Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WARNING - May be controversial!

Are you scared? Are you thinking, "what is this right-wing psycho going to talk about now?" Don't worry - I won't drag out my views that Obama is the anti-christ, nor will I lecture you on the astronomical taxes we pay...I'm going to blog about breastfeeding.

It's one of those topics that I never thought much about before Lil Major came on the scene. I'd thought enough about it to know that I wanted to nurse my kids, but I was known to discreetly sneak out of the room to watch football with the guys when the women started talking about sore nipples and pumping.

Well, now I'm part of the club!

One of the (few) classes that The Colonel and I took in preparation for the arrival of Lil Major was breastfeeding. To be honest, I wasn't expecting to learn all that much in it. I'd read a lot about breastfeeding, my mom and sis had had no issues with it, so I thought I'd follow suit.

Boy, was I wrong! But, before I get into that, let me tell you WHY I am so intent on breastfeeding (and NO, La Leche League is not sponsoring this post).

Here are my reasons for breastfeeding, in order of importance to me:

1. COST (yes, this is my first reason). Do you know how much formula costs??? And my body makes milk FOR FREE!
2. NUTRITION - it's well known that breast milk is the best thing, nutrition wise, for our kids -- we've all heard all the reasons why
3. It seems to be how God intended us to feed our babies
4. It burns 500 calories/day (which made me THINK it would help me lose baby weight...but now I find out that that only works for some people...some people HANG ON TO THAT EXTRA WEIGHT while they're nursing and lose the last 10 pounds once they stop - this appears to be happening to me...STINK!)

Others say they want to nurse to help them bond with their child. This wasn't one of my reasons, and I didn't really understand how that worked anyway...but I do now. And I definitely think it's helped us bond. I LOVE the time I spend with Lil Major, just him and I.

Ok, so that's why I wanted to do it. And I really never even considered I would have a hard time doing it. I was a little nervous about what it would feel like, and if I would experience the soreness that a lot of women talk about, but overall? I thought I would be a pro in no time...I definitely knew that I'd have NO problem producing enough milk.

And then the babe was born, and then I tried to nurse, and then...NOTHING! I knew we were going to have issues when I saw that my b00b was 3 times the size of his little head! He wouldn't latch on. He'd latch on for 3 sucks and that was it...or he wouldn't latch on at all. I stayed calm. I asked for the lactation consultant to visit us. I insisted that we WAIT to supplement.

The consultant came by, and she commended me for staying so patient. She worked with me (all the while holding my b00b in her hand - that was weird at first) for the 3 days we were in the hospital, and we weren't really getting anywhere. I was starting to freak out a bit. The pediatrician insisted that we supplement because my milk hadn't come in yet, so pumping wouldn't help, and Lil Major had jaundice and a low temperature.

We started out by cup feeding him formula. We didn't want to introduce a bottle yet. At the same time, the Lactation Consultant gave me a nipple shield to try. I'd never seen or heard of one before, but it basically puts a layer of silicone over your nipple. In my case, it helped the kiddo latch on...for others, it puts a barrier between you and the baby and helps with the soreness.

We tried the shield in the hospital, and even that wasn't working, so we were sent home with the shield, the cup, and formula. And I talked on the phone to the consultant several times. The first night we were home, we gave him formula. I was starting to get frustrated now. The formula stunk (literally!), I was starting to see dollar signs, and I was afraid the kiddo was starving. Then The Colonel remembered the shield...and he told me to try it again. What do you know?? It worked!! I gave a full feeding to my son...from my own body!! From then on, and to this day, he's had nothing but breast milk.

And guess what?? I STILL have to use that silly shield. It's awkward and difficult to use in public (I need at least one more hand), but I don't care. I'm feeding my son the way I wanted to from the beginning. The consultant told me that eventually Lil Major would not want the shield anymore...well, that hasn't happened, and although I occasionally work with him to try to get him to nurse without it, I have to admit I don't push it.

SO, the reason for my post, and the potentially controversial statement I'm about to make is this:

Almost ANYONE can nurse their baby if they choose to.

I know there are a few exceptions, and that's why I say ALMOST ANYONE. If you don't get your milk or you have medical issues, then it probably won't work for you. BUT, pretty much any other reason? Try it, don't give up, ask for help, don't be scared!

