Breastfeeding is a big part of my life and I blog about life, so, here goes. I'll precursor by saying I respect breastfeeding mothers and formula-feeding mothers equally. We're all doing the best for our children, and the best is different for everyone. Some might say breastfeeding leaves the daddy out. It hasn't been a problem for Shawn. Bath time is his bonding time with Story, as it was/is for Wilder. Pumping and having the daddy do a bottle is also an option (not to mention it can free mommy to have some personal away time).
On we plunge...
If Story has nursed five times a day all the days of her life, then that means we have nursed 1,200 times! Now, she's nursed more than that since we nursed a bit more than every 3 hours when she was a newborn. So, I'm an expert, right? Especially since I nursed Wilder, too?
My breastfeeding journey goes something like this:
We bought only a couple of bottles when preparing for Wilder's birth. I planned to nurse if it worked out, but didn't want to pressure myself if it didn't. It ended up working out, but not without a little bit of gumption. I was incredibly engorged when we came home from the hospital. Let me clarify: I had to go to the hospital a second time, because I wasn't getting better, and they gave me an I.V. the day my milk came in. I remember lying alone on the E.R. table, crying out for my baby Wilder, who had probably gone 4 hours without eating. I was in intense pain and confused as to why I wasn't getting better (in hindsight I think it was postpartum pre-eclampsia, as with Story).
The basketball in my tummy had mutated into two basketballs that migrated upward...(e.g., my "girls" were very. full. up to my collarbone and armpits). It was excruciating. I think I scarred my mom for life in that when she came to help, I roamed around half-clothed, milk spewing from my breasts, balling.
It didn't seem worth it.
Until I discovered cabbage leaves. They are a weird moving plant, like a venus fly trap. Put the fresh leaves over the girls and it almost looks like they are massaging them (even though I just think it was my heartbeat). Instant relief. Cold packs helped too, but I couldn't stand them for too long.
I pushed through. My postpartum nurse friend came over at 10pm one night to help, because Wilder just wasn't getting it. I don't blame the guy if he was afraid of the girls. "Boom boom boom I'm a big thing that you need to eat from!!"
Then my Miss Honey Love Story Girl Lovey Nutt (sorry) came along, and I was more knowledgeable and relaxed about the whole thing. When we learned of her pregnancy I bought a Medela Pump In Style electric pump. And stocked the fridge with cabbage days before birth.
She was a bit of a slow learner, but didn't fight or fist-punch me like Wilder did. Hospital lactation specialists changed my life by suggesting breast shells...they worked like a charm. If engorgement is a problem for you, TRY them. They work.
I had a long post-partum hospital stay with Story, too, and we nursed through it. We nursed in the E.R. (thank you Lord for protecting Story from germs), and we nursed even while I was on magnesium sulfate and going to the bathroom was akin to climbing Everest. But nursing helped me feel bonded to Story, and it was the one thing I could do for her, if just barely (Shawn, family, and friends had to do everything else). When bad medicine was in me I had to pump/dump, but Story took a bottle well (she doesn't now! oops).
Almost eight months later, nursing is progressing successfully.
She is easily distracted, so we have to go to a quiet place (we lie down, and relax! Wilder does pretty good at not "bothering" us). I really hope she sticks with me. Oftentimes she'll nurse for a bit then roll over and lose interest. I am grateful that nursing her has been a positive experience and that it hasn't been overly bothersome. Moreover, my breasts haven't had any adverse effects from running; production is steady.
I am sticking with it one week at a time. I am not going to publicly make the 1-year commitment just in case she "denies me" like Wilder did. My reasoning for nursing her is three-fold 1) it's a really special time for us and is not a stressor (if it was, I wouldn't do it) 2) it's the more economical choice for us 3) it has optimum nutrition. Furthermore, I have never had mastitis, struggles with let-down, anemia, prescriptions that impede my ability to nurse, or a outside the home job to make it more challenging. Even though I get tired of it sometimes, it has been a BIG blessing to get to nurse.
So, do you have questions for me? I can help. Do you wonder how to discreetly nurse in public? Are you frustrated with tattered nursing bras and need to find a better one? How about a nursing cover? Nursing pads? Check out these on Etsy:
image viaDo you wonder how long frozen milk is good for? Or maybe you have endured negative reactions to your nursing and you'd like to discuss how you coped? Have you ever had mastitis? If so, what was the outcome? How do you distract older sibling(s) when you are trying to nurse (we struggled with that in the beginning)?
I'm going to be bossy and say, yes, let's talk about it!