The Breastfeeding Diaries: Meika from The Dutch Treat

September 11, 2013

My name is Meika, author of The Dutch Treat. I have been wanting to share my breast feeding journey and thought this was a wonderful opportunity on Julie's inspiring blog. I am so happy to be here! I am a wife to my husband Colin and a mom to our 16 month old daughter, Elle. We live in Santa Barbara, California, also where I was born and raised. I am currently still breast feeding Elle and do not have a timeline on when we will stop. Sometimes my breast feeding journey reminds me of the text from Green Eggs and Ham after Sam decides he actually likes them. "And I would breast feed in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox, in a tree, in a car..." You get the picture.

I have been breast feeding Elle on demand for 16 months. I chose to breast feed because of all the amazing benefits and whoa nelly, there is a long list of them. Breast feeding protects your baby from illnesses, from developing allergies, it can enhance your baby's intelligence, protects your baby from obesity, lowers your baby's risk against SIDS, it can also reduce the mom's stress level and risk of postpartum, and it may even reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. An easily overlooked benefit of breast feeding is it helps form an incredibly close bond between mother and child. Breast feeding is one of my proudest accomplishments as a mother. Yet, with all of the joy nursing has brought us, let me tell you, it was not easy in the beginning.

Elle was born to nurse and from birth had an amazing latch. Yet my biggest struggle in those first couple months was the pain that accompanied each feeding. Whoever said that breast feeding should not hurt in my opinion is wrong, simply not correct. I saw multiple lactation consultants when I was in the hospital and at home and I am so thankful I did. It gave me the confidence and encouragement that I needed in those beginning days. If you too are feeling pain, I would strongly advise to ask for help and be persistent. If you have a hospital birth, ring that nurse call button as many times as you need. Breast feeding is a skill, something you need to work at to become good at. Do not give up! I remember thinking at the three month mark, "Am I really going to last a year?" And now look at us - breast feeding is like breathing, effortless and natural

Our breast feeding routine was and is simple, on demand. I work extremely part-time, most of it is done from home, so I was never away from Elle long enough to miss a feeding. She also never took a bottle and went straight to a sippy cup. In those early newborn days, Elle nursed ALL the time, which helped establish my milk supply. She would nurse sometimes from 4-9pm on and off during the so-called "witching hour." The breast soothed her and she would nurse for comfort and nutrition. I never woke her to nurse at night and I believe wholeheartedly in the "never wake a sleeping baby" rule. Elle was sleeping through the night at 10 weeks. I nurse Elle to sleep for naps and before bedtime and it has not created a bad habit as so many people say. Let your baby fall asleep at the breast, it is the most natural reaction for babies especially when they are very young. Elle can easily put herself to sleep without the breast, but both she and I prefer it.

I think the most surprising things about breast feeding now is how comfortable, convenient, and easy it is, just not so much in the beginning. In those first few months your breasts are engorged and nursing covers are a must, but as time progresses breasts soften and nursing in public sans cover is the norm. Breast feeding takes dedication. I remember in those beginning months wearing the same tank top for days because I needed easy accessibility for busting out the boob at any given moment. I have nursed everywhere from airplanes, airports, beaches, hikes, boats, a helicopter, shopping centers, Home Depot, swimming pools, and many more public places. I have never been shamed, only encouraged.

What also surprised me was problems can occur later down the road as I got mastitis.  Mastitis is a breast infection that results in severe breast pain, swelling, warmth, and redness of the breast. I had a fever of 105 and chills that were horrendous. On top of excruciating pain, you have to keep nursing in order to drain the breast, prevent plugged ducts, and keep up milk supply. Luckily, antibiotics got rid of it in a few days, but it really wiped me out.

Breast feeding is an emotional, physical, and personal journey of growth. It really felt like my introduction to motherhood. Once I had the breast feeding thing down, I felt like I could conquer all. The most rewarding aspect of breast feeding is the closeness it has brought to Elle and I. Nursing has been such an incredible bonding experience for us. We have had such tender moments during nursing sessions and actually a lot of laughs.  My heart swells with joy just thinking about our journey through breast feeding.

My advice to new moms is if you want breast feeding to be successful, you need the following: perseverance and a strong pain threshold. Educate yourself, seek help before you give birth: go to a Mother's Circle, La Leche meeting, read books and online forums/stories; anything so that you have resources at your fingertips in case you need it. Get the mother of all nursing pillows: My Brest Friend. Definitely purchase a breast pump. Nurse as frequently as your baby wants.

As parents, we are inundated with information, sometimes too much. There are so many things people tell you as a new mom, but trust yourself and your intuition. Though I fully believe in all of the benefits of breast feeding and am very pro nursing, I also know it is a very personal decision. Sometimes women have a very strong desire to nurse but are not physically able. If you cannot nurse, grieve the loss and move on. Whatever you decide, be confident in your decision. Above all, be kind to one another and offer support and encouragement; that's what we really need more of. 

If you have a healthy baby, guess what? You have it all.

Thank you Julie for your incredible blog and especially this section dedicated to breast feeding. What an awesome community you have created! Thank you again for having me!

 If you would like to contribute your story to the Breastfeeding Diaries, please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail. Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries at the top of my navigation bar.

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3 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Meika from The Dutch Treat”

  1. Beautiful pictures! Love the green eggs and ham quote. So, true that it really just takes determination. Reminds me of a quote I saw, "breastfeeding is 90% determination and 10% milk production."

  2. I love all the photos you have of breastfeeding Elle. I think that's one of my only regrets- I have very few, if any, pictures of me breastfeeding my daughter. I'll have to remember to take more when we have our second child. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Breastfeeding is such a challenge! One of the hardest, and yet most rewarding things I have done! I breastfed my daughter for 1 year and am currently breast-feeding my son and hope to do it until a year. This story truly hits home.


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