Guest Post by Erinn of Embracing Everything
This post is part of the Breast-Kept Secrets: Breastfeeding Advice from One Mom to Another series. Go back and read all posts here.
If I learned anything during the first few months of exclusively pumping, it was that it’s HARD. Not just hard physically but emotionally, too. I became an EP mom when my daughter was six weeks old and I was definitely not past my postpartum stage.
Beyond the fact that I hadn’t fully recovered, I was dealing with A LOT of mommy guilt for not being able to nurse my child. I had dreamt of the days and nights that I would nurse my child and planned on only pumping when I couldn’t get away from work to come home and nurse her.
Imagine my surprise when at four weeks I had such raw nipples that even the idea of nursing sent me into severe pain. I remember my final doctor’s visit before moving to exclusive pumping and the doctor telling me that I was the toughest woman she had ever met after seeing my nipples.
Ouch. My daughter had a posterior tongue-tie that wasn’t found until then. Even after a few weeks in recovery after having it clipped, I was still in no physical shape to nurse. After two weeks of her being bottle fed, we determined this was what was best for our family. I was heartbroken.
Let me clarify here that not all EP moms are like me. Some moms choose to be EP moms from the beginning and others, due to circumstances beyond their control, become EP moms (I fall into this category).
It is so important to have a support system.
I truly believe you will rise or fall based on those around you. If the people you surround yourself with don’t support your choice, you will more than likely quit. If you surround yourself with people who encourage, support, and push you, I promise you can make it.
I determined at four weeks that no matter what decision we had to make, my daughter would receive breast milk. It was our goal and plan from the beginning and I knew it was what was best for her. I want to share the most important things to get under your belt when you’re picking your support group:
1. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.
Not all husbands support breastfeeding. I was blessed with a husband who couldn’t imagine me doing anything else and he was by far my biggest support.
If your husband is on the line or not for it at all, I would encourage you to do some research and share it with him. Be sure to point out all the benefits it will give not only you, but your child, too! The biggest one for me was the reduction in cancer. Cancer is so prevalent in just about every family now that this one was enough reason for me (even though I already advocated breastfeeding from the beginning).
If your husband doesn’t support your decision, this is going to be a hard road for you. You CAN do it without his support but I promise it will be so much easier if you have it.
2. Support yourself.
At the end of the day, you can only control YOU. You own this decision and have to support it yourself before you can ask others to get on board. How do you feel about being an EP mom? Do you believe in why you’re doing it? If you’re unsure, now is the time to start deciding what you believe.
One of the best ways I found to support myself and not get too overwhelmed was I “reevaluated” my decision every three months. I told myself I would commit to three months and then decide if I would keep going. By the time I got to six months, I was in such a routine that I didn’t think about it again until Emma turned one.
No matter how supportive your husband, friends, or family are for you, this is about you making a choice to feed your child breast milk and needs to be one you willingly make. If you don’t support yourself, it doesn’t matter if anyone else does.
3. Be careful who you allow in your circle.
The verse is true that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The same would be true of the people you surround yourself with while being an EP mom. If you surround yourself with people who constantly say things like, “how long is this going to take?,” “why in the world are you wasting your time?,” “is it really a benefit for your child?,” etc, then you need to reconsider who you are allowing in your circle. There are even some comments that are meant to be helpful that become harmful.
My question would be, “why are they so invested in the decisions you make for your child?” Are they the parent? Are they making life-important decisions for your child? If not, then I would ask them to reconsider sharing their opinion when it differs from yours in such a huge way. It’s so important to let the people who are in your circle know how you feel from the beginning. Those who really love and care about you and your child will support you even if it’s not a decision they themselves would make.
4. Make God the center.
This is truthfully the most important step you will take. There were times I would fall on my knees in despair, not sure I could make it one more day. Not sure if I could get another ounce of milk. Not sure I could spend another 2+ hours of my day hooked to a machine. These days were often in the beginning and had I not had the loving support of my Savior, I’m not sure I would have made it through 1+ years of being an EP mom. It was only by Him carrying me that I truly believe I made it. I’m so grateful that I turned it all over to Him and trusted Him to help me and guide me along the way.
As you make the decision, whether by choice or circumstance, to become an EP mom, please consider these things. It will really make a world of difference in the outcome and experience you have! Remember first and foremost that being an EP mom is still being a breastfeeding mom and YOU are doing a job for your child that ONLY YOU can do!
Were you an EP mom? Who did you enlist in your support group?
Erinn is the wife to her wonderful husband, J.R., a mom to her precious little girl, Emma Grayce (1), and an adopted mother to her adorable puppy, Allie (3). She started the idea for Embracing Everything when her daughter, Emma, was born in August of last year. When Erinn and JR were choosing her name, they tried to pick a name that meant something important and signified the life they wanted her to live. Emma means “embracing everything” and this is the life they want her to live. Through that meaning, Erinn decided to write a blog that will cover how they raise their daughter to be the woman God has created her to be through following their lifestyle as well as teaching her in everyday habits, even things as simple as the way she dresses. Be sure to follow her blog, Embracing Everything, as well her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@embracingeverything).