- Why did you want to breastfeed?
It wasn't until I started frequenting online forums that I came across the notion that breastfeeding doesn't work for everybody. I had absolutely no knowledge of the specifics of how it worked, except a basic understanding that I had nipples and breasts for a purpose. I started to see that there were a lot of moms of all ages that had personal issues about breastfeeding, whether they were skeeved out by it or they felt guilty that they didn't want to do it or that they were absolutely determined and then had bumps in the road that they didn't foresee or they literally couldn't physically do it. I guess that is true with any online community, since there is a concentrated amount of women in one place, you begin to think that issues are more common than they really are or you are suddenly exposed to issues that are common that you had not previously been exposed to.
After 6 months of trying to conceive, I began to have bleeding problems and we knew that we were encountering fertility issues. All thoughts of breastfeeding really went on the back burner. While most people during their trying to get pregnant journeys research all of the parenting aspects that they think they will pursue, parenting in general became way too painful of a topic for me.
After the one year mark of trying to conceive and officially crossing over into the Infertility side, I met one of my cousin's girlfriend's friend's wife. (Did you follow that?) We were decorating Christmas cookies and this girl had brought over her brand new baby and she was breastfeeding him at the table while we were decorating cookies and she had him in a sling. She was the most peaceful and content looking mom I had ever seen or experienced and I was intrigued. I began to spend more time with Miranda over the next year that we lived in Wisconsin and I just watched and absorbed her nursing her son. It was always so peaceful and her baby always seemed happy and she was always holding him in the most loving way and I had just never experienced or noticed such a thing before. I had never seen a mom so peacefully in love with their child... it's so hard to explain what watching this relationship between Miranda and Keegan did inside my heart. Infertility was the hardest thing I have ever gone through and watching moms with their children broke my heart, but watching the peaceful way Miranda loved on her baby boy was sort of a balm on my broken heart. I loved being around them and even though I hardly got to hold Keegan because Miranda always held him, I loved witnessing such a beautiful thing in their nursing relationship.
The image of Keegan and Miranda stuck with me the next three years of trying to conceive. After 2 years of trying to conceive, we began to think about infant adoption and then after 3 years, we went to a seminar. While we discovered that it was not for us at that time, I had begun to research induced lactation with an adopted child. I read a little bit about it and I had seen the bond that Miranda had with Keegan and I thought that breastfeeding would increase my bond with my child.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I began to research breastfeeding and child birth more. Of course, I asked my source, Miranda, for her advice on a book to get me started and she steered me towards La Leche League's The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I bought the most current version on Amazon and devoured it as soon as it came in the mail. I marked up the margins and underlined and starred so many passages. I felt so empowered after reading that book and also found myself suddenly much more educated on natural child birth. I also read The Nursing Mother's Companion and Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding. I learned so much about how breastmilk was produced, how the baby's bodies were designed to eat breastmilk starting with colostrum, I learned all that I could and soaked it up like a sponge. I had no idea until I started reading about it that there were countless health benefits for both me and the baby... I thought I was just being frugal by wanting to breastfeed... and then later, I witnessed the emotional connection. Now I was learning about the physiological workings inside my body and inside my baby's body and how breastfeeding worked exactly and what kinds of effects that would have on my mental health and my physical health and my baby's physical and mental health. I felt 100% determined to make it work, no matter what the cost at this point.
When I started educating myself about the miracles and wonders of breastfeeding, I educated Jack as well. When we had learned all that we could, after reading countless online resources and as many breastfeeding articles as I could and the books, my husband and I had come to one undeniable conclusion... How could I NOT breastfeed?
- were you exposed to breastfeeding as a child? Was it the 'norm' in your family culture?
- what did you do to prepare for breastfeeding?
- Does it really come naturally?
- what did the first latch feel like?
- did your nurses try to push formula on you in the hospital?
I did have a pushy nurse who tried to push pumping on me. I refused to pump because I didn't think it was necessary. I asked repeatedly the first day for a lactation consultant, but the place was super busy (there were 25 babies born the day my son was born.) Arie slept a LOT the first day to the point where I was very concerned. I asked the nurses several times why he was sleeping so long (It turned out it was because of his circumcision and jaundice... the lactation consultant explained it to us when she came) The nurses wouldn't listen to me that I couldn't wake him up and suggested that I pump to feed him. I told them that I didn't want to use a bottle at all and they suggested that I pump and feed him with a syringe. I explained again that he had no problem whatsoever latching, it was that he wouldn't wake up to eat that was my problem. The nurse ignored me completely and came back with a breastpump. I asked for the syringes and she told me that they don't have syringes. Um what? You just told me to use a syringe. I did not use the pump and just continued trying to get him to wake up. She also said that I needed to use a nipple shield. Uhhhh no, I don't.
