Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adventures in Breastfeeding

So I may have misspoken, or mistyped in an earlier post, on the note of breastfeeding being easier. My intent was to say that just nursing Emma was easier than pumping and feeding her breast milk with a bottle. I have never (successfully) fed my babies formula, but I would imagine it would be easier than dealing with all the breastfeeding issues. One sister-in-law’s statement on breastfeeding is “just because you have the equipment doesn’t mean you know what to do with it.” And I would have to agree, at least for myself. It was HARD to master breastfeeding. It took a lot of effort and a big support system to do it.

I know that I would have given up at the beginning with Michael if it hadn’t been for the support system I had. My midwife was awesome in teaching me how to nurse, and then continuing to check on my nursing during her many follow-up home visits. I also had two sister-in-laws who rooted for me the entire time, telling me that I could do it. And when things got tough (gall bladder surgery, and then bone tumor surgery) I had many female relatives coming over to help, some even spending the night to get Michael to me so I could nurse him. My philosophy was to set a goal and just try to make it there, knowing that some breastfeeding was better than none. First it was 2 weeks, if I could only make it 2 weeks. But when I got there and I said “I’ve made it this far, I can go further.” So it went to 1 month, then 2 months, then 4 months. By that time Michael refused formula (I had sudden surgery and there was not enough stored milk) so luckily a sister-in-law nursed him once while I was in surgery, and then I just had to keep nursing to feed my baby. At one year I thought, this isn’t bad I can do another year. My goal was to breastfeed Michael up till he was 2 years old. I know many would disagree with that. But I felt that I wanted to do all I could to give him any advantages. At 6 months he was sleeping through the night, yeah! And at one year I would only nurse him at home. But when he turned 18 months I became pregnant and had to stop, I couldn’t do it any more. I know really the best benefits are from birth to one, but those extra 6 months of nursing were wonderful. I loved the snuggle time it gave us. It was our special time to connect.

As for Emma, nursing started off wonderfully, and the only complaint I have is the frequency, but that too is getting better as we introduce solid foods. I just hope that I can repeat with Emma the wonderful snuggle time I had with Michael breastfeeding.

So for those out there struggling with breastfeeding, know that you can do it! Just surround yourself with a good support system and do your best, knowing that any breastfeeding is better than none.

And a note for those not able to breastfeed, this wasn't meant to make anyone feel guilty (us mothers feel guilty over enough things as it is) we all do our best, and thank goodness there is formula for us when we need it.


Brown Family said...

I will add that those who EMOTIONALLY can't breastfeed shouldn't feel guilty either. Yes, breast is best, but on a 1-10 scale, formula is now a 9, so there really isn't too much to feel "guilty" about.

Just think of this: You can't look at kids, teens or adults and "tell" which ones were breastfed.

And I'll also add that you can snuggle w/your baby with a bottle, too. I don't know why people say that using a bottle is not bonding w/your baby. (I didn't find breastfeeding any more bonding that using a bottle.) And for that matter, you can snuggle even when you're not feeding them. In fact, I find the best bonding time to be playing time, not feeding time.

You know what annoys me most about these discussions about breastfeeding? All the experts say breast OR formula. Why not both for those who so chose? I don't believe in nipple confusion (I think it's more laziness that babies will overcome when they're hungry), and I believe if you introduce anything early enough kids will accept it.

Just another two cents, which is probably worth about that much. :)

Andrea said...

I'm so glad that you stuck it out (especially in those hard time) and that you were able to breastfeed Michael that long. Good for you!! That's great. I pumped/breastfeed Allen for only 2.5 months and I couldn't do it anymore. My blood sugars were going crazy so I needed to get back on my medication to help, but I couldn't feed him while taking that medication. Plus, with my health condition I had a very low milk supply that wasn't increasing no matter what I did.... so I was very thankful for formula. It worked out fine, but I wished I could have just breastfeed. It would have been MUCH more easier than using the bottle.

Bethany said...

Thanks for writing this Christina. I agree that nursing after one is a luxury--I loved that routine with Nathanael. I hope our second baby enjoys it as much as he seemed to.

And thank you as well for all your wisdom about balance and gratitude for formula and letting go of judging ourselves (and each other).

We all need more love and less judgment (even the babies)!

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