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Now that Baby J is almost a year old (I cannot believe it!), I wanted to reach out to my readers who are either thinking about conceiving, already with child(ren), or for those that are just curious. I get asked so many times what being a mom is like, how did I know when the right time was and what the whole experience has been like. I love talking about it, actually. Being a mom has been an experience that I could have never prepared for. I tried, believe me, but the endless amounts of advise, literature and classes could not have prepared me for what I was about to go through.
I would like to start my series off on the topic of Nursing. Here are a few bullet points for those that don’t want to read the entire post. (It’s long!)
- Do what is right for you and your new baby! – I cannot stress this enough! Do not feel pressured to make a decision before having a baby and if you are dead set on strictly breast feeding please keep in mind that it’s not all peaches and cream like you have read and heard. You will experience highs and lows and they are all natural.
- You will be a walking buffet. – Your boob will get more exposure than a playboy bunny. You will be a prisoner to your newborn and his/her ravenous appetite! All you can eat – aint this the truth!
- Pumps, nipple cream and nipple shields, your new vocabulary. – Pumps are great for those that are working but still want to continue to nurse. Build your freezer stash so your nanny or husband can help with the feeding for once. Nipple cream will be your “breast friend”! They become chapped, sore and blistered and this thick, luscious cream will save your ta-ta’s! I loved Lansinoa Lanolin brand. And nipple shields – my savor! Latching problems will be instantly fixed with this perky piece of plastic. If you need to use them, please do!
- Helps heal you naturally. – Congratulations! You just gave birth to a 7 pound baby! And your body is completely flipped upside down – nursing helps heal the inside by lessening the postpartum internal bleeding and helps with the water retention.
- FREE FOOD! – Breast milk is free! Man, I wish I got free food! 😉
- Help protect your newborn – The antibodies in breast milk can help a baby resist infections which is very important the first few days of life. They were protected in your womb for 9 months and now they are out, breathing germs and being exposed to everything imaginable.
- The mother and baby bond – This is priceless. However, mothers that don’t nurse will still have that bond, believe me.
- Again, it is not easy! – Don’t beat yourself up over the hurdles, the guilt of quitting, the pressure of others and anything else that may come up. You are a new mom, your emotions are running wild and the last thing you need is feeling depressed and unhappy.
- Get help! – If you are experiencing trouble, you are not alone! The hospital has lactation consultants to help with any question you may have! Plus, there are hundreds of online resources for those middle of the night problems. I loved http://www.kellymom.com. This site has more than just breastfeeding tips and is a go to site for all new moms!
- Formula is not poison – It’s actually very reliable and well trusted, more so now than ever. Talk to your pediatrician before switching to formula to get advise on which is best – believe me, there are a ton to choose from! We went through 3 brand before finding out Jordan was lactose intolerant and was put on soy based formula.
Breast milk is the most natural, nutritious and most essential item for a new born baby. It is their food source for months to come and helps them grow and stay healthy. But in a world where breasts are looked upon as a sexual item, this could be confusing for some women and men. Although, it is more known today that nursing is the best form of nutrition for a newborn baby than any other time period. But it’s also the hardest, in my opinion. Sure, we as mothers have more information and tools to help us but there are other factors that we seem to forget about.
For one, the average household has to have two incomes, so fewer moms are able to stay at home for long periods of time. The average maternity leave is 6-8 weeks; but for those companies that don’t participate in paid maternity leave, women are forced to use their vacation or to just take time off without pay. This causes strains financially and forces new moms back to work earlier and earlier. Moms in this situation tend to put nursing aside and use something more convenient: formula.
But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you my experience. This may shed some light on this subject before just reading facts.
I planned to nurse from the very start. However, since I had never done this before I was prepared to go through downfalls and to not be mad if for some reason it did not work. I had come into contact with so many pregnant moms, and non pregnant moms, who had goals of nursing for a year and life would be grand! I praise women for having these goals but having a back up plan in a situation like this is a must. Especially if you have never experienced it. A false interpretation of a situation is shattering – you think you give birth to this precious angel, your baby latches on to your breast, sucking all the goodness out and you have a special bond for the rest of your life. Sadly in most cases, this is false and a lot harder to achieve.
So there I was, out of breath, emotions running wild and lying wide open for the room to see. Jordan was a minute old and he was laid on my chest for the first time – it was a moment I will never forget. Naturally, the nurses started showing me how to breast feed and the proper way for him to latch on. It felt surreal that I was actually breast feeding my own flesh and blood. I was doing it! I was a mom!
The first night in the hospital I didn’t breast feed as much as I normally would later on because he had a pretty bad case of jaundice. And the only way for it to go away was food. So the nurses started opening up little bottles of formula as I was not producing enough milk yet. When I did nurse I had plenty to give him and he was content and satisfied. As the hours passed and my supply had grown, I stopped feeding him bottles and strictly nursed. It was extremely hard and emotional. I still thought it was going to be perfect and everything was going to fit into place.