When the lactation consultant came in several hours later, she was furious that the nurse dumped the pump in my room. She was also more that furious that the nurse told me that I needed to use a nipple shield because of the shape of my nipples/areolas. She assured me that I did not need the pump or the shield if I didn't want it and that my son would be perfectly capable of eating once we woke him up and that the pump would cause more damage to my supply than good since he was already latching. She helped me wake him up by undressing him down to his diaper and helping me take my top off so that we could do skin to skin. She explained the benefits of his skin on my skin and how that was going to help him. After about 2 hours of help, Arie had been able to feed for about 25 minutes on each breast. She also taught me the hamburger hold and how I had to hold my breast and pinch my areola to make it fit comfortably in my son's mouth for him to have a successful latch. I still have to do this at 5 1/2 weeks old.
(Hamburger hold... don't mind the middle finger... that's really what I was taking a picture of haha)
The breast pump stayed in the corner of my hospital room taking up space until we left.
- My baby was screaming from hunger before my milk came in. Shouldn't I give him formula?
from Kellymom.com - http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/
So, your baby is not starving. There are several reasons why your baby could be crying, but the maximum stomach capacity is hardly variable. Your baby does NOT need that much colostrum/milk at ALL until your "milk comes in." And also, "Milk coming in" is a myth. Colostrum is still breastmilk. It is specifically designed and intended for your newborn baby. Your BEST bet on getting your milk supply to meet your baby's needs is by keeping them at your breast as much as possible. If you allow your baby to nurse (even "comfort nurse") for 30+ minutes, that is how your body will be signaled that it's time to release more milk.
- What do you have against formula? It's seems so much easier!
I believe that God designed my body to sustain a pregnancy while I carry my baby. I also believe that God designed my breasts to sustain my baby after it is born. After researching exactly what is in breast milk and how it works and the countless benefits for my baby, I personally believe that following God's plan and design for motherhood is how it should be for me. I believe that there is a reason that my breasts produce milk and my husband's do not and that it is 100% natural for me to be the sole food provider for my child.
Now as far as formula being "easier"... I have never heard anything more ridiculous.
Here is what I know and have seen with formula feeding moms:
-They need bottles... and often times, moms have to try several different brands of bottles and nipples in order to get the most successful match for their baby. Bottles are expensive. Nipples are expensive.
-With bottles comes with washing bottles and nipples and sterilizing. Sometimes requiring special equipment which costs money. Also, the amount of time it takes to wash bottles and mix formula is time away from your child and time away from every day life.
-Formula is EXPENSIVE. Often times, babies struggle with formula and parents have to try several different options before they settle on the formula that works best for their child without causing too much gastrointestinal distress. Formula runs out, so if you are not constantly keeping an eye on your supply of formula, you may find yourself in the middle of the night having to run to the store with a screaming starving baby.
-Formula has preservatives and often gets recalled. I could not imagine the stress of constantly watching the ingredient lists on cans of formula to make sure that there was nothing unsafe for my baby to consume. I could also not even imagine the stress that would come with finding out that I had been feeding my child a formula that had been recalled because it was unsafe.
-Formula poop stinks. There is absolutely a difference in the smell factor of the bowel movements of an exclusively breastfed baby and a formula fed baby.
-Formula is not natural. There is nothing man made that can compare in benefits to breast milk. There is unending research that shows the benefits of immunity in breast milk and how each meal is specifically tailored to your baby each time they eat at the breast as opposed to formula which has exactly the same content each time your child feeds.
-Formula is stressful. You have to watch exactly how much you are feeding your baby each time because you have to measure it out. You don't want to underfeed them and you don't want to overfeed them. When your baby is crying, you have no idea how much more or possibly how much less formula to give them in order to satisfy them.
-With formula, you need water and electricity. In the event of a natural disaster or power outage, it becomes stressful to find a way to feed your child.
With breastfeeding (exclusively, no pumping) I have no equipment to buy. I have no amounts to measure, nothing to sterilize or wash, nothing extra packed into my diaper bag while I'm out. I do not need to worry about running out, if my baby still seems hungry, I put him back on my breast and he has the freedom to eat as much or as little as he wants. I never have to be concerned with the amount of ounces he is eating since my breasts have no gauges. In the event of a natural disaster, I have the perfect food for him at the perfect temperature no matter what time of day or year. By the amount of diapers I change and my baby's healthy weight gain, that's how I can tell if he is getting enough to eat. Is he sleeping peacefully and is he content? Then he's eating enough. Easy peasy. Also, no watching the clock for a schedule... since I can't overfeed my breastfed baby, I don't have to watch the clock to make sure he goes a certain amount of time between feedings. He can eat whenever he's hungry and that makes it much less stressful on me because if he gets hungry an hour before his scheduled time to eat, I don't have to find some way to occupy him and pacify him to pass the hour before it's time to feed him.
