My Breastfeeding Experience...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Photo Source: Google

So pretty much from the time I got pregnant, I'd planned on breastfeeding little Caroline. I have a really good friend who has always been a strong advocate of the benefits that it offers to mama and baby and I'd done my research, too so I knew that the health benefits for her were amazing. My most basic thought on the matter is why would your body make nourishment for your child and you not take advantage of it if you can. I know not everyone has an easy time establishing a milk supply, and breastfeeding just isn't for some people...to each their own. Seems to me like formula companies are spending buckets of money trying to make formula what breast milk already is, so if you can take advantage of it, do it to it.
Within about twenty minutes of giving birth, Caroline and I were doing Kangaroo Care when she rooted her way to her first latch and she did it like a champ! She did really well the first day we were in the hospital, and then went about 13 hours and wouldn't eat a thing. I'm assuming the trip she'd just taken was a pretty exhausting one so I guess that's understandable, but we had a lactation consultant come in nonetheless...She had that baby latched in less than a minute. She told me that if the baby was having issues latching, or just didn't seem interested in eating for such a long period of time, to rub my pinky finger on the hard palate of the roof of her mouth. I did it and she immediately latched onto my pinky, then I was able to easily transition her onto the breast and she was eating once again. I would definitely advise anyone who wants to breastfeed to either meet with a lactation consultant ahead of time, or know where to find one for after your baby comes home.
Once we brought Caroline home, I was pretty adamant about not giving her a pacifier for two reasons...1) I didn't want her to get nipple confusion, and the nurses had told me to wait until she was one week old before I gave her one to avoid this problem. 2) Why make life down the road more difficult when you're going to have to break the paci habit. Well, within about 4 hours of having that baby home, she was having an absolute hissy fit, so the paci went it! Annnnd then she went about eight hours without eating so I was convinced that I had ruined her latch, confused the hell out of her and was going to have to give her formula which I absolutely did not want to do. I called my friend to ask for her advice and to see if I'd done irrevocable damage to my poor paci-sucking baby and she reassured me that I hadn't...turns out the baby was just in her over-stimulated phase from all the changes of leaving the hospital, car ride home, new smells and sights of the house and all the people in it.   The first night home was a rough one, but she did finally latch on the next morning and eat. I think I had just gotten myself so worked up that I couldn't relax and help the poor child latch. 
Photo Source:  Google

Day four, I was introduced to the awesomeness that is engorgement. My boobs have never been bigger or more sensitive than they were those two days. I thought they were never going to stop growing, but after the two days, they went back to "normal", or at least normal for the fact that I was breastfeeding. After about the first week and a hald, my boobs felt like they had been roughed up with sandpaper and then had alcohol poured on top. Please excuse the graphic imagery, but it hurt like Hades and there were some times Caroline would eat that I would literally cry it hurt so bad. To spite using Lanolin and following all the steps I was told would make the experience "enjoyable" I found that to be a lie, but I was committed to getting through it if for no other reason than to earn my stripes (no offense meant to anyone who didn't or couldn't breastfeed, I was just determined to see it through).  This pain lasted about a week for me but it did get better after that.
I waited until she was about three and a half weeks old to try giving her a bottle, and I personally still haven't fed her one. I read someplace that it's better for someone else to give her a bottle the first few times since she associates mama with breastfeeding.  My husband gave her her first bottle which she chugged and her very next feeding, she went back to breastfeeding no problem. I think sometimes it's obviously important to listen to the doctors and nurses, but in a lot of instances, it pays to just trust your parental instincts as well. So many nipple confusion possibilities exist between breastfeeding, bottles, pacifiers, etc, but I finally figured out that babies are smarter than they're sometimes given credit for. The pacifier hasn't confused her and neither did the bottle, although she's only had it twice now. I did pump for a shopping day out of town my mother and I took and started giving her a bottle, but it just didn't feel right to me to feed her that way, so I ended up not using it.  Over the next few days though, she'll have a few different people watching her between my first hair appointment in a year, a dentist appointment and a few hours at work, so she'll be getting in a lot of practice with the bottle. I think a part of me likes the fact that I'm the only one who can give her what she wants when she's hungry. Makes me feel needed ;) I use an Avent manual breast pump and just pump on one side while she eats on the other.
All in all, I would definitely recommend trying to breastfeed to anyone who's considering it. It's absolutely not easy, at times it's painful, and it's exhausting when you're the only one getting up every time she wakes up at night, but when there are so many undeniable health benefits for both baby and mama, it's at least worth giving it a fair shake. I plan to breastfeed her exclusively for six months and would like to store up enough in the freezer to be able to have an additional six month supply.  Like I said, it's not always easy, but I sort of feel like I've joined an exclusive sorority or some secret society. There's a camaraderie amongst those who have or are breastfeeding...a sort of unspoken bond that's hard to understand until you're in it. And the bond that I feel like Caroline and I are forming is immeasurable. Being a mama is a tough job, but the rewards are boundless as far as I can tell...at least until she learns to back talk as a teen...

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