Thinking about breastfeeding? Hear from a new mom who made the decision to go for it!
Meet Danielle Cunningham. She’s a first-time mom who opened up about her breastfeeding journey in honor of National Breastfeeding Month and Black Breastfeeding Week. Danielle shares why she chose to breastfeed, what her first few weeks were like, and how her family has supported her decision. Plus, she explains what’s surprised her most about breastfeeding.
Why did you decide to breastfeed?
I decided to breastfeed for the health benefits — not just for me, but for my baby boy, too. I know that breastfeeding gives my growing baby the nutrients he needs at this delicate age. Another great thing that I like about breastfeeding is that it helps us save money. And one of the best parts about breastfeeding is the bonding time for my baby and me.
How long have you been breastfeeding your baby, and what’s your breastfeeding goal?
I have been breastfeeding for 3 months, and I have 3 more months to go. Before I had him, I was confident that I wanted to breastfeed for 6 months, but now, my view has changed. I may continue to breastfeed after we hit the 6-month mark, but right now my goal is at least 6 months.
What were those first few weeks of breastfeeding like for you?
My first week of breastfeeding seemed easy enough. But once the second week came around — that was a different story. It was absolutely painful for about 2 weeks. I remember feeling unexcited about feeding time, even though my baby was excited. The latch was really uncomfortable, but fortunately, I didn’t have to worry that he wasn’t getting enough food. He went from 8 pounds (his birth weight) to 13 pounds in 4 weeks. While it was tough on me at times, I at no point decided to call it quits. I knew it would get better with time, and it did. By the time his first-month checkup came around, feeding became easier.
What did you do to work on your baby’s latch?
Honestly, I didn't do much to improve his latch. We just kept on breastfeeding, and with time, we both got the hang of it.
Once your baby’s latch improved, what has breastfeeding been like for you?
Breastfeeding is beautiful. You read and hear about it, but the bond is more than I imagined.
Do you take any steps to prepare before you breastfeed?
Before I breastfeed, I make sure the feeding area is clean and that I have a pillow to prop my arm on so that I’m comfortable.
Have your family members or friends played a role in your breastfeeding journey?
Definitely. Because I'm breastfeeding and working, I have to pump throughout the day. My family has been very supportive of my choice to strictly breastfeed. My mom has been an angel during this process. For my shower gift, she got me a breast pump and a lot of bags so I could store my milk. This was the best gift! My active babysitters (my baby’s grandparents) are willing to store my breastmilk in their freezer so they always have some available. I’m so grateful for their support!
Has anything else surprised you about breastfeeding?
Yes! For me, the surprising thing about breastfeeding is that my body is on a schedule to produce milk. Even when I'm away from him, I know when it's time for him to eat.
What’s been the key to success during your breastfeeding journey?
To successfully breastfeed, I have to be comfortable. When I breastfeed, I grab my supportive pillow and I’m in my favorite room in the house. If I’m out, that means I have something to cover my son so I feel less vulnerable.
It’s also important for me to stay hydrated. I’ve found that when I’m properly hydrated, I produce the most milk.
Do you have advice for pregnant women who are thinking about breastfeeding?
My advice is to go for it. Building trust with your newborn is the best feeling in the world. As a mother, this is something that only you can provide for your growing baby.