Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Momma Babble V003

During my pregnancy, I remember telling many of my girlfriends that I was more nervous about breastfeeding than I was about actually giving birth. I wanted to breastfeed so badly, for the benefits for the baby, the bonding experience, and for the sake of saving some money (formula is expensive!).
This post is about my experience with breastfeeding thus far. If the topic makes you squeamish, go ahead and navigate away from this page :-) Don't worry - there are no boob photos, just a few funny cartoons. This post is not intended to spur debate on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, either. I just simply want to document my experience as a first time mommy, so that 1) I don't forget what these days are like! 2) I might be able to help/encourage someone else in their own experience as a breastfeeding mommy.
So, let's break the ice... shall we?
When Jesse was born, one of the first things the nurse said to me as she was cleaning him off and getting his measurements was, "Are you planning to breastfeed? I hope so - this boy has quite the suck!"
Jesse took to breastfeeding like a champ. It absolutely amazed me that he knew exactly what to do; I just needed to figure out things on my end. What position was going to work best? Would I need to use a nipple shield? Would I be able to get him to latch properly?
Thankfully, I had the help of some AMAZING nurses when I was in the hospital. Each one helped in their own way, with various suggestions. My first nurse had me using the nipple shield to help Jesse latch on, and she showed me how to do the football hold.
The football hold wasn't working the greatest with the nipple shield. I was trying to hold Jesse's head in one hand, hold the shield on my breast with the other hand, while also supporting my breast with that same hand. ....Yeah, it was a crazy juggling act. I was trying to do all of the above and get my baby to latch, and it just wasn't working the greatest when I didn't have the help of the nurse.
My next nurse was an older woman. She was helpful during my little breakdown that I mentioned in {{this}} post. She suggested that I try a different position with Jesse, but I just wasn't emotionally in a good place to focus and learn. Instead, she just supported me in a different way. She took my face in her hands and looked me in the eyes and said, "It's okay. It's going to get better. DO NOT GIVE UP! Let's give it a break and try again in an hour. You'll get this." She was so patient and encouraging. I needed that pep talk!
That night, my next nurse was a LIFESAVER. She worked with me for hours. She showed me that I didn't actually need the nipple shield. She also showed me how to nurse using the cross-cradle hold. When she showed me how to get Jesse to latch without the nipple shield, I couldn't believe how different it felt. He was "going to town," doing his thing... and it finally felt right. The lactation consultant came in to work with me the following day before we went home, and she agreed that I didn't need the shield and that the cross-cradle position was the best for us. She recommended that I didn't offer the baby a pacifier because he might become confused with the nipple.
...And let's take a break. Time for another cartoon:
 When we got home from the hospital, Jesse continued to do great with breastfeeding. At night time, he had a few nights where he would nurse and then wouldn't want to be put back down to bed. He'd fuss, wanting to suck some more. At 2:00am on one of those long, fussy, "I only want to suck on my Mommy" nights, I went rummaging through the baby's closet to find the pacifiers that had been given to me at my shower. I had the lactation nurse's voice in one ear saying, "Don't do it..." and then I had the voice of reason (AKA my mom) in the other ear saying, "Give him a binky. Some babies just need to suck. It will help soothe him." So what did I do? I listened to my mother, of course :-) I found those pacifiers, washed them, gave one to Jesse... and it satisfied him. He happily sucked away on his binky while I *finally* got some rest. Having the pacifier hasn't "confused" Jesse at all. He still does great with the breastfeeding. If he doesn't have his binky, he starts to suck on his hands. My worry is that he will want to start to suck his thumb. I'd rather he had a binky than deal with the potential ramifications of thumb sucking, but that's just me.
There have been a few fussy nights here and there, where Jesse just wants to nurse, nurse, nurse. Usually these nights fall within a growth spurt. He gets mad - turns red, pulls his head back (while he's still latched... ouch), and starts to cry. It's like he's not getting enough from me. I went online after a few frustrating nights of this behavior, wondering if I should give him a bottle during these fussy nights to help calm him down. Everything I read, though, said "Absolutely not." Your body will produce more milk if it's stimulated to do so - so, unless the baby is nursing/sucking, your body will not produce more milk to meet his demands. Eventually my body caught up with what he wanted/needed. I'm glad I didn't resort to the bottle!
I do pump every day and store between 1-3 three ounce servings in the freezer. I'm building up my stock pile for when I go back to work. It's also nice to have a bottle for my hubby to feed the baby occasionally, as well as to be able to go away for a few hours at a time. At first we were using Tommee Tippee bottles, however Jesse was really gassy after he would feed from one of those bottles. So, I switched to the Playtex drop-ins and he does MUCH better with these. No problems at all!
My current stock pile...right next to the sweet potato fries, LOL
The great thing about breastfeeding is that you don't have to do a lot of extra prep to get out the door with the baby. As long as I have my nursing cover, I'm okay to breastfeed where ever we go. Some places have special rooms for nursing mothers - which is really nice. Other times, I'm crawling into the back seat to feed the baby when leaving a store. I'm comfortable nursing in public with my nursing cover, but I know it makes some people uncomfortable so I try to find a private place to breastfeed.

I'm so relieved that breastfeeding is going well for us. How much longer will I breastfeed? As long as I can. I know it will get tricky when I go back to work, but we will see what happens. I'm so glad I didn't give up when it was difficult in the beginning. :-)

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