My girlfriend just had her third baby, and while I was visiting her in the hospital she mentioned that her nipples were shredded. I asked her if she'd seen the lactation consultant (she was at the same hospital I had been at), and she said no. I don't know why the nurses don't push that more...they're there to help and they're FREE! Yes, FREE!

There are so many tools and resources out there if you really want to breastfeed. That's one of the things I learned in the class that we took, and now I've learned it from experience, too.

If you decide to try it, don't give up after the first day or week or even month. I'm SO glad that I didn't...and I'm already dreading the day when Lil Major doesn't want to nurse anymore...it's our special time together, and I love it!

I'm kinda scared to see who ends up at this post from a google search...what with all the choice words that I use!


Rachel O said...

Being someone who has 0 children but hopefully will someday, I found this very interesting. I'm taking notes.

I also laughed out loud at "b00b" because i knew why you did it. NO DIRTY SEARCHES!

MammaMia said...

GOOD JOB! I hear of all the excuses why people stop. Most of the time they are just that, excuses. And I totally agree, FREE is one of the best reasons. Formula is insane!

Band of Brothers said...

I love that you never gave up. Finn started off okay. Then at 2 months old, seemed frustrated and would scream a lot, so my SIL suggested trying the football style hold to see if he got more that way...and he did. and we ended up in the football hold the REST OF HIS NURSING CAREER. Ak.I could never feed him in public. He insisted on being a football. When Calvin was born, we started off football style due to the c-section, but I practiced every single day, til I finally got him conventional style. All this with a horrific yeast infection on my left boob that was so painful for 6weeks. After that it was smooth sailing. And with Ollie it was smooth sailing from the second he was born. It gets easier and you have more milk with each kid. But, it does take a lot of effort at first, especially if you have pain issues. I love the bonding and would not trade it for the world!

Carol VR said...

The nurses do double duty in the hospitals as well in CANADA aiding and answering any questions. I ended up with mastitus and I can assure you it was WEIRD having the nurse massage and apply heat wraps to by milk swollen boobs.

Terri said...

I was unsuccessful for all three of my children because they were all early or because of pain issues. I have to admit I wasn't as committed as you are so yeah we invested a small portion of our life savings in formula for three! It is definitely best for the babe and I'm glad it worked out for you.

Sally said...

Mammamia - I guess some people just make excuses, but I really think that a lot of people just don't know how much is available to them. I guess some people think it's weird to breastfeed or it seems inconvenient, and they may make excuses, but I've met a lot of people who really WANTED to do it and just never got the help to make is successful for them.

band of brothers - I forgot to mention the football hold in my post - I used it, too! It was so much more comfortable after the c-section. And I tried it a couple weeks ago when he was getting fussy during feedings again, but he just seems to big now...how did you do it when they got so big??

Daisy said...

I agree that some cases just take committment, Sally. Like Lily, who, in true Lily style, decided to wait until she was 10 days old to nurse. She had this champion latch, and then she would just sit there blinking at me like it was just supposed to pour into her mouth from there. No suckling for her! So in the meantime, I pumped, and we finger-fed her (using a syringe with a tiny tube while she sucked my finger!) because I was determined not to put a bottle in her mouth until after she learned to nurse. And then, magically, miraculously, on day 10, I sat down try nursing her, as I had every two hours of every day, uttered my usual "please, God" prayer, and away she went like she'd been nursing all her (short) life! Little punk. My first lesson on how Lily operates on her own time schedule. But I am so glad I stuck with it!

Terri said...

What a great post...I share all your same views! It's one of my "soapboxes" you could say:)I nursed all 3 girls for a year and nursing is going well with Zane also...it's such a special bonding time! I actually had to use the shield with Taegan too and I remember it was kind of a pain, but eventually she didn't need it anymore. So far the worst thing has been having to find places to nurse and then put up with the stares from people...but hey, my baby has to eat too! Keep it up!!!

Agnes said...

Again, I can totally relate. I didn't really know how I'd feel about breastfeeding before I had Hudson, but now I can honestly say that I love it. And not just because of the money saving. I love the time we spend together and I love that I have something I can give him...and not just the milk. I think he likes the comfort of it.

