8.01.2012

World Breastfeeding week 2012: Our Journey


Since becoming a Momma, I've become really passionate about breastfeeding. During pregnancy it was "we'll try our very hardest to make it work". I was well aware that many Mom's stop attempting early thinking there's something wrong and that they "can't nurse" for whatever reason. The inability to actually breastfeed is rare. That wasn't going to be me.

It was definitely hard in the beginning. I was a new Mom who had no idea how to get my baby to latch. I had Finley in the morning. She had to go to the nursery for monitoring for a few hours. Since she was three weeks early, she had trouble regulating her temperature and blood sugar at first. All was fine within a few hours. I had very little help with nursing correctly that first day. They just kept and asking how long she was nursing and how often but never really assisted to make sure we had it down. I was attempting. It was very important to me. I just didn't feel like Finley was actually working to get anything. I didn't even know if she was fully latched on. Finally, late that night, while Joe was asleep, tired and frustrated, with my crying baby, I called the nursery. "Nurse, I don't think I have this nursing thing right. I don't think she's getting anything. She keeps falling asleep". I knew that nursing early on was important to get my supply established. An angel came to my room. Not the Lactation Consultant. She wouldn't be available until the next day! I'd done all my research. I knew how it was supposed to go. It's harder putting all that knowledge in action.

This angel of a nurse undressed Finley down to her diaper, rubbed her cold fingers swiftly across my  girls feet, back and tummy. Newborns are sleepy little things. She needed to be up to effectively latch on and suck. After she was woken up enough, the lady stimulated her lower lip, pushed her on and BAM. I knew then that I was really nursing! That was the moment that led to our success with nursing. Fourteen months and going strong.

The first couple of weeks were hard. It hurt. She nursed a TON. When awake she nursed sometimes every hour. At night we nursed every 2 1/2 hours. You're supposed to wake them to eat until they get back to their birth weight. Babies lose a little weight after birth. My girl was 6lb 4oz at birth and 5lb 14oz when we left the hospital. She got back to birth weight really fast. If I recall correctly it was less than a week.

Since she was still so tiny and had problems regulating her sugar in the hospital, I still woke her to nurse at night. I wanted to make sure her levels stayed normal. I feared every single latch on. It was agony, like little knives stabbing me. As she would latch on, I would cringe, clamp my eyes shut, bite my lip, ball my fists, whatever would help me endure that pain. We pressed on. This was my problem. This was going to work. My daughter was getting milk and she was thriving. I was scabbed. I got those cool jelly pads and some lanolin. Both helped very little. The cold did give a little relief. I knew that her almost constant nursing was good though. You absolutely need to nurse on demand, when your baby wants it. This is what stimulates milk production and establishes a good supply.

So we pushed forward. There were nights when I felt like all I did was nurse a mad, hungry baby; feeling like I wasn't making enough for her. This is a common concern. I was making enough. Babies just go through growth spurts and/or get frustrated with the speed and flow of milk. Very common. Joe would half sleeping pat my back in encouragement as I sat in bed nursing. Not like he could feed her. He commented once "you're so patient", in awe I think, while I sat there consoling and nursing ournangry baby. I think he was really surprised with this new, motherly side of me. It was great encouragement that I was doing my new job right. He's been so great all along in this breastfeeding journey.

I'd read that once you get over the early "hump", you're gold, that it becomes much simpler. So true. After a few weeks the pain subsided, nursing became easy, enjoyable even, not quite as frequent. I was the only one who could feed her. Nursing was our time. I was sustaining her life and packing on her pounds, 100%. It's the best thing for her, it's free, aside from milk baggies (if you pump), a good pump and some nursing bras. It doesn't require packing or cleaning bottles, powdered formula, water, etc. It's always handy and right there. The true lazy Mom's method of feeding.

Above all though, it's what's best for my baby. It's made specifically for babies with everything they need to thrive. Besides one bout of the Roseola virus (very common within the first two years of life) with a double ear infection caused by the Roseola congestion, my girl has yet to get a cold. I fully attribute that to the awesome immunity that nursing provides.

