World Breastfeeding Week is always the first week of August, and therefore it was August 1-7 this year. Even though today is the 8th, I still wanted to post about breastfeeding – I guess my timing is close enough! Even though I’m not longer nursing a baby (or a toddler), breastfeeding is a topic that is very near to my heart. The following is my story and it in no way is meant to make anyone feel badly if they did not or could not breastfeed their children.
Before my daughter was born, I didn’t realize how strongly I wanted to breastfeed. I guess I just thought I’d try it and see how things went.
After my daughter was born, I spent a horrendous night on a gurney in the recovery room after an emergency c-section, holding my newborn to my breast and not realizing that she wasn’t latched on at all. Because I wasn’t on the maternity floor, no one would help me to feed her.
Once we reached our room in maternity, it was just as hard to find help with nursing. My daughter would scream, I would feel frustrated, and sometimes, after 20-30 minutes of this, she would latch on. The nurses came in to ask me how long she nursed and on which breast, but beyond that, they did nothing.
Until they started worrying that she was losing weight. Then they were quick to push formula on us. That was when I started to realize exactly how much I wanted to breastfeed. Any time the word formula was mentioned, I would burst into tears.
Finally, one of the nurses suggested using a manual breast pump to help draw out the colostrum and then quickly remove the pump and latch on the baby. After even more tears on my part – I didn’t understand that she didn’t want me to pump and then bottle feed the expressed breast milk – we did this and it worked.
My milk came in after 3 days at the hospital and nursing became easier, but the previous weight loss was still on my daughter’s chart. A pediatrician from our chosen practice came into the room while my daughter was latched on and nursing and told me that I should keep my baby swaddled. Why wasn’t she swaddled? Because that was how I woke her up to feed her. After taking the baby from me for an exam, the doctor told me she was begging me to supplement with formula. Needless to say, I refused to see that specific doctor for almost two years!
After we got home, the blues set in. I was crying constantly. I talked to my OB about the problem and he told me it was ok to stop breastfeeding if it was making me crazy. Actually, it was breastfeeding that saved me. From not feeling like my daughter was mine and rather had been ripped from my body, breastfeeding bonded us like a mom and baby should be bonded. When she needed me, I provided for her. In fact, I regret that I didn’t nurse her even more in the first few weeks, as she may have actually slept more if I had!
I ended up nursing her for 13 months total. I breastfed both of my sons for 2.5 years each. This means I breastfed for a total of more than 6 years!
I thought I’d share a few things that I considered worthwhile as a breastfeeding mom. If you want to create a gift for a new mom who is breastfeeding, I love the idea of putting together a basket of items that could help her out with nursing and also help her take care of herself while she takes care of her baby. Here are some things I would include:
1. A magazine, or other reading material for mom to read while nursing. It can get boring after awhile.
2. A Moby Wrap is so great for newborns. You can snuggle them close and get lots done around the house at the same time.
3. A nursing bracelet. You use this to help you remember which side you last nursed on and therefore which side to start on next time.
4. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is the best breastfeeding reference book out there, straight from La Leche League.
5. A boppy pillow. I know there are a lot of types out there, but I used my boppy for all 3 kids and loved it.
6. Nursing pads. These help with leakage. Some people prefer the disposable type, but I like the cloth ones.
7. Water. I got so thirsty in the early days of nursing. I needed water bottles all over the house so I could drink whenever I was nursing!
8. A nursing tank. I like the ones from Target. They are awesome for nursing discretely – just lift up your shirt and unclip the bra part and your stomach stays covered up while you nurse.
9. Nursing necklace. For older babies who are interested in the world around them, they can play with your necklace while they nurse.
10. Lansinoh cream is great for sore nipples as you adjust to breastfeeding.
11. Snacks. Have them available!
If you have a breastfeeding story, feel free to share. I’d love to hear about it!