I'm sorry it's been a challenge for you. I was lucky that it's been really easy for us. I'm sure the day will come when I will change my mind, but for now I don't want to stop!

Amy said...

You are totally "singing my song." Thank you for being brave enough to write this post. It really is all about determination and education. I've nursed all three of mine. The first two until they were about 15 months old, and my youngest just turned a year old yesterday. We're still nursing. There are SO MANY benefits. Have you seen this list? It's AWESOME!



Cheeziemommie said...

I love this post, I love that you shared it! When I had my first I really wanted to nurse but could not really get the hang of it, it hurt, I wasn't eating enough (had NO appetite) and while I feel like all of these are excuses I really feel like I didn't KNOW what I was doing! So I gave up, she did get a good 5 1/2 weeks of breast milk and I really attribute that to her being so healthy her first year of life (silly maybe?). But then when my son came along a mere 13 months later I didn't even TRY to nurse him, not even once :( cause I thought I just was one of those women that "couldn't" nurse. And NO ONE pushed me or questioned me. And now that is a HUGE regret of mine, especially because of HIS health issues his first year of life. Weird huh? Anyway all of this to say congrats on not giving up! And keep enjoying those special moments with Lil Major and don't hesitate to share this with other new moms!

Laura said...

Amen to all of it! And...(sigh) I miss nursing... :)

Lewis Family said...

I nursed Cade until he was 11 months old (I was forced to stop when I got diagnosed with Graves Disease and the medicine was excreted in my milk.)

Breastfeeding came so naturally to both of us, but the worst part for me were ugly stares and ugly comments from other people. Many people (including family members) were totally discussed I chose breastfeed my baby for as long as I did. I felt it was the most natural thing in the world and it would confuse me greatly to hear other women put down my decision.

Women need to be confident about breastfeeding, not intimidated. Just like labor, your body and baby know what to do. And if you need help, it is available. I think women tend to tell the worst, most horrible stories (it hurts, the baby won’t latch, you are too tied down, formula is so much easier), rather than empower each other and say, “You can do it!”

As you can tell I am quite passionate about this subject. I applaud you and anyone else who makes breastfeeding a priority.

Band of Brothers said...

in answer to your question on how to football nurse when they are so big...i mainly did the football on Finn, who was the tiniest pipsqueak of a baby there ever was. but we used the boppy and lots of pillows, hence i could never feed him in public. that was my motivation to get calvin conventional style and i'm so glad i was able to do the switch. i cannot even imagine being housebound like that again. but for finn, it was worth it to me, since his happiness and meals were pretty much the only important things in the world to me:)

abbagirl74 said...

I breast fed my kid and I am so glad I did. Not only were the diapers a lot easier to handle, he never got sick. As soon as I stopped breast feeding and he had to take formula for awhile, well, let's just say, diaper duty was horrible. I hope you don't have to endure that.

Nora Dalasta said...

I do think that most women can nurse but, as someone who suffered through a really painful thrush infection for the first three months, I also understand why some women give up. I got to the point where I would cry every time I knew feeding was imminent. It was a horrible way to feel about feeding my baby and for sure delayed my bonding to him. I did get through it, however, this victory took a lot of support in the form of 3 different lactation consultants and, most of all my husband. If it wasn't for Darren, I would have given up in a sleep-deprived moment of I'm-so-desperate-to-not-be-in-pain-for-one -day! I agree that support is key and want to also add that not every LC is good at what they do. Get the name/number of a good one with lots of experience before you give birth! You can read my labor/lactation experience on my blog http://www.lactationconsultant.com/2008/06/preparing-to-breast-feed/


Paulette said...

I've had the opposite experience as Davi - less milk each time and this time I've been fighting infection after infection. I thought that was only supposed to happen in the beginning but mine didn't start till after he was six months. We're plugging along but I am relieved that he's finally taking a bottle so that I can supplement now and then. It just goes to show you that no matter how many babies you have, each experience is totally unique. Just when you think you've got it down, a little one shows up to put you in your place. I think this is the theme of parenting!

Eliza said...

After I brought my husband to tears when he saw my pain, I began using the shield and never looked back. Hopefully, I'll be able to do it the right way for the next baby (if there is one).