February 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Experience

Lots of my friends have been having babies lately, and while most of them are second time breastfeeding mommies, I had one friend who had her first child and was breastfeeding for the first time. I tried to encourage and offer advice. She was really nervous and had heard horror stories regarding bleeding and cracked nipples, mastitis, engorgement, and pain. She sort of stopped me in my tracks, and I began to recall my personal experience with breastfeeding Parker, and I wanted to share my story. Maybe if I type this out and gather my thoughts, I will be able to offer better advice and knowledge.

I did not breastfeed Lily. Didn't even try. Stupid, I know, but I can't really take that back, can I? I don't remember my milk coming in painfully, but I do remember having big boobs for a few days several days after she was born. I think I wore some 10 year old breastpads I found under my mom's bathroom cabinet to combat leaks, but that's about all I remember.

When I got pregnant with Parker, I was terrified of breastfeeding, because, like my friend, I had heard how hard it was to start. And while I fail at things a lot, I didn't want to fail at this. I didn't want to buy formula or give it to my baby. I reached out to every mom I knew who had breastfed. We discussed it at length during my husband's ball games. I read books, read online, etc. I bought lanolin, breastpads, and was prepared to send Shane out for cabbage leave or bags of frozen peas should pain or engorgement occur.

Parker was born via repeat c section. I was hell bent on nursing him as soon as possible. But, they whisked him out of the room while I was still getting stitched up for his bath and exam (insert major vent here and my desire to go to another hospital and have a better birth plan with my next child!)

I went to recovery, and then I went to my room, where I met my mom and sister. Shane was given strict instructions to stay with that baby and keep any drops of formula or bottles far away from him. I did not see Parker for two hours after he was born. I still have no clue why they had him for so long.

Two hours after he was born and I was in a drugged haze, they brought him to me. I nursed him for the first time. My mind was full of thoughts on the football hold and the correct latch. People kept coming in and out, and I was also trying to be discrete. His tiny head was so much smaller than my boob. I had no clue if I was doing it right, but he latched right on. The only thing my mom said I needed to do was make sure his nose wasn't smushed against my skin.

I was pretty proud. He was getting colostrum. Eating every two hours. Waking up and crying to eat. We had this! I was sore of course, but I had my lanolin and would apply it after he ate.

In the weeks that followed, I was sore. I was sore for about two weeks. My nipples were super tender, and it would also hurt when he first latched on. But it was nothing unbearable and nothing I couldn't get through. I'm not sure if my research and reaching out paid off, but I never had any bleeding or any serious engorgement. I was breastfeeding him under a blanket the week after he was born while sitting outside with family. It actually came a lot more naturally than I ever thought.

Almost eight months later, we still have an amazing breastfeeding relationship. He still nurses every two-three hours. He nurses for both survival and comfort. He usually wakes up once or twice a night to nurse as well. We've completely given up ever having a sort of schedule. He nurses when he wants or needs it. I'm ok with that for the most part. My type A personality yearns for control, but I know that's not best for him.

Pumping is another story. In the beginning, I constantly pumped bottles when we went out. I was able to leave him for almost 4 or 5 hours with a bottle. Heck, Shane and I even went to a Braves game sans baby. But, I really didn't keep up with the pumping. I guess if I offered the bottle daily, it wouldn't have been a problem. He grew to hate the bottle. He hasn't had a bottle in months now. Last time he did, he refused it and I had to hurry back. And, while sometimes it would be nice to escape, I know that breast is what he wants, and I'm ok with that. It's not like he is going to breastfeed forever, and I really must enjoy our bonding while I can. If I ever pump any extra now, I usually put it in his baby food. I ought to put some in a cup at some point, but there is rarely more than an ounce extra.

People ask me if I will wean him at a year. I sort of laugh. I can't imagine just taking breastfeeding away from this baby. He would be livid. I'm not sure how long I plan to breastfeed Parker. I'm definitely going to encourage him to eat more foods when he turns one, but the milk will still be here for him. I don't think turning one is the magic number to stop breastfeeding all together. How traumatic that would be for him.

I never imagine myself breastfeeding a toddler. But, as the year mark approaches,(that is insane to even say! My baby is growing so fast!) I don't see him refusing boob any time soon.

As a side bonus, I weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant. And my boobs don't look awful. But, they aren't any bigger anymore, unless he STTN, which is a rare occurrence. Breastfeeding is so insanely healthy for babies in so many ways. BREAST is BEST!

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