Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Breastfeeding Story

I've never really posted about breastfeeding much on my blog, even though it's such a big part of who I am. Before I had Jackson I knew I was going to breastfeed. I come from a long line of women who nursed and I was determined to carry on the tradition. I heard plenty of horror stories about how hard it was, how much it would hurt, how I would never have my body back blah blah blah. Hearing all of that was good in a way because it prepared me for some of the difficulties I would face and made me even more determined to make it work. I asked everyone I knew for advice- my doctor, fellow teachers, the lady with a baby in line next to me (just kidding), but it seemed like most people only nursed for a few months and called it quits. Of course I HAD to make it the full year (that's just how I roll).

I'm going to be honest, at first breastfeeding sucked. Big time. There was lots of pain and lots of tears. But the best advice I received (from my wonderful doctor) was to give it at least 3 weeks. After that the pain should subside and we would be able to fall into a sort of rhythm. And sure enough, she was right. That's not to say that I didn't panic when my nipples bled or grit my teeth from the pain. But I persevered and made it work.

I'm not quite sure why I refused to give up on breastfeeding. Maybe because I know "Breast is best" or because it's such a bonding experience. Either way I'm glad we've made it this far. My original goal was to make it 6 months and when that mark came and went I made the goal 12 months. Now that we're almost there I'm willing to go beyond 12 months as long as Jackson wants to. Which isn't to say I don't get weird looks and little comments. Hello! The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years! Why is is it so strange that I'm willing to nurse him longer than a year? I feel like it's almost a badge of honor that I've made it this far! (and I do NOT judge women who don't nurse their babies. EVER.)

Here's my advice for making it work. First, give it a minimum of 3 weeks for the pain to go away. Yeah, I know it's not supposed to hurt when your baby latches but I want to know whose boobie wouldn't hurt if they had a baby with the suction power of a Hoover attached to their breast 24/7? Yeah, that's what I thought. Also, you MUST get the number/email of a good lactation consultant and have it available at all times. If you're like me you'll be emailing them ALL the time with "my baby won't latch, my nipples are bleeding, I have thrush." Trust me, if you don't have a good lactation consultant you won't make it long. Usually your hospital has one in-house (which was my case) who is amazing and the hospital may even offer free breastfeeding support groups. GO to these! They are incredibly helpful and you'll meet a whole bunch of amazing women who are going through the same things as you. I formed such tight friendships with the women in my class!

If you plan on returning to work invest in a good (i.e. expensive) breast pump. The cheap ones do NOT work. Also do yourself a favor and buy a hands-free pumping bra. It will keep you pumping longer and leave you free to do things like check emails. You can get one at Buy, Buy Baby for around $30.

I think the most important thing to know is that breastfeeding DOES get easier. It starts out soooo hard and ends up being such a great bonding experience, but it takes time to get there. Be patient, get a good lactation consultant, and don't give up! I feel like breastfeeding was (and still is) one of the most important things I did for Jackson!


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11 comments:

Jillanne said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Christy! Shhhh...don't tell, but Claire is still nursing at 18 months. :) She HATES cow milk. We just went to her pediatrician this week and she is doing wonderfully healthwise and is hitting many milestones early. It is so worth it.

The Adventures of a Blondie Mommie said...

Oh I'm so glad to hear that other people go longer than a year! SO many people look at me so weird or make mean little comments when I tell them I'm going to nurse as long as possible. I agree that it's so worth it!

Ashley said...

My daughter just turned 1 and is still nursing 4x a day. I have no clue how to wean her, she won't take milk. So looks like we are going past a year too!

B. Wilson said...

I am also determined. I hear horror stories and know I may be crying daily (maybe multiple times) for the first few weeks... but I want this.

I am due in December. Thanks so much for your words. They helped! I'll remember them when I'm crying around Christmas! Hah!

Becky said...

That's awesome, Christy! Breastfeeding was something that I never accomplished. I'm a big old wimp and I gave up. I never did get a lot of help, and I just didn't get the hang of it.

And for what it's worth, I know a lot of people who go over a year. I say if you can do it, and you and your baby are happy, go for it!

Scatterbrain K said...

I was the same...oh Ill go until a year...and then I was thinking that I cant just stop breastfeeding! It isnt like he will turn 1 and magically be off the boob! As long as Jay is up for it, I am too! Now if I could only take away the weird looks I used to give friends who breastfed after their child could walk...I had no idea!

The Adventures of a Blondie Mommie said...

Thanks for all these great comments! Totally makes me feel better about going longer than a year when I know a lot of other people do it too!

MonieHood said...

Christy, you are such a good mommy! Liam is still nursing (14 months) and is showing no signs that he is ready to stop. He hates cow milk but loves soy, so during the day I give him soy! Now, he tries to get into my shirt when he wants to nurse! Breast is best and our baby doc (Dr.Sudha) is a HUGE teacher for La Leche International says keep going. I do get odd remarks from people but I could care less.

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teresaashfeld said...

Great story Christy - I started formula at at 8 months and have trained my body to only nurse my 9 1/2 month old twice a day but I would not give it up for the world, and don't plan on quitting this anytime soon. I just kept an open mind to it and it seemed like it worked for us. You go girl!

Mandy said...

Great advise! I didn't like nursing much the first few weeks but was also DETERMINED to breastfeed. And I'm SO glad that I stuck with it. It is best for my son, and I'm happy we've stuck with it for these 9 months. He's started to wean himself and that is actually making me sad... I don't wanna stop yet!

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