Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Regular Girl's Breastfeeding Experience

I'll start this post by saying... I completely respect how any Mother chooses to feed their sweet bambinos.  Prior to Simone's arrival I decided to take the path of breastfeeding.
I'm pretty stubborn and if someone suggests I CAN'T do something then I'm likely to do it until I'm a pro.  So, pre-due date I read probably three books front to back, and took a class on breast feeding your beeb.  Now, I'm not saying those really taught me anything.  But, I knew going into it that nursing isn't always easy, there will be challenges, and I should get ready to BE FLEXIBLE.
Truly, I think that's the biggest part of being a Mom.  Or, really I should say a successful human being.  Prior to Simone I struggled with flexibility, and didn't embrace change much.  Having her has made me tougher and more bendy than ever before.
Anyways, back to the boob at hand...
After all the prep work, the day came.  Simone was born and within twenty minutes of her arrival the nurse handed her to me and said let's feed this baby.  I was so awkward, it wasn't like practicing with a doll at ALL!  But I put her up to the nip and she just went for it.  I give her all the credit in our nursing success the first night.  She had no issues with her latch and she just seemed to know exactly what to do.  Me on the other hand, not so much.  It took me a while to get her in a comfortable hold.  My advice on this is nurse as much as possible the first few days.  Try holding them in different positions until you find the right one.  Try a boppy, try no boppy, try your rolled up trusty hoodie for goodness sakes.  Find what works for YOU.
Leaving the hospital I felt really good about breastfeeding!  Sure, I was a bit raw as I've never had another human being feeding from me before, but I felt confident.  Cut to the next night at home... engorgement.  Ugh.  And, if you don't already know, let me be the one to give you this great piece of news... you get this whether you nurse or not, so HA, we're all in this together!  That was a long night for her and I.  Never before have I seen my boobs grow to the point of ridiculousness from collar bone to belly button.  But, through that night we just stuck with it, I nursed her for hours.  Struggling with the latch because my boobs were like rock hard bowling balls.  Sure, there were tears, frozen bags of peas at 3am, and waking Todd up to just hold her while I cry in the shower.  It wasn't glamorous, but the most important part was we got through it.
The first few weeks breastfeeding can be pretty demanding.  They eat often and for long periods of time.  I felt myself wanting to give up many times, but pushed through.  There was a time around her three month mark where it seemed like I had been nursing every two hours for the past 90 days.  I decided to try supplementing with formula.  I checked with our doctor and she gave us the go-ahead.  In that time, Simone probably took five bottles of formula.  She doesn't dig it...that's for sure.  So after that I went back to 100% nursing. 
And, you know what?  It got better.  Time between feedings got longer.  I also learned to time her feedings better, to pump while she was napping so that I can be away from time to time, and to love and appreciate this short window where I connect with her like no one else can.  I'll fully admit, it was hard.  I wanted to break, many times.  But, I'm here to tell you if you want to do it, stick with it.  See a lactation specialist if you are struggling, and know that I don't know anyone who regrets trying.
A few HUMBLE suggestions... 
  1. Buy a good pump!  I have a Medela Pump In Style Pump... yes, it's fricken expensive, but there are programs to get one through your hospital and some insurance companies even cover this cost!  Get some milk storage bags, too!
  2. Get a crap-load of Lanolin nipple cream (FYI a crap-load translates to a tube...yes, it's enough!). 
  3. Buy some nursing pads (reusable are great, but have several sets) because you will leak for a bit. 
  4. Frozen peas are a must for soreness the first week (or month if you're me).  Warm showers help, too!
  5. If you are struggling see a lactation specialist
  6. Drink tons of water... then drink some more.  After you've finished that, have one more glass. :) 
  7. There are also lactation cookies, teas, and candies.  I've never tried them, but I've heard good things! 
  8. Take a breastfeeding class, it prepares you for some things.  Also, take that class with a grain of salt, because I left mine thinking our teacher was a judgemental meanie head.
  9. Explain to your partner how important this is to you.  Hopefully he (or she) will be supportive.  I swear I can't tell you how many times Todd talked me "off the ledge".  It makes a huge difference to have a cheerleader! 
  10. Finally, be stubborn, but be flexible.  Some babies experience tongue tie, nipple confusion, etc., etc., etc.  Don't beat yourself up if you have to step outside of your "plan".  I laugh now when I think of all of my "plans" for having this baby girl.  I think the best advice I ever received was DO WHAT WORKS FOR  YOU.  Don't let anyone make you feel bad, guilty, or question what you think is best for your child.  Let them use their own children as guinea pigs. 
I in NO WAY am any kind of an expert.  I'm just sharing with you what got us through those rough patches.  I'm not a militant nursing mom who is going to give you mean shifty eyes.  I'm just a normal girl, who wanted to nurse her baby and I'm not afraid to tell you it's hard, but WONDERFUL.