- How long did it take for your milk to come in?
- Did you see a lactation specialist in the hospital?
- How many times do you have to feed him? I heard formula babies sleep longer through the night.
Middle of the night feedings are the quiet time where it's just me and him, and as tired as I am, I still don't mind waking him to this little face.
- How do you know he's getting enough milk?
- Emotional aspects of BFing
For me, breastfeeding is the ultimate. It's getting to be 100% mom, 100% of the time. I feed him 24 hours a day and when he cries, I can calm him in seconds with nursing him. It's amazing and fantastic and nothing that I can imagine could make me feel more needed by him. This type of emotional high is something that I dreamed motherhood would be like. As much as it probably bothers Jack that there are times that he can't get Arie to calm down or stop crying, it makes my heart overflow to be able to hold him close and have him feel instantly calm and secure and safe. I have nothing to compare it to obviously, and I have no perspective of what a formula feeding mom experiences like this so I have no idea if it's the same, but that is what I personally get out of breastfeeding.
I do consider it to be a big bonding experience, especially now that he makes eye contact with me while he's nursing.
- Do you pump?
- Has there ever been a moment when you wanted to throw in the towel and just give him formula?
- Do you think you would have such a strong bond with your baby if you were bottle feeding?
- How does it make you feel to know that your breasts are sustaining life?
- Are your breasts sore all the time?
- Do you wake up leaking?
- Do you nurse in public? How do you feel about nursing in public?
I guess I don't have any specific feelings about nursing in public, as much as I would have about a baby being fed however it's fed. It is what it is, it's a hungry baby eating. I personally have larger breasts which makes it more difficult to be discreet while nursing in public and I think it would be very noticeable if I didn't take some measures to help myself be more discreet. I generally wear a nursing tank top with a nursing bra (Bravado is awesome!) and that way it covers up my belly and each individual side will snap down at a time. Then I try to wear a tshirt or a long sleeve shirt over the nursing tank so that I have something that I can lift up and it will cover the top part of my breast and the tank top will cover my belly so that only my nipple is exposed and Arie's face/head will cover the rest of what is exposed. While out shopping with my husband, he came back to the truck and was talking to me while I was nursing Arie in the back seat and he was standing in the other door of the truck and suddenly he said that he hadn't even realized that I was nursing him. So if my husband who constantly oggles my boobs didn't notice what I was doing, I would say I am pretty successful at being discreet.
- Breastfeeding is supposed to be a natural thing, why do I need to "prepare" for it?
- Do you think success is possible with no preparation?
There are also women out there who just choose to do it and make it work themselves even with zero support. I think it's possible, but it will definitely be easier and less worrisome if you are educated and prepare and get knowledge about the whole process including possible issues.
- Where does your baby sleep?
(Side lying nursing in bed.)
This is how we sleep every night. I wasn't sleeping in this picture, but when I do go to sleep, my pillow is pushed much further back and I sleep on the very edge of it so that it's no where close to Arie's head. Also, all the blankets that he has are his receiving blanket and my arm that goes around him blocks the quilt that Jack and I sleep under from covering him.
This is how he sleeps almost every night. For some reason he has always liked his hands in his face, and he sleeps with his hands right by his head.
He falls back to sleep when side lying nursing in bed.
- How does your husband feel about breastfeeding?
- Have you ever had sore, cracked nipples?
- But aren't breast sexual?
It does bother me when Jack gets all happy about seeing my boobs all the time. I like that my husband is attracted to me, but I have to remind him not to make comments while our child is latched on. Also, I refuse to french kiss Jack while Arie is latched. Jack and I kiss a LOT, and we always have, so it's a bit of an adjustment to not be able to freely kiss my husband whenever I want or he wants, but I feel weird about any kind of kiss like that when Arie is latched.
Jack makes jokes about it whenever I show him how Arie takes naps hugging my boobs or I tell him how my boobs are comforting for him and that sometimes he will be screaming and then I put him to my breast to see if he wants to eat and sometimes he just wants his face by it. Sometimes that's just what he needs and Jack will joke that sometimes that's just what Jack needs too. Obviously he means it in a completely different way than what my baby needs. It's really hard to explain this.
Both my husband and I do have a sense of humor about him loving and needing my boobs though. This is Arie napping with his face pressed between my boobs. I had to laugh.