(UPDATED) When our daughter was just born I tried breastfeeding her. I thought it would come naturally. I never anticipated the problems that would arise. My nipples cracked, bled, became engorged, and all the while my precious baby had difficulties latching on. I would fluctuate between feeling afraid I would starve her, to producing too much milk. We had to find different uses for all the bags of milk in the freezer. In the early days I promised myself to stop breastfeeding her when she turned 6 months old. I hated it so much, I felt broken, raw, and most of all I felt that breastfeeding did not come naturally at all.
But then after six months of breastfeeding her, I did not stop. I had gotten help from a lactation consultant, a great network of mothers, and of course, my always supportive husband. So, though I continued breastfeeding my baby, I still encountered a few hiccups. I got mastitis (inflammation of breast due to infection) a few times and our daughter went on two nursing strikes. Luckily with the information I gathered, and with the support of a midwife friend and other mothers, I stuck with it. The internet has a lot of information, and filtering it out can be daunting. Therefore, having somebody help you in person is very important. And also, having a support network with other new mommies is crucial to success in your new role.
But, as with anything, I did meet people who were less supportive of my choices. I remember getting negative comments from strangers and family members. They asked me why I was (still) breastfeeding my baby. Not only were their comments hurtful, but it felt like I had to defend my choice of feeding my child through the healthiest method possible. It made me realize that not everyone was accessing the widely available information regarding breastfeeding, and that personal breastfeeding stories from mothers were not told.
I felt like giving up on life many times when our daughter was still a baby. But because I knew she needed my body and breast milk to strive and stay alive, I continued to live. In this sense, not only was breastfeeding healthy for my child, it saved my life as well. I went on with it until my daughter was three years old, and she self-weaned before we moved to China.
Information and help for new mothers and mothers who are breastfeeding should be made widely available. Even though you may be living away from your family and home country, you should still get necessary help and support. International hospitals have midwifes to help as well as breastfeeding classes for those that need them. Below are a few websites that mothers can refer to when they need help. Add BecTaylor on WeChat for more guidance and ask to be added to breastfeeding support groups on WeChat in Beijing.
La Leche League International
“Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
“This website was developed to provide evidence-based information on breastfeeding and parenting. I am the mother of three lovely children, and I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I hope that my articles are helpful and encouraging.”
The Badass Breastfeeder
“A recourse to inspire, inform and empower parent.”
Editor’s note: Paragraph 2 originally mentioned “meningitis,” or an inflammation of meninges, or protective membranes in the brain and the spinal cord. We have corrected it to “mastitis,” or the inflammation of the breast due to infection. We’re sorry for the mix-up.
Pauline van Hasselt has been working for beijingkids since October 2016. Born in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, she moved with her husband and her 3 year-old daughter to Beijing in June of last year. Prior she lived in the Netherlands, Belgium, Paraguay, Texas, and London, studying and working as a chef. Pauline enjoys biking around Beijing, finding markets and new restaurants, reading crime and fantasy books in bed, and most importantly, turning her house into a home for her family.