Wednesday, October 10, 2007

my breastfeeding experience

Today my baby is 4 weeks old. That's 4 weeks of a small indecisive person sucking on me night and day. We are finally finding a rythm, he is getting better at making up his mind he wants to eat and getting down to business, or maybe he is just finally waking up, he is only 4 weeks old!

I was able to beastfeed my first son for 14 months. Yeah, I know, that's a long time. Noone was more surprised than me! You see i thought the whole thing was gross, it made me sort of squemish to see other woman do it. I never knew where to look, but I did what everyone should do. I minded my own business and looked away. oh, and I tried to act normal.

The thing is I'm a nurse, and when I was pregnant with my first son I had just finished nursing school. Six months before my first pregnancy I was doing my student nurse rotation on a maternity floor of a hospital. I was responsible for trying to assist new moms with breastfeeding, I was learning all about how it is done, how good it is for the mom and baby, and for me the best and most important feature-the immunity it passes on the the baby. A jump start for their immune system! With all the germs out there, with all the drug resistant germs out there, how could I not at least try to do this for my kid, even if I wasn't *ahem* comfortable with it.

So I gave it the old college try, and when I decided to try I meant it I went to a breastfeeding class and brought my husband with me, (ok so I refused to touch to fake boob they passed around and may have made a few immature jokes, noone but my husband heard me I swear)
I did this even though I was sure the whole thing would just fail, and I could use formula and say-well I tried. I knew enough to know that it was hard, that lots of people had trouble, so I went into it expecting it not to work.

Well imagine my surprise when it not only worked, I never had any complications! I had a day of trying to get my sleepy baby to latch on, I had sore nipples for a few days, that was about it. Oh and when i went back to work and pumped he wasn't so thrilled about that whole bottle thing. (my husband broke him eventually)

We nursed through teething with no issues-he never bit me, we nursed through solid food introduction, we nursed straight through his first birthday. After I went back to work and we both adjusted to that transition it was easy, it was cuddly, it was my time with my baby after I came in from work at midnight. I got to hold him, smell him, cuddle him, rock him, while he filled his little belly so I could then go to bed already!

Breastfeeding in public was hard, just because I am a private person and I remembered how I used to feel about seeing it. I quickly got over that once I was out in public enough times with a hungry baby. My best tricks are-using a fitting room in a department store when at the mall-I just took in a clothing item I had no interest in trying on so noone would question me. (note this doesn't work anymore when baby is too interested in the new surroundings to latch on), timing outings so I would only be out an hour or less, feeding baby in restaurants below the level of the table-worked for me cause i'm really short with big boobs. Or parking my car way out in a parking lot and feeding the baby there. I also nursed in groups with other moms, nothing says leave us the hell alone then there being more than one of you!

My only regret with our breastfeeding experience is I didn't know the last time I breastfed him it would be the last time. I had weaned him down to once or twice a day, and one night I offered him a cup of cows milk while I rocked him at bedtime, he asked to breastfeed. I fed him and decided I would let him ask from then on. He never did again. From then on it was cows milk at bedtime.

I think it is important for anyone starting this journey to at least attempt to nurse, like they mean it. Go into it knowing it is harder on the mama, you sit up however many times a night while your spouse sleeps, you have sore nipples, you worry about pumping, having enough milk, making sure you eat and drink enough each day. never mind the exhaustion, the desire for some personal space (could noone touch me for five minutes please!) never mind the lack of sex drive.

It helps to have a supportive spouse-and I do. It is a must to state your needs-as in I had better get a nap today honey! Sleep really does effect breasmilk production-take it seriously. I also joined a breastfeeding new mothers support group through the hospital I delivered in. I didn't have any problems to speak of, but each month of breastfeeding presents its own issues, and it was nice to talk to other moms and know what might be coming, or how they dealt with their issues.

If breastfeeding doesn't work for you and your family-fine, I am no nipple nazi. I think it is more important that moms be happy with their babies, whether that be bottle feeding or breastfeeding, but I wish more people got educated before they deliver their babies, and tried.

Excuse me I have to go feed my baby now!

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