Friday, March 12, 2010

Blessings worth the little challenges.

When I first got pregnant I wasn't completely "sold" on the idea of breastfeeding. Sure, I wanted to try, not only for the health benefits for baby and me, but for the financial benefit. There is some investment for the equipment to pump, but in the long run it's so much cheaper than buying a year's worth of formula! The reason I wasn't sure if I wanted to breastfeed was because I didn't want to feel like I had failed if I had problems with it. I knew as a new mother life as I knew it would be completely different and I didn't want the fear of failure to be one more stressor.

During my last trimester I bought a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which is published by La Leche League. This, combined with the breastfeeding class I took at a local hospital, helped encourage me to really try breastfeeding. I am so glad I did.

I nursed my daughter within a half hour of her birth, while we were still in the delivery room. I don't know if she even got any colostrum at that time, but it was the most incredible experience of my life. All of the nurses were very supportive of breastfeeding. The nurses who helped deliver my baby helped show me how to hold her and held my breast so that she could try to get a latch. The nurses on the maternity ward were also a godsend for a new mom who was in a lot of pain and needed a lot of help.

Another thing that was a huge help to my breastfeeding was having someone to support me at home, namely, someone who had breastfed before. My husband has always been very supportive of breastfeeding, but couldn't really give me advice. My mother in law stayed with us those first few weeks and was right there with me, whatever I needed. She encouraged me when my nipples were sore, or when the latch wasn't right. She changed the baby during middle of the night feedings so I could rest before I had my daughter switch to the other breast.

I've been breastfeeding my daughter four months now. It was challenging the first few days but it has been so worth it. I've been blessed to have an ample supply and a child who loves to eat. I've been blessed with lots of people to help and encourage me. Life continues to bring challenges, such as going back to work, and the increasing need to pump. In all, I wouldn't change a thing about the past four months.

H, 36
Mom to C, 4 months

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't knock it till you try it!

The entire time I was pregnant, I did not plan on breastfeeding. I was not breastfed, and my mom had issues breastfeeding my older sister. They tried for one month, and they both ended up in tears constantly, and my sister was not gaining weight. When my mom finally tried formula, my sister became fat and happy :-) And for me, it was formula from Day 1, and I was also a happy, fat baby. So formula worked wonders for my mom. I figured that my experience would be similar.

Furthermore, breastfeeding kind of freaked me out. To tell you the truth, it freaked me out and it grossed me out. I felt uncomfortable with the thought of having a baby on my boob, and was also terrified after reading in "What To Expect" about sore, cracked nipples, clogged ducts, engorgement, etc. And to top it all off, after 9 months of pregnancy I was looking forward to drinking wine again!

But in the back of my mind I knew that breast milk was best for baby. I told my doctor that I was completely on the fence about breastfeeding, and that I honestly did not think it was for me or my lifestyle. I graduated from law school at the same time baby was born and was immediately enrolled in a bar review course that met 5 nights a week for 4 hours. Breastfeeding seemed like too much of a time commitment.

My doctor told me, "If you are on the fence about it, just breastfeed! You can always quit. Whereas, if you start with formula and change your mind, you can't go back." So I took his advice. At the hospital, after birth I was asked if I would breastfeed. I reluctantly said, "Sure, I'll give it a whirl." Well, my baby latched on with little to no problem, and she was eating for a good 8 to 10 minutes each time. Then she had her first poop and the nurses told us it was a good breast milk poop. We were thrilled. Then I continued to breastfeed at home, and figured I would do so until the review course started.

My baby was thriving on breast milk, and gaining lots of weight, I could not bear the thought of switching. My mom told me formula babies sleep better and that it would be better for my study schedule. Well, I tried giving her formula, and she refused it. Then I tried mixing half formula and half breast milk, she drank the whole thing, but then she was awake up until her next feeding which was breast milk, and she slept through the night after that. So I was convinced that breast milk was the best thing for her, easy on her stomach, and made her sleep just as well if not better than formula.

I took my manual pump and cooler to class with me every night and pumped on our 10 minute breaks. There was always enough milk for my husband to feed her bottles while I was gone. I am also so happy with the fact that when I wake up at night or early morning to feed her, I do not have to hassle with bottles! Breastfeeding is SO easy. Of course there were ups and downs in the first 8 weeks, but it was all manageable and totally worth it.

The decision to breastfeed was one that took a while. I had no goals in mind, and no preconceived notions about breast milk vs. formula. I just tried it, and it worked for me!

Just try it, even if it is just for one day.

Mom (27) Baby (3 months)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bras aren't the only things that offer support!

Although Breastfeeding obviously revolves around me and my milkers, I could not have EVEN gotten this far without the support and patience of my husband!

Those first few confusing days when I was tired and in pain, he would come from wherever he was in the house to help me calm her down, latch her properly, and make sure that I had enough water to last the session. In the hospital when the nurses were reaching out to help me get her situated, they had to try and reach over him because he was already there, coaxing her mouth to "open wide" and “make duck lips". He made sure I was comfortable, hydrated and that all of her nursing sessions were being written down.

