Friday, February 8, 2013

A Few Notes on Breastfeeding...

Gotta love those little nursing hands

When I was pregnant and figuring out what would be important for our little family, I decided that breastfeeding would be a must. Not only is it free, (relatively) mess-free, and always available, BUT, like they say, breast is best. What is even more fantastic is that breastfeeding seems to be having a resurgence amongst new mothers. Nothing wrong with formula (truly- it serves its purpose!!) - but I will say all of the new mothers that I know (to my knowledge) wanted to breast feed for at least some time, whether they were successful or not.

When our little peach arrived I was so exhausted (I swear I'm working on that birth story!!!) but I knew I had to at least try to get her to latch. The hospital we delivered at is very breastfeeding friendly and advocates that the first hour of life be bonding time. Since she was delivered via emergency c-section this was altered a bit. When we finally were together, though, we made sure to do plenty of skin to skin and I attempted to breastfeed.

Now, its been over four months now so I wanted to note what I have learned in this process:

First and foremost, its not painless like some lactation consultants love to claim. Yes, in time it will become painless, but not right away. Oh my goodness - that initial toe-curling pain! Why do they tell mothers its not supposed to hurt? I can't help but feel that telling new moms this only makes them feel like something is wrong with them - that perhaps they should stop. Instead, when you talk to others you learn (Hallelujah!) that you aren't alone. Breastfeeding takes some getting used to!

Second, you just have to keep trying and give yourself a break. I was so hard on myself those first few days and I really, truly thought we were doomed. I supplied more than I'd like to admit, pumped like crazy, and, with toes curled, tried latching more and more as the days went by. Before Halloween, we had it - we were exclusively breastfeeding! If you had told me I'd be where I was on day 3 I wouldn't have believed you. Patience and determination are key.

Third, you will succeed in nursing if you have great supporters. Your spouse/partner, mainly, but other new moms, too. Be prepared to ignore the nay-sayers. I am very thankful I didn't have any, but I was prepared to shut down doubts if I had to. I read a few books on the matter. Shane and I even attended a breastfeeding class while our girl was still cooking. I was most fortunate, however, to have friends who had breastfed and could give me some of those real-life advice tidbits that I have since passed on to two new moms. Somethings don't really resonate in text - you have to experience them and/or learn from others' experiences.

Next, if you can - get a lactation consultant. I am fortunate enough to have one who can even examine my daughter for all of her well visits. In fact, I just saw her this past week. She was so essential to my success in breastfeeding that I probably owe my next born to her (kidding!!).  She taught me to relax, keep trying, and that baby will follow my lead. I will probably continue to see her for a few more months (for well visits) just in case I have any questions. Nothing like a "one stop shop"!

Lastly, it has been so SO rewarding. There is no bonding quite like it. I absolutely love to nurse. I am so glad I stuck with it. I knew I would regret it if I gave it up and kept telling myself there are plenty of moms who would take all the pain just to nurse, but can't. Since my only issue was getting passed the pain I knew I had to suck it up. In my head I had to play some Eye of the Tiger or, perhaps the Rocky Theme and think of the day when it would be easy. One day, around week three, I woke up and voila! NO PAIN!

Hows that for a "milk drunk" look? 10/25/2012

My plan right now is to go for at least a year. Like I said in a previous post, I'll be student teaching next spring so I won't be around 24/7 to nurse, but she'll be 15 months when that starts. Hopefully I'll still be able to nurse her on occasion. I've been warned by a friend who completed her student teaching with an 8 month old that pumping will be nearly impossible - its what dried her up. Honestly it angers me that she (and likely I.. and other nursing moms) are not given adequate time (or space!) to pump. Breastfeeding should be encouraged - especially in Education!

Its been a long journey and I know with teething around the bend its only going to get trickier. For now, our biggest hurdle is keeping her on task - she's forever looking around the room at everything going on. We've had to start retreating to a dark space just to keep her concentration!

I will say this, I already dread the time when she is no longer breastfeeding. Sometimes I wish time could stand still - just a little.

I was inspired to write my thoughts on breastfeeding from a post on Love, Matt and Kara. Check it out!

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