First problem: Jordan wouldn’t latch on. Some of the nurses said it was my nipples and some said it was the way he wanted to latch on. Either way, it was not going as planned. You see, I thought you just put him up to your breast and they will automatically start doing their thing. This is true for the most part, but there is an “art”, if you will, to latching your newborn on. They finally gave me a nipple shield which was a sanity saver! And a nipple saver! 😉
That brings me on to my Second problem: everyone had their own method. One nurse would show me how then an hour later someone else came in and said something completely different. It was frustrating and I was exhausted. I wasn’t even a mom for 24 hours and I already wanted to give up! “No“, I thought, “I must do this for Jordan. I must stay strong for his health.” I couldn’t even find my own way because they would come in to check on me and say something about it, showing me something new. Believe me, if all I had to worry about was nursing it would have been a piece of cake but I was still healing and being tended too as well. Information overload and too many emotions made my brain heavy and I was not able to concentrate.
Third problem: PAIN. Intense amount of pain. Pain that I didn’t know existed! Nipples are fragile pieces of flesh and when they are sucked and pulled on over and over, they become blistered, chapped and eventually raw. I can still remember the feeling and I cringe just thinking about it! (Think of needles going through your nipple! OUCH!) But remember that nipple shield I was talking about? So, the nurses told me to not use it unless I absolutely had to. Jordan would eventually become accustomed to the shape of the shield and not my actual nipple. But as I was yelling louder each and every time I had to feed him and the small drips of blood that eventually started to appear (over time), the shield looked more and more inviting. I started to use it every time I nursed. LIFE SAVER! And I know for a fact if it wasn’t for this I would have stopped. NO question about it.
So I was finally at home and able to fully concentrate on me and my baby. It ended up being a lot easier than my stay in the hospital and since I knew the basic concept I was able to adapt my own methods from trial and error. The best nursing helper was my Boppy pillow. I used it all of the time! It goes right around your waist and your child lays on it to eat. I was comfortable and he was comfortable. I was able to have my hands free to eat, drink, type and there were a few times I put my makeup on while nursing! Amazing, amazing invention and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone that is planning on breast feeding! Plus, he was able to use it just lounging around and it works great for tummy time, too.
Finally – I was able to relax and spend the quality time I needed and with my newborn baby. I had my own method, the pain was subsiding and I was finally starting to feel comfortable with the concept. Except one thing – outings. I was home for 3 days and I had not left the house. I guess I kind of forgot about this detail. Our first trip out was stressful. I had made sure he was fed but I really had no clue how much milk he was getting or how long it would last. I was still not coordinated with nursing in the privacy of my own home, let alone out in public. I brought a few formula bottles that the hospital gave me as a back up plan.
It’s scary, it really is. Either society is very encouraging of this public feeding or not. I see no shame in breastfeeding in public. They have plenty of cover ups and nursing tanks to make the situation easy for everyone. And babies have to eat when they want to eat. The have no concept in what time of day it is, where they are at or how convenient it is – when they want food they want it NOW.
After a few weeks I was really enjoying nursing. There were hard times still, especially in the middle of the night when all you wanted to do was sleep and all your baby wanted to do was nurse. I remember a rough week of getting up every single hour. I was completely miserable and drained. I was stubborn though and pushed through it, not letting Marc help with the feeding… because really there was no way he could.
I was not a fan of co-sleeping. You hear these horror stories of how parents 2 year olds are still sleeping with them in bed, throwing fits when they are placed in their own bed. I was making sure this was not happening to us! So from the very first night he was sleeping in his own crib. Until… I was not able to get any rest. NONE. Exhaustion is horrible. I was not able to think, all I did was cry all day and I was so bitter towards Marc that he was able to sleep at night.
I came to my senses and tried the one thing that I told my self I was not going to do – co sleep.
In case of accidental suffocation and squishing from a slumbering husband, Jordan and I snuggled in the spare bed one night – me laying on my side, Jordan attached to me sucking himself to sleep. It was a miracle! I was able to finally get some sleep! 5 hours worth, and believe me I needed it! I woke up a better person and a new look on co-sleeping. He and I did this for the next 3-4 weeks. I missed being near my husband but I was a much better wife during the day so it really evened everything out.
Just when I thought I had everything figured out something else happened – thrush. Thrush is an oral yeast bacteria that is most common in babies and breast feeding. Basically the thrush went through my nipple and I had bacteria in my breast tissue. This is completely harmless for the milk but every time he would latch on, a deep, aching pain traveled through my nipple and out towards my back. Not. Fun.
By that time, I had noticed a significant drop in my supply and I was only two months into my mommy hood. Diet, exercise and the amount of feeding all play a part in keeping your supply up. I wasn’t eating enough during the day to keep my calories up. Since I had gained quite a bit of weight during my pregnancy I was more than ready to start losing it. Nursing burns up to 500 calories a day and it’s recommended that you eat that much in return. It was actually very hard for me to eat that many calories in one day and still eat healthy.
It was then I decided that it was best for me and our family to stop breast feeding. I was VERY PROUD of myself for lasting as long as I did – through sleepless nights, latching problems, thrush and being tied down to the couch day after day.
And if you have read this this far (OH MY GOD – SO LONG!) then please take one thing away from this post – do what ever is best for you and your family. Do not let anyone tell you what is wrong or right because everyone experiences something different!
Phew! So sorry guys – I will try to make the other posts shorter but I felt I really needed to share all of this so you could understand the emotional roller coaster new moms go through. And this is just one topic!
I would love to answer any questions you may have! Stay tuned for the next edition of this Mommy Series!