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My Experience as a European mom breastfeeding in America

As moms, how to feed our babies is the first of many decisions we need to take. In celebration of breastfeeding week, I wanted to share with you my decision to breastfeed and my experience with it!

Leaping into the world of breastfeeding can be scary and with all the information available online it may be a bit overwhelming. I found that hearing from other moms and their experiences, although very different for everyone, helped me navigate this process. It’s important to remember that each mom has her own experience and there is no wrong decision, we are all learning as we go along!

Hi, I'm Cali! Cali's Books Founder. I'm a happy mother of two young kids and an all-time book lover. I am French living in California and I'd love to share with you my experiences of bringing up my family in America. I built Cali's books book publishing house for my children and I hope you enjoy our interactive books created with love to inspire and cultivate a love for books.

  • My experience of breastfeeding with a spinal headache
  • Getting the support you need: I couldn't have done it alone
  • Why I chose to keep going: It was all worth it!
  • The 3 reasons why I chose to breastfeed my children despite the pain

Breastfeeding with a spinal headache

For me, breastfeeding was more painful than being pregnant for nine months and giving birth– honestly! Especially because I had an epidural. 😅 After I gave birth to Margaux, my first child, I got a spinal headache and couldn't be vertical. Whenever I sat down or stood up, the headaches would be just like if someone was banging on my head. I was part of the 1% of people who get this after receiving an epidural. 😞 I have never in my life before been more grateful for my father, who is a neurologist. He assured me that this was normal and harmless and that everything was going to be okay. Hadn't I had him, I would have probably been so scared for my life which would have been paralyzing. I still wanted to breastfeed, so I had to do it lying down. It was such a difficult experience because when I wasn't dealing with horrible headaches, I was dealing with pain in my nipples as you know it sucks (pun intended!)I honestly didn't think I could do it...

I couldn't have done it alone

When Margaux was one week old she losing weight and I couldn't bear with the pain anymore and that's where my journey as a guilty mother began (I am pretty sure so many of you moms can relate to this)... But I didn't want to give up. I had to pump and my husband and dad would feed her with a syringe as she couldn't take the bottle.
After a couple of weeks, I went back to it but I had to use a nipple shield as the pain was so unbearable. The physical pain was one thing, but the emotional pain of failing at a task that is supposed to be natural and "easy" was the hardest for me. I felt like I was failing as a mother.
Luckily, Michael's aunt is an early childhood development specialist and gave me the emotional and physical support that allowed me to continue. After the first month, I was able to get the spinal headache treated and was slowly getting back to normal (as in being able to stand to go to the bathroom and eat at a table!)

It was all worth it!

And I did it! I breastfed Margaux until she was 9 months old (the time I got pregnant with Julien! 🤰🏻) she was happy to stop because she was very active loved seeing the world around her, so being attached to me didn't seem practical for her anymore.
🍼 After all my previous experience, feeding Julien was much easier. The first picture is of me breastfeeding Julien at an office in Copenhagen when I was at my corporate job. I realized I was so lucky to be around people who normalized and encourage breastfeeding because I know sadly, it isn't the case in America and other parts of the world.

breastfeeding at work, office breastfeeding, baby in the office, working mom

The time spent feeding my babies helped me to transition from expected mother to mother and that transition was so impactful for me. On an emotional level, it felt so good to see my children growing thanks to my efforts while bonding and getting to know them better. Also, as we travel a lot, it was extremely helpful to become the food supplier. All in all, breastfeeding was a true challenge, not going to lie– but it was one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences of my life and I would love every mother to experience this beautiful stage of life if they can 🥰. 

The 3 reasons why I chose to breastfeed my children despite the pain

  • Your breastmilk is perfectly made for your baby:
    You will hear so many different opinions on what you should and should not eat or drink and how your eating habits impact your baby. This can be overwhelming and scary, but it’s so important to remember that with a healthy diet that suits your needs, your body is producing the food made to measure for your baby! The breastmilk you make protects your baby from infections and diseases. Formula milk does not always provide the same protection from illness for your baby and does not give him or her many health benefits. The health benefits of breastmilk can last long into adulthood, so you are setting up your baby for a healthy life!
  • Breastmilk is available whenever your baby wants:
    Always remember that breastmilk is an unlimited food supply for your little one! Although it can be hard to breastfeed in public, I quickly became used to feeding my baby whenever and wherever it was hungry. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that you have the food your baby needs whenever you leave the house gives you the freedom to explore the world together. You may be breastfeeding for quite a while, and I found that once I felt comfortable with it, I was able to get up and about with my baby and even travel. As your baby grows, your breastmilk adapts to its needs, and it comes everywhere with you, so your milk really is perfect for your baby!
  • Breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between mom and baby:
    Although I experienced pain and some difficulties, I also took great joy in feeding my babies! Breastfeeding and the process of making milk have health benefits for you too, and in my opinion, the most important benefit was that bond I created with my babies during this precious time. During breastfeeding, you are providing your baby comfort and nurturing. The process of breastfeeding produces oxytocin which is a love hormone that adds to the intensity of your special bond. I know that I really enjoyed those moments and that connection only a mom knows! Providing what your baby needs is such a fundamental part of being a mom and breastfeeding for me is something I recommend to all of you who are wondering whether it's right for you and your little one. 

As you can see, my babies have now grown into strong and energetic little children, and I am so glad I decided to breastfeed even if it was difficult at times. So here are three reasons why I chose breastfeeding and why I recommend you do too! I would love to hear about your experiences with breastfeeding.

I know that it wasn’t always easy, but that I cherish those moments and think back fondly as I watch my children grow up and thrive!

Love,

Cali 💛

Breast feeding week

Sources:

NHS (2021) Benefits of breastfeeding, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/breastfeeding-and-bottle-feeding/breastfeeding/benefits/

Karen's Mom & Baby land (2021) https://www.facebook.com/Karens-mom-baby-land-457314947766994

Julia Seidl (2017) What I wish I knew about post-dural puncture headaches before I got an epidural, Todays Parent, https://www.todaysparent.com/pregnancy/giving-birth/what-i-wish-i-knew-about-post-dural-puncture-headaches-before-i-got-an-epidural/

World Breast feeding Week (2021) https://waba.org.my/wbw/