Blessing Orajiaka’s Breastfeeding Experience

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Tell us about your breastfeeding experience.

Breastfeeding has always been the norm for me, unless there’s a medical reason not to. Initially, I exclusively breastfed my first child for three months, but work commitments and lactation issues forced me to stop. With my second child, I had a smoother experience, taking a one-year maternity leave and exclusively breastfeeding for six months, ultimately breastfeeding for two years. I plan to do the same with my last child. Initially, I was hesitant to breastfeed in public, but that changed over time. For modesty, I wear breastfeeding-friendly clothes or find a private corner. Occasionally, I faced issues like blocked ducts, which I resolved by expressing milk. However, my last child prefers direct feeding on demand.

What does breastfeeding mean to you?

Breastfeeding is a joyful, effortless, and bonding experience. I cherish the unique connection I share with my baby during this time. It’s the easiest way to feed, requiring no utensils, recipes, cooking, or cleanup. Breastfeeding has been a lifesaver, being affordable and convenient, allowing me to feed on the go.

A dark skinned woman sits at a picnic table with baby in her arms.
Blessing Orajiaka, photo submitted.

What has been your greatest breastfeeding accomplishment?

My proudest breastfeeding accomplishment was nursing my second child for two years. Given my first child’s early cessation at seven months, I had doubts, but achieving this milestone was incredibly rewarding. Extended breastfeeding comes with numerous benefits, making it a worthwhile goal.

How have your partner and other children been impacted by your breastfeeding relationship?

There hasn’t been a significant impact on my partner and other children. They can assist by feeding expressed milk when the baby accepts it; otherwise, they rely on me to feed him promptly due to his frequent demands.

How important is breastfeeding to you throughout a global pandemic?

Breastfeeding remains crucial, providing all the essential nutrients a baby needs, especially during a pandemic. I’ve noticed that breastfeeding boosts immunity and helps prevent illnesses. If my baby isn’t feeling well, I increase breastfeeding to aid in recovery and provide comfort.

Is there anything you’d like to share with healthcare providers caring for breastfeeding families?

While breastfeeding is ideal, it’s essential to support new moms regardless of their choices, including formula feeding and expressing. Hydration and a balanced diet are crucial for lactating mothers. Creating safe spaces for breastfeeding is essential. Recommending breast pumps, nipple cream, storage bags, and promoting water intake can enhance the quality of breast milk.

Is there anything you’d like new parents to know about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is a precious bonding time between mother and child. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces. It’s common to worry that your baby isn’t getting enough, but remember they take what they need at the moment and will demand more later. Occasionally, one breast may produce more than the other, so rotating feeding helps. Staying hydrated after each feeding is important. If it ever becomes overwhelming, consider expressing milk so your partner can help, allowing you to rest or enjoy some downtime. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a lactation specialist if you face breastfeeding challenges.

National Breastfeeding Week is October 1 to 7.