I recently discovered the blog 5 Minutes for Mom. Loving it, definitely on my Bloglines (which by the way makes it so much easier for me to read my blogs, even given Firefox’s fabulous “open all tabs” feature in the Bookmarks. As soon as I figure out how to add a link I’ll put it there on the side so you can see what I read. Since I know you care SO MUCH). This entry has inspired me to write some on it.
Celebrating Breastfeeding: for World Breastfeeding Week 2006, Aug 1-7
Did you nurse your baby(s) and for how long?
I nursed both my babies, and certainly plan to in the future. The Pandagirl weaned with just the slightest bit of help (i.e. she was down to only twice a day anyway, waking up and naptime, so Daddy just got her up and fed her solids right away, and the same at naptime) at about 13 months; Bambam held on a bit longer and needed more coaxing — he just weaned in June, at 18 months.
Did you ever get bitten?
Oh yeah, not that often, but it’s going to happen now and then. People wince hard at this idea, which is understandable, and I’m sure it could be an issue for some, but honestly, two things. First of all, when the baby is actually latched on well and actively nursing, they pretty much can’t bite you, so if they do, it means s/he is done and just playing around now. Secondly, when you’ve been nursing every two hours around the clock, once you get the hang of it, your nipples are going to be so tough that it probably won’t phase you THAT badly. Not that it doesn’t hurt, but it’s different than when you’re not nursing, y’know? (Like rhino hide, I read it described once, teehee.)
What was your favourite aspect of nursing?
It was great feeling like I was needed – looking at the fat little thighs of my six month old and knowing, that’s because of me. Also the comfort: knowing I could help them feel better in almost any circumstance, and just getting all cuddly on a regular basis. (Also, very easy. Never had to worry about forgetting the bottle or whatever.)
What was the hardest part of weaning?
Giving up that feeling of indispensability was a little hard, knowing your baby’s growing up. Mostly though — I’m lazy and it meant I had to actually make food for the baby instead of just whipping it out every time he was hungry, which was way easier.
Do you have any advice to share with moms about nursing and/or weaning?
All this is, of course, just according to my experience. I was fortunate enough not to have to work, especially while they were newborns, so I never messed much with pumping.
**It gets easier. Especially with subsequent children. (It helped me that my 2nd child had a larger mouth than the first, even as a newborn.)
**Drink lots and lots of water. Buy a water sport jug and keep it filled constantly, and drink every time you nurse.
**Don’t freak out that you’re not making enough milk. I think sometimes people worry about that too early. (And try not to use nipple shields, lots of times they inhibit milk production.)
**In conjunction with the above, nurse often. Which, at first, yes, pretty much means constantly. Even just every two hours (from start of feeding to start of feeding) is a lot, but do it more if you need to. Learn to read with one hand, or rent some movies. For nights, at least at first, don’t be afraid to try bringing the baby into bed, being as safe as possible, of course. (Maybe one of those adjustable height or latch on bassinettes.)
**One word: LANSINOH. It’s so awesome, especially if you have any kind of cracked nipple like I did with my first, my daughter. (That was so terrible. I would cry every time she would latch on: she would suck off the scab and it felt almost like things were being sawn off. The day felt eternally long, with the feedings every two hours, and I had to fight to keep my ducts clear. Pumping that side did help some. Finally, after a couple of weeks–I have no idea how long it actually was, it felt like FOR EV ER, I’d have to look it up–my dh bought me some Lansinoh and things were immediately SO much better. So have it on hand, people. Don’t suffer needlessly.)
**This is more of an issue for some than others but: try to get over any embarassment you may feel. At first you won’t be comfortable with even trying to nurse in semi-public, mostly because you’ll still be getting it all down, how to get the baby latched on, how to get comfortable yourself, but eventually you will, and it’s all right. I don’t think people need to just let it all hang out, so to speak, BUT I really don’t think that anyone needs to go hide in the bathroom or whatever either. Because (ready for this?): WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE FOR? Let me tell you: they are for feeding your babies. All other uses are just an extra bonus, which I appreciate, but our society is so screwed up; their real purpose is to feed your babies. The end. That’s it.
So if you need to ask for help, from a lactation consultant, or even better, another nursing mother, please do it, don’t be shy. If breastfeeding were more widespread in the first place I don’t think people would have nearly as much trouble with it, because they’d have some observed experience already. Not to mention I think some of the trouble comes from stress, because women feel like they don’t know what they’re doing, and are embarassed about the learning part. Please don’t be. It really is the best thing for the baby, nutritionally, and I think it’s good for us moms too.
**But let me also say, as part of the stress thing, don’t guilt trip yourself too hard. Yes, I totally nursed both my kids, but I have some very dear friends who ended up switching to formula and felt so BAD about it all. To which I say–formula has come a long way since the 50s and so forth, even if breastmilk is still better. Basically: try to go a little easy on yourself. If you’re having trouble with the nursing and have to supplement a little bit, don’t flog yourself over it. Also, don’t give up on the nursing right away either. The reason “breastfeeding nazis” are so down on supplementing is that, especially at first, you really do need to nurse a LOT to build up your milk production. I think sometimes people feel, if they’ve given the baby even one bottle, maybe under nurse or doctor pressure (a main thing for me in picking a pediatrician was one who was supportive of breastfeeding), that that’s it, they may as well give up. It’s alright, keep trying if you can, don’t just let it go. At the end of the day, do your best, make your decision, and let yourself off the hook.
I hope that soon we’ll see even more support for breastfeeding out there, in the medical world, at work, wherever it might be needed. I wouldn’t want to have missed the experience for anything.
ETA: Here and here are blog posts about a recent breastfeeding related controversy. I love the comments and so forth on it. AND I’m going to add a photo, too; of course I took some photos. As a scrapbooker, how could I possibly justify NOT taking a photo of something I spent SO MUCH TIME doing?