My body isn’t mine. It hasn’t truly been mine since May 5-ish, 2014. If you’re pro-choice then you may not really agree with me on this, but this post isn’t about my views on abortion. We’ll save those for another day. What I mean by my body not being mine is that once there’s a baby growing in your uterus, your body changes. Inside and out.
Hormones start raging, your skin gets stretchy, you start sweating if it’s anywhere above 70*, you might be sick 24/7 and lose a bunch of weight, you might be starving 24/7 and gain a bunch… crazy things happen. And let’s not forget what happens to your brain. Pregnancy brain? It’s a real thing. And you know what follows pregnancy brain? MOM BRAIN! It ain’t pretty, folks!
My body hasn’t been mine since May 2014. That is when I got pregnant with my first babe. Obviously, being pregnant really requires you to give your body to the baby and do what’s best to help it grow. Eat as healthy as you can, maintain a healthy calorie intake, drink lots of water, no alcohol or drugs, exercise regularly, take your prenatal vitamins (OR Juice Plus+!) Once you finally get to hold that precious baby in your arms instead of your belly, it’s like heaven! And in many cases, this is when some women start working to “get their body back”. This is not the case for me.
Breastfeeding is and always will be a huge goal in my parenting style. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for up to two years. Pediatricians here in the U.S. generally recommend breastfeeding for one year if possible. I think it’s important for a mom to celebrate small goals but still have a large one in mind. If you make it 6 weeks nursing, that is a HUGE accomplishment, every month or two after that is even better. Make it 6 months? Awesome! 9 months, great! A year! WOOHOO!!!! Anything more than that… your babe is getting perfectly tailored nutrition so keep on keeping on!
For me and my first baby, nursing was SO HARD! It took us eight weeks to really get things figured out. EIGHT WEEKS! That’s TWO FULL MONTHS of bleeding, sore, cracked nipples, and a fussy, hungry baby trying to latch. It isn’t easy! But oh is it so worth it! Once you finally figure things out, it gets good. Like way good. Like you put your bare boob in your babies face and they do all the work from then on regardless of whether it’s dark at 3 a.m. or not kind of good.
With my first baby, my goal was to nurse for a year. I read a bunch of mom blogs and had it all planned out by the time I was 6 months pregnant. I’d do everything I had to make breastfeeding work, I’d start pumping super early to make sure I built up a good supply and store as much milk as I could and then I’d be able to quit nursing when my baby was 9 or 10 months old because I’d have plenty of supply built up by then. Meanwhile, my body would shrink to almost unhealthy levels of skinny while I ate whatever I wanted because making milk takes up a ton of calories. HA! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
As it turns out, I didn’t want to wean at 9 or 10 months. I didn’t want to wean at 12 months. And I’m pretty sure I would have still been nursing both my babies at the same time if pregnancy hormones hadn’t slowed down my supply big time. I got pregnant with baby #2 when #1 was 13 months. We nursed for two more months after that, and ended up weaning during a trip where I sent my little girl to my parents’ house for a long weekend before meeting them down there. It wasn’t easy, but we didn’t have much choice since my supply was so low and Grace was only nursing a couple times each day anyway. It worked out perfectly.
Anyway, reeling this back in… nursing baby #2 is much easier because let’s just say your nips are in much better breastfeeding condition, and you know what to expect otherwise. For me, that means until I quit nursing, my body still isn’t truly mine. It is still working for and dedicated to another individual. It is still operating out of the “normal” setting. And as frustrating as that is… for me, it’s ok.
If you’re preparing for your first (or subsequent) baby, just remind yourself of your priorities. Remind yourself how much you’d rather nurse for 5, 7, 10 months instead of hitting pre-baby weight. Remind yourself how you’d rather give it your all to not have to pay for formula. Remind yourself of the perfectly tailored nutrients your milk has for your baby. And if or when you do decide quit, regardless of the circumstances, be PROUD of the effort you gave. Be proud of the sacrifices you made whether it is the extra pounds you couldn’t get rid of or the hours of sleep you didn’t get. Be proud of the mom you are!