Sunday, November 6, 2011
352 Days + of Breastfeeding
By no means am I an expert on breastfeeding, but I sure feel like a pro after nursing my daughter for a year now. Breastfeeding has been a labor of love. I wanted to write a post about breastfeeding for all of you soon-to-be mommas out there and those mommas who can relate.
Right after Emery was born, the nurses placed that sweet bundle on top of me. As soon as I could, we went for it. That skin-to-skin first nursing experience. It was by the book. I thought, "Oh man! This is going to be so easy!" She latched on and nursed on both sides for 20 minutes each. Then, before her next feeding, the pediatrician came into my room and broke the news that Emery had broken her collar bone during delivery. I was devastated! When her next nursing session came, she started with a bad latch, and I was too afraid to move her to fix it. Big mistake! From that point on, we had some major issues! Emery Rose was born with this super suction ability.....and I felt it! I tried the nipple shield and still felt the pain, but we got through it.
Then, Emery refused to nurse at all. There were nights where I was crying, she was crying, and Jeremiah was crying. We headed to the local La Leche League meeting when she was 3 days old for some support and help. Thank God for them! But, she still refused to latch. And, I was in pain. We finally got to see a lactation consultant a couple days later. We found out she had nipple confusion and was just too weak to get a good latch going. So I started pumping and feeding her. She gained weight and energy within a couple of days; enough to where she would latch on to me with the shield. Then 2 weeks later she decided to latch on to me. It was a special moment. Unfortunately, somewhere in that 2 weeks she and I both got thrush. It was HORRIBLE! So painful for both of us. But we were determined and made it through after going through 3 treatments to fix it. Since then, nursing has been a breeze and I'm SO THANKFUL we stuck it out! We're still going with 2 sessions a day. Emery has been weaning herself which has been so bittersweet.
So...here's what I've learned:
1. If you think you'll just "try it", you probably won't last. You really have to be determined to nurse. Having 'no other option' in your mind going into it will help keep you going in the hard times. (Of course there are times where other options are needed -- no shame in that at all -- but if you're going into it as nursing being an option, it will become just that).
2. You're not only sharing your body for 9 months of carrying your little one, you're sharing it for however long you decide to nurse after that. During that Christmas dinner where you family is all sitting at the dinner table eating, you may have to nurse your little one while your plate gets cold. Having to really schedule your time away so you won't miss a feeding will just become a part of your life.
3. A support group of other nursing moms is a MUST. How women do it alone, I have no idea! I remember when our lactation consultant told us she was moving, I cried on the car ride home. Jeremiah thought I was crazy. But, there's just something about those women who help you learn how to feed your children. They always have a place in your heart.
4. It WILL get better and easier. Other mom's told me...wait 6 weeks and you'll see a big difference. Since we dealt with thrush it was a little longer than that, but I definitely agree that it gets easier.
5. Make sure your husband knows he HAS to be supportive and help you out. It took me 2 weeks to even learn how to figure out the logistics of nursing without help. My sister Amanda is already a pro and got it so fast! I'm super impressed.
6. Make sure your baby has a good latch from the get-go. Duck lips without the cracks of the lips touching is what the lactation consultant taught me. Thank you Lord for a good latch.
7. Nursing really shouldn't be painful. Those first few days you may experience intense tenderness. But nursing really shouldn't hurt. If it does, something is wrong...bad latch, thrush, or whatever. Get help SOON if it hurts.
8. Nursing is the MOST PRECIOUS TIME you will spend with your sweet baby. Only you can care for your child that way and what a special bond it is. Once Emery and I got past the issues, we have both really enjoyed it. I feel honored to have been able to care for Emery that way.
I hope you mommas who decided not to nurse don't feel any judgement...that's not where I'm coming from at all. Nursing does not make you a good momma. Making sure your child's needs are met (however that way may be) makes you a good momma. :) Nursing is just the way I decided to go. I'm so thankful for the experience. I also don't want to scare any mommas...from what I hear, my experience was not so normal. I just want to give support and encouragement to you if you decide to nurse. It really is a labor of love and determination. I'm looking forward to when Jeremiah and I have more children to see what my experience will be like when I know more of what I'm doing. And, I can't give enough thanks to all of the women who've helped me along the way. I don't know where we'd be without them!