Motherhood is an art form as deeply involved and necessary as life itself. Preparation for motherhood may seem at times more strenuous than actually being a mother. And, at times, yes, that can be the case. There is nothing more fearful than the unknown, this is until you come up unprepared and realize that parenting questions are endless and a little help and suggestion goes for miles when you are faced with 2 a.m. feedings, countless baby product choices and care methods.
Who better to glean these gems of parental prowess than the mothers themselves? Dawn Huffmaster, life-time resident of Sharp County and mother of seven children, will be the featured speaker at the Fulton County Health "Honoring Breastfeeding and Child Safety" seminar, beginning at 9 a.m. on Aug. 6.
Huffmaster, 34, of Hardy is a stay-at-home mother with five girls and two boys ranging in age from almost one year to 15 years old. She is able to explain the best and the worst of both methods, having bottle-fed her first three children and breast-fed her last four.
"I've done it both ways," Huffmaster said. "You have to have a lot of support (to breast feed). For me, it was a matter of having other women around me that did."
If at all possible, breastfeeding is the best option, she said.
"I think every mother should at least try. There are benefits for the mom and the baby. If you can even breast feed one day, the baby benefits," she said.
There are ways to make it work. By using supplementation at first, or simply by knowing early signs of breastfeeding problems, mothers can find a way to be successful.
"Talk to the doctor or hospital where you are going to have the baby," Huffmaster said. "Lactation consultants on staff are available to direct (mothers) to some support or help that they would need. Let their doctors know ahead of time what their plans are. It's best to make that decision before you have the baby. Read lots of books."
Huffmaster also recommended The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as her favorite book on breastfeeding.
She welcomes mothers to share and learn from her and one another.
"It's going to be a question and answer session," Huffmaster said. "I'm just a mom. I've got lots of experience; sometimes, the best way to learn is from those that have done it."
She also encouraged those attending to bring any specific questions they might have along.
Aug. 1 to 7 is World Breast Feeding Week. The Arkansas WIC program, facilitated locally by the Fulton County Health Unit, opens its scheduled WIC classes to the community for all mothers and mothers-to-be that need some questions answered.
The presentation will also feature an afternoon session on child safety seats and the rules of the road, which no mother should leave home without.
While some mothers may be blessed with more mothering advice than they can use, remember that each maternal relationship has its own dynamic. One answer does not always apply to every situation, but the support you need in order to do what is best for you and your baby will always be in place and ready to supply guidance.