum healing, weight loss (allegedly!) and a decreased risk of breast cancer down the line. What I didn’t know was that breastfeeding would in many ways shape the way I mothered my baby and the gift of confidence it would give me.

Like many modern moms, the message I seemed to get from everyone around me was that you didn’t want to hold your baby too much, that it was good for your baby to cry sometimes, that I should let someone else watch the baby so I could get a break, etc. But because I was breastfeeding, my baby really needed to be near to me and held constantly. Because I was breastfeeding, my baby rarely cried and when he did I assumed he needed to nurse and so I let him. I couldn’t really pass him off to anyone else for more than a few minutes, so I bought a sling so I could keep him near me and still get things done. I quickly found that sleeping with my baby made breastfeeding easier and helped all of us to sleep better, so we co-slept as well.

All of these things made me feel so confident as a new mother. Once we got breastfeeding worked out, I never had to really worry about anything. Baby fussy? Stick him on the boob. Tired? A little nursing and he’ll be out like a light. I knew how to keep my baby calm and happy, and it made me a happy and calm mama! On more than one occasion I had people remark that they were surprised this was my first baby because I seemed so confident, that new motherhood had left them frazzled, but I seemed serene. I give the credit to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding gave me the gift of confidence to follow my instincts and parent my baby my way. What gifts has breastfeeding given to you?

Check out the other participants in this month's Carnival!

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: A gift I never expected
Momma's Angel: The 12 gifts of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Moms Unite: The gift that keeps on giving
Motherhood Actually: The gift of life: breastfeeding during a time of war
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: The intangible gifts of breastfeeding
The Milk Mama: Breastfeeding: My baby's gift to me

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