At six months old we introduced solid foods. She now eats three meals a day, plus snacks. We currently nurse about four times a day. I know my supply is decreasing. She doesn't take nearly as much. She does still want to nurse though and I am fully OK with that. I figured we'd be done by a year but at fourteen months, here we are. The US is one of the only countries off on our breastfeeding stance. Other countries fully support nursing wherever and for as long and mommy and baby please. Here, some people frown on it, which is really sad. Breastfeeding has been around since the beginning of time. It's how baby Jesus ate! It's how babies are supposed to eat. The World Health Organization recommends nursing for 2+ years. I have no idea why our country is so behind in this aspect. Hopefully, times are changing. My first goal was six months, then a year. My goals are met. I don't see us going past 18 months as F is nursing less and less. I think she is very slowly weaning. (Update: we went 21 months, several months after I got pregnant!) We will eventually be down to a morning and a night feed. I'm letting her naturally dictate things. I think we are both on the same page in this process. I would like body to myself for a bit before a second little one comes along. We'll see.

At the one year well visit, Finley's Pediatrician recommended introducing cows milk. We went with organic. Finley doesn't like cow's milk. She will take it in a bottle the two days I'm at work, mixed with a little pumped breast milk, but not from a straw cup. I don't want her getting a bunch of bottles at this point. We're trying to cut out the 2-4 she gets a week. Joe and I were discussing this and trying to figure out how to get her to take more, questioning if we really thought she "needed" cow milk at all. My gut was telling me she didn't. She's still getting my milk. Then Joe says casually says"well, that's cows milk. I think she's fine. She's getting yours and that's made for babies". Awesome, right? I couldn't have asked for better encouragement. I love having a partner who is so supportive of breastfeeding. I know I don't tell him enough but I really am proud to have a husband with those beliefs. Many women don't have that support and his is real and genuine.

My Mom has been great too. Many Grandmas aren't in regards to breastfeeding. Our parents came from a time that formula was believed to be superior. She has stated several times in reference to my nursing "she's never sick!". My Mother in law breastfed her kids for 2-3 years each. She's been really supportive too and causally asks "you're still nursing right?", every so often. Even my Dad makes comments about how he knows it's good for Finley and mentions "research supporting breastfeeding" that he heard on the news. I couldn't ask for a better group of supporters. It's obvious that our journey has given me a great love for nursing. The thought of Finley and I being done in the near future is bitter sweet. I'll miss it but I'll cherish these days forever.

Until the next go round'...

7 comments:

  1. Great post! I've followed your blog forever...our little girls are the same age (i'm Klovesp95 on our bump board)...Elena is still nursing about the same as Finley and I am planning on letting her wean naturally. We've also tried to get her used to organic cow's milk but she isn't a fan. Girlfriend knows where the milk she wants comes from and it isn't from a bottle or a cup! lol. It makes me sad that I constantly get the "you're *STILL* nursing??" from friends and family. Like it's a bad thing. Luckily, like you, I have a supportive husband. Keep up the good work, Mama and thanks again for a great post!

    Katie
    www.elenajosephine.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post. It's great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I get that "you're still nursing?" too. Yep, sure am!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post. I too, am a huge breastfeeding advocate. I struggled big time with the twins early on. Like you, I was determined to make it work. My twins were born a few days after Finley and at 14 months, we are also still going strong! They also feed 4x day with no signs of wanting to wean.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also wanted to mention that I agree that babies/toddlers do not need cow's milk. I wrote a blog post on dairy a few months back. Cow's milk is for the baby cow, not for a human!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congrats! :) I was just thinking about writing a breastfeeding post as well, as I have friends that are currently struggling with the first few weeks. This sums it up well!

    I stopped nursing Mack at 11 months....as I just dried up! Come to find out...it was because I was pregnant again! {Some people can keep nursing, others cannot.} My advice. Take some time to get your body back! Good idea. :) It was my plan, too. ;)

    Oh, and if you don't want to do cow's milk, try almond milk. It is the closest to breastmilk. We decided to skip the cow's milk route, and he went from breastmilk to almond milk, without a hitch! :)

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love this post! I weaned Ri at 11 months for several reason and I regret/miss it so much! Good for you for keeping with it!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...