Before I had the baby, I don’t think I understood just how divisive certain topics related to parenting are. Vaccinations, circumcision, sleeping, and feeding. If you have an opinion on any of these topics, I promise, someone else out there thinks it is wrong.
It’s World Breastfeeding Week and I want to talk a little bit about what breastfeeding has been like for me. Time for bullet point lists.
- I breastfeed. I do believe that breastfeeding is best for babies.
- There are a whole lot of women out there who can’t breastfeed and feel guilty about it. Girl, it’s okay. Your baby is thriving? You are doing great.
- There are a whole lot of women out there who don’t want to breastfeed and feel secretly guilty about it. Girl, it’s okay. Your baby is thriving? You are doing great.
- There are a whole lot of women out there who are tired of hearing about breastfeeding. Girl, it’s okay. It’s just baby food. My baby is thriving. We’re doing great.
- I do not judge other women for how they want to feed their babies. Sure, some of it may seem weird to me, but I’m not here to tell you what works. As long as your baby isn’t harmed by your method and is thriving, have at it.
Our breastfeeding journey:
- I went into birth with ideas about how it was going to go. It didn’t. I got a magnificent healthy baby, so I don’t dwell on the things that I would have changed about my birthing experience.
- We tried to get the baby to latch right after the birth. I was so physically exhausted after such a long labor that I don’t remember the details. I know he took the boob, but I don’t know if he really latched.
- Once we got back to our room and got settled, I figured that I would be able to nurse and it would be a storybook fairy tale of mother and baby bonding. It wasn’t.
- I ended up working with the lactation consultant. I couldn’t figure out how to get him to latch. Since I was still recovering physically, I was exhausted and I felt like I couldn’t do it. (I can totally understand why women would get frustrated at this point and turn to the formula that is everywhere in the hospital. Fortunately, my midwife and the lactation consultant were incredibly supportive and I am a very stubborn woman. This baby was going to be breastfed.)
- When we got home and my milk came in, things got a little easier. We had some minor latch issues and I was able to take care of them with a brief visit to a lactation consultant.
- Things were going better.
- I started pumping. We split shifts with the baby at night. I went to bed really early and my husband went to bed late. This meant that, ideally, we could each get 5 hours of sleep. During that period when I was asleep, the baby received expressed milk in a bottle.
- Everything was going pretty well until I started breaking pumps through the act of turning them on and expecting them to properly operate. The one covered by the insurance company was not good. (The Ameda Purely Yours. I don’t recommend it since three died while I had them and they became less helpful as it kept happening.)
- I became fixated on the amount that had to be pumped in order for me to get sleep during a particular night. If there were supply issues or a pump problem, I was panicked.
- I then switched to a different pump. Then a pump that a friend gave me. Then after talking with another friend, I rented a medical grade pump. Quality of life skyrocketed after that.
- Now, when the baby is home, he nurses for all but his pre-bedtime feedings. We got into a routine there and this way, my husband gets to feed him and share part of that quality time. When the baby is at school, I pump and send bottles.
- I would rather clean every inch of my bathroom with a toothbrush and my spit than pump. I HATE it. But even though I hate it, it’s allowed me to continue giving the baby breastmilk. So I do it. I complain about it all of the time, but I do it and will continue to do it.
- He is 7 months old. He was exclusively breastfed for the first six months of his life. We are slowly introducing solids. He also gets about a cup of water per day in a sippy cup.
- He is thriving and happy.
- I have been asked about how long I intend to breastfeed. My answer is usually that I will go for as long as he wants. I hope that we can get to a year or beyond. If he wants to wean before then, I will follow his lead.
- After he does wean, there will be a very big party because I won’t have to pump anymore.
My breastfeeding tips (I’m not an expert, so I don’t really think I’m qualified to give tips that aren’t related to my own experience. This is what has worked for me.):
- Breastfeeding seems like it should be easy and natural and if it is hard, you might feel like a failure. You aren’t. Seek support. Talk to your friends and family with experience. It’s so important to remember that you aren’t alone and most women I know have felt the frustration that comes along with the process.
- If you are going to pump, make sure you get a decent pump. The pump from the insurance company made my life miserable for about a month. Using the rented medical grade pump was like petting a unicorn, a baby sloth and a kitten at the same time. (Considering how much I hate pumping with the good one, you can imagine my state of mind with the old one.)
- It can hurt. The little guy’s teeth haven’t come in yet, so I’m not talking about biting. If it really hurts, talk to a lactation consultant about the baby’s latch. I had the baby positioned all wrong and it was causing me pain. After we fixed that, the pain has significantly decreased.
Here are my final profound thoughts about breastfeeding.
- I KEPT A TINY HUMAN ALIVE FOR SIX ENTIRE MONTHS WITH NOTHING MORE THAN MY BOOBS. In other words, I think I’m am a sorceress.
- I am sooooo grateful to everyone has given me their advice and let me vent during this process. I have asked Emily so many questions that start with, is it normal for X
- To keep my supply up, I take fenugreek. It is what they use to artificially flavor maple syrup. My sweat and pee smell like maple syrup. I used to love pancakes. Now, I don’t want to get near them. Fenugreek has ruined one of the greatest breakfast foods ever. I realize that sweat can smell a lot worse than maple syrup, so I should be grateful.
- Nursing bras are some of the ugliest ace bandage looking things in the world. Every time I get to wear a real bra, I want to do the dance of joy.
- Breastfeeding can be really stressful if you are worried about supply. Chill out. You can feed your baby.
- The baby argues with my boobs sometimes. We really want to know what the conflict is about.
- I love the time that I spend feeding the baby. It is some of the best time during my day.
If breastfeeding works for you, awesome. If it doesn’t, it’s okay. It’s not always easy, but it has been worth it.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week. (This is a present holiday, right? I hope Santa brings me something from my Amazon wishlist. I hope that my husband understands that he is Santa.)