As a result of all of my husband’s thoughtful efforts ( well obviously mine, our daughter never had any problems nursing, and only ever lost 2 oz of her birth weight. Now that those days of the crazy baby fog are (mostly) gone, he is still the pillar of support for breastfeeding. During a recent wedding out of the country, my husband tracked down the catering manger to get me an open private room where I could breast feed our daughter since the outfit I was wearing required me to take off my shirt completely. Any time we are in public he always helps me find a place to feed our daughter even if it means sitting in the car with me.

I am truly blessed to have such a supportive husband! I have no idea how I would have gotten through those first few weeks without him!

Sara 27, Zara 6 months

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memoirs of a Milk Maid

Breastfeeding really has its ups and downs. Here is my story.

The first few months were a blur. Cracked and bleeding nipples, crying through the pain, trying to get Dawson to latch, struggling with a nipple shield, People said it would help, it was just a pain in the butt Dawson attached to me for hours at a time, not knowing if he was getting enough to eat.... really there was nothing good about breastfeeding.. I wanted so badly to quit. If it wasn’t for my adoring and supportive husband I probably would have.

After we reached 3 months it felt as if we finally had a routine down. Wake up at 7, nurse then pump and store the milk in the freezer, nurse at 10, nurse at 1, nurse at 4 and nurse at 7 then bed. We were on a roll. No more pain, no more tears... We were professionals. Or so we thought... Next thing I know, I have a plugged duct. Most likely caused because of the start of solid foods in Dawson's diet at 4 months. My body kept producing the milk but he was no longer drinking it. I googled it online, find all the ways to try and get rid of it. (Massaging, hot compresses, lots of nursing, lots of pumping) and nothing works. I go to the DR. two days later and it has turned into mastitis. FAB-U-LOUS right? NO. Days of infection, hot and cold sweats, antibiotics and its finally gone... can you guess what else is gone?? My milk supply!!!

So now I begin the ever wonderful path of trying to increase my milk supply with every imaginable thing possible. Extra nursing, extra pumping, lots of oatmeal, lots of water, extra food (thus adding an extra 5 pounds to my baby weight). Nothing was working. So then I discovered fenugreek. It’s a natural supplement to increase your supply. The bottle says to take two a day but my lactation consultant said to take 3 pills 3x a day. And BOY did that work! I think I had milk coming out of every orifice of my body and spraying Dawson in the face like crazy! I loved it! During that time I saved over 200 oz of freezer milk and breastfeeding was going wonderfully!

Dawson was now almost 5 months old, the milk was flowing like wine and it had been a month since the plugged duct, mastitis, and low supply incident. Shortly after he turned 5 months old, my right breast began hurting TERRIBLY every time he would nurse and for at least 20 minutes after. It didn’t feel like anything I had ever felt before and it was hurting so bad that every time Dawson nursed I wanted to vomit throw him off of me to make the pain stop. I went back to the DR and she told me that I had a milk blister. It was most likely caused because of the backup of milk when I had the plugged duct and mastitis. I kept thinking to myself "are you kidding me God? What can go wrong next? What is with all these trials you're giving me? Do you want me to quit breastfeeding?" I was seriously beginning to lose faith in myself that I could make it through all this pain.

After TWO MONTHS of the milk blister pain, yes, two months. I still have no idea how I managed that. We were finally pain free, back on a schedule and smooth sailing. Dawson was now 7 months old and he was even sleeping 12 hours a night! It was fabulous! Wake up at 7a nurse, 11a nurse, 3p nurse and 7pm bottle of breast milk with daddy while mommy pumped. We were making our way through Breastfeeding Paradise. Nothing could stop us now. Only 2 months until the end of flu season and we will have reached our semi goal. Then 3 months after that he will be a year old. Where did the time go?

Dawson is now almost 9 months old. He is still nursing 4 times a day and eating 3 solid meals for breakfast lunch and dinner. The only issue we have with breastfeeding at the moment is that he doesn’t want to do it. He wants to play, explore and experience the world around him. No way does he want to be attached to mommy while he eats. So now his feeding sessions consist of sucking 10 seconds and sitting up to play for 20 seconds and repeat this about 20 times. It is quite frustrating and time consuming but he does eat like a champ so we finish this cycle in about 10 minutes. We have used up about half of our freezer supply but we still have enough left to thaw out 5 oz a week and still make it to a year.

I know we will make it. Now you are probably asking yourself, "Why in the world did Alysha breastfeed for so long when she went through so much pain and strife?"

Well my dear followers, I believe "breast is best". I am using what the good Lord gave me and trying my best to do what is best for Dawson. In no way do I feel that formula is bad. But I feel that if you CAN breastfeed, then you SHOULD. I don’t need to get into details for that. Breastfeeding is free, it’s healthy and I wouldn’t give up that bonding time with Dawson for anything in the world. I don’t regret a single moment of nursing my son and I can’t wait to do it with future children. We have 3 more months until our ultimate goal and I have faith that the Lord will help us reach our goal.

Breastfeeding my boy was well worth the soon to come "pancakes on my chest".

Alysha, 22
Mom to Dawson, 9 months