As a lactation consultant in the hospital setting, I have had the pleasure of walking alongside thousands of moms and babies as they are beginning their breastfeeding journey. It is a true honor to be invited in to some of the most intimate moments in a family's life. On one particular day, I was visiting with a new mother whose baby had to be taken to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As we sat together in her baby's room, she was pumping her breasts and relaying to me many of the struggles she was facing as the mother of a sick and premature infant. Her dreams of an unmedicated and natural delivery were gone. Her hopes of putting her baby to the breast right after delivery were never realized. The cold hum of the breast pump had replaced the soft, warm skin of her baby on her chest. The picture perfect start to this mom's breastfeeding journey was anything but perfect.
But here she sat, milk pouring from her breasts. Literal life-giving milk. Medicine for her fragile baby. She may have lost control of many of the aspects surrounding the timing and circumstances of her baby's birth, but she was determined to be in control of the one thing she could control - pumping her breasts to build a full milk supply for her growing baby. She laughed with tears on her cheeks, looked down and pointed to her breasts and said, "Just look at these milk jugs!" Her body was different, but so was her heart. Those "milk jugs" represented love and commitment and struggle and messiness (literally!) and power and strength. Those "milk jugs" represented life. New life in the form of a baby that was thriving on her mama's milk, but also new life for a woman beginning this new role of motherhood.
Are you embracing the change and the messiness that mothering can bring? Are you doing the hard things for yourself and the ones you love? Breastfeeding is a beautiful choice we make for our babies, but it's not without struggle at times. Surround yourself with knowledgable support so that you can overcome the challenges along the way. Learn to laugh and learn and grow as each season in life changes. Join with me and thousands of others as you become a Milk Jug Mom!