HAPPY NATIONAL BREASTFEEDING MONTH!
Okay, I have been wanting to write on this topic for a while now, but because for so many people it really is still a hot button issue (as in formula vs. breastfeeding), I've steered away from it. It's to the point where I feel bad blogging about it because I don't want formula fed mamas to feel judged by me. On top of it, it's still somewhat of a taboo subject and there are sadly grown adults out there who are weirded out by the topic. I think this has been the BIGGEST motivation to write about it; if I were to stay silent because someone isn't comfortable with this topic, then I really am perpetrating the problem.
After a recent conversation with a friend of mine who is pregnant, I've decided to write about my feelings towards breastfeeding as well as my own personal experiences with nursing my daughter for the past (nearly) six months. I'm writing this blog and will be so honest in sharing so that HOPEFULLY a new mom out there will come across this who has the same worries I had and realize she's not alone. I hate to think that everyday there are women who forgo breastfeeding because of the fear of the unknown and if I can be any help towards promoting breastfeeding, even if it's just to one person, then I will feel really good about that.
I don't know about any of you first time mothers out there, but one of my biggest areas of concern when it came to breastfeeding was going from the mindset of my breasts being somewhat of a sexual object to my breasts being something used to feed my baby. And since there are many people who are so weirded out by breastfeeding, I was scared that it would feel perverted. To expand on that, I was just scared that it would feel sexual to breastfeed, you know? And that was beyond creepy to me. I told myself if it felt like that in even the slightest way that I was absolutely going to be done breastfeeding.
(Hindsight, this is crazy talk - but at the time, I had no idea what it would be like.)
But then I was in labor for like, 50 hours. And exhausted. And then at the end of it all, I had a baby to feed. The last thing on my mind when it came to first feeding Presley were my previous worries. My inner monologue sounded something like: "Oh my gosh, am I doing this right?" and "Ouch! This hurts! Why does this hurt? The book says it's not supposed to hurt..." and briefly "Is she getting enough?"
Breastfeeding a Newborn:
And there really hasn't been very much reason (or time) to look back. In the beginning, Presley and I both had no clue what we were doing. On top of the learning curve, Presley didn't have the best latch - so there was a fair amount of pain on my end the first few weeks. I used the Lanolin cream and took a warm shower every day to help ease some of the soreness. There was bleeding and scabbing, but once everything healed, breastfeeding started getting much better. But when things were pretty painful, I was able to use a nipple shield while nursing and it made it somewhat better. I didn't use it much as I didn't want Presley to get used to latching on the shield vs. on me to further the latching issues.
From the very beginning, I got the advice to set small, attainable goals for breastfeeding. At first it was just to survive the first 4 weeks of breastfeeding, the next goal was to make it until 3 months, and my current goal that I've been working towards is the 6 month mark - which we are currently 2 weeks away from meeting! Somewhere along the way it has become rewarding and completely fulfilling instead of being a chore or something I found to be inconvenient. So many times (especially in the beginning) I wondered what it would be like to formula feed; I felt like it must be so much easier and convenient and I wouldn't have this baby latched on to me 24/7! But in hindsight, those first few weeks of figuring everything out is
Breastfeeding Motivations & Opinions:
There were so many positive findings that led me towards breastfeeding for both Presley and I. The fact that breastfeeding lowers a mother's chance of ovarian and breast cancer was huge. But I cannot tell a lie, the biggest reason I looked forward to breastfeeding was because so many moms told me how it helped shed the pregnancy weight very quickly. Another huge motivator was (and still is) the fact that we don't pay a dime for Presley's food. Since I've chosen to stay home with her thus far and therefore do not bring in any income, it's been nice not having another expense on top of diapers, wipes, and my addiction to buying baby clothes on clearance.
Most importantly, I knew breastfeeding was and will always be the best option for my child. Breastfeeding can lower a child's risk of developing all kinds of illnesses or infections ranging from childhood leukemia to ear infections and many things in between. That's not to say that formula isn't a wonderful option - because what in the heck would we do without formula if for some reason breastfeeding wasn't an option? We would be lost! And I will always respect each woman's right to choose what they do with their own body.
I consider myself very lucky that even despite some issues in the beginning, that I've been able to nurse Presley because I know there are women who are not as fortunate. With that being said, my wish is that every mother give breastfeeding a shot. In addition, instead of breastfeeding being a good or even the best option, it should be the standard.
We've charted Presley's feeding schedule from the very beginning; first using pen and paper and then about a month or so into it I started using an app on my phone. (The app I use is "Baby Feeding Log" and I highly recommend it to smart phone/iPod touch mamas out there! It's free and extremely user-friendly. In addition to keeping track of feedings, you can log sleep time as well as diapers if need be!) I've enjoyed keeping track of Presley's feedings, mostly so I could pick up the pattern of when she wants/needs to feed throughout the day. It's also been nice in the instances when her routine goes out the window (for example, throughout her various growth spurts) to be able to figure out what her "new" routine is.
Nursing an almost 6 month old is much different than it was to begin with. I feel there are far less challenges today and that Presley & I have really gotten in a rhythm when it comes to feeding her. Our biggest hurdle these days in the breastfeeding department is making sure there are not too many distractions, otherwise Presley will lose focus and latch/unlatch several times. (And boy, does that get annoying!) But as long as we're in a relative quiet area, things go just fine.
Another (minor) challenge to breastfeeding these days is TEETHING. Presley chomps down on her hands, our fingers, her toys, and everything she get get in her mouth. This includes her paci, the occasional bottle, and YES... my nipple. (And it DEFINITELY hurts!) She's only done this a few times and I think my strong reaction is what keeps it from becoming a more regular occurrence. I can only imagine how this will go once she has teeth......
So, even though I haven't met the 6 month goal quite yet, I know there will be no stopping at that point either. So the next goal I'll set is 9 months!
One of the websites I often frequent lists the benefits your child receives from breastfeeding according to their age. In this past, these facts kept me motivated by reminding me why I was choosing to breastfeed. This website is formatted the same way and lists additional benefits by age as well.
I also use tons of apps on my phone that have helped with breastfeeding concerns including the Medela iBreastfeed App and the What to Expect: Baby App.
Also, to all you breastfeeding mamas, August 15th is Public Display of Breastfeeding (PDB) Day!
|This picture makes smile! "Breastfeeding Moms Band Together"|
I'm one of the many moms that nurse who are intimidated by nursing in public. Over 1,000 moms have pledged to breastfeed in public on the 15th in solidarity in order to help erase the stigma of breastfeeding. So of course, I've hopped on board and plan to take part in PDB Day. If you have the opportunity to do so, I encourage you and ask you to take part in order to encourage the normalcy of breastfeeding!
And lastly, I just want to thank my awesome, super supportive husband for standing by me from day one! He cares about my goals just as much (if not more) than I do. Not only that, but I mean it when I say he supports me. In the earliest days when feeding Presley was most challenging and even stressful, he made it his priority to make sure I was taken care of. While he was home that first week, he told me he was in charge of keeping me fed because I was in charge of keeping Presley fed. He did so much for me and continues to do so today - including filling up my glass of water whenever he's home whether I ask or not, changing countless diapers between feedings, and being incredibly loving and self-sacrificing for Presley and I.
I couldn't love him more.