Friday, August 8, 2014 story

There was never a question for me when it came to breastfeeding my babies. I knew I was going to breastfeed even before my kids were conceived.  I would see mothers covering up to breastfeed out in public and thought, "rock on stranger!"  Everyone always made it look so easy, and truly, if it's what we are made to do it can't be that hard right?  Boy was that a lie. 
 Here's the thing...when I was pregnant with my first baby, all I ever heard about was childbirth.  Everyone would go on and on about how painful it was, how tiring it is, and how they HATED it.  But no one EVER talked about breastfeeding! So, when it came time to breastfeed my first thought was how wonderful it will be.  And to be honest, the FIRST time is nothing compared to what happens next!

So here I am, on National Breastfeeding Week, to talk about the ins and outs of breastfeeding. It's the natural thing to do and yet so many women out there know nothing about it! 

My story starts with, of course, my first child.  I was prepared beyond what any first time mother should be when it came to child birth.  I had taken Hypnobirthing classes months before I needed to so that I could practice all the techniques.  Little did I know I would need to get induced after being a week late and in labor with contractions 4 minutes a part and not dilating.  Labor didn't go how I wanted it to go, but it was perfect in the end.  My little baby girl was born a whopping 8 pounds 5 ounces and was so perfect!  They placed her up on my chest while they cleaned her up and the first thing I did was stick her on my boob.  I was on such a natural high that I didn't feel anything!  I was just so in love with my little girl.  

 A few hours later, it was feeding time again.  My baby was fussy for the first time since being born and I pulled open my gown and stuck her on.  OUCH!!!!  What the heck was going on?  I pulled her off and repositioned her.  OUCH!!!!  Am I doing something wrong?  My mom came to my side to try and help.  It's amazing to me that when you're trying to feed your baby, all modesty goes out the window.  There I was on my hospital bed with my gown down to my waist, both boobs exposed, trying to get my nipple in my baby's mouth the right way.  Motherhood is so glamorous!  My sweet little baby was hungry and all I wanted to do was give her what she wanted, but keep myself from hurting.  I had heard over and over from book to book I had read before my baby was born that, 'nursing shouldn't hurt, and if it is hurting, your doing something wrong.' Well, I was in pain, and no matter what I did, nursing hurt!  The next day I had the lactation specialist come in and watch how I was nursing.  With her help I was able to get my baby to nurse correctly...but it still hurt.  So, she stuck her finger in my baby's mouth and came to a conclusion.  Baby girl was a chomper.  Instead of sucking like a normal baby, she chewed when she ate, therefore, hacking away at my nipple.  Devastating news for a new mommy in pain, but she reassured me that if I stuck with it, my little girl would get the hang of it and start to suck instead of chew.  Sure enough, she was right!  A few days after my little one was born my milk finally came in and thus began the sucking!!! Yay!!! 

Now, I'm not saying that once my milk came in that the pain went away.  Oh no, the pain lasted a good 3-4 weeks before I was able to nurse without my toes curling in pain.  Nursing became a wonderful experience for me.  I looked forward to holding my little girl and having one on one time with her.  I loved how she looked up at me and would smile.  I was able to take a crying, hungry baby and make her happy.  Then, around 4 months old, my little girl went on strike. 

My husband and I decided to go on a vacation to Washington DC and then to New York City.  With our baby in tow, all was good.  She was fine on the plane, and did well traveling, but she wanted NOTHING to do with nursing!  I tried everything from distracting her with the TV to getting my milk to come in before I began to nurse her.  She just wasn't having it, and with the fact that we were traveling, I didn't bring my pump!  So, I had no other choice than to wean her.  I was devastated!!!!  I honestly would cry about not being able to nurse her.  Of course I was still able to hold her while I fed her but the bonding that I so enjoyed while nursing was done.  The switch to the bottle was easy and I never really had pain with weaning because it was gradually done. 

When my second little girl was born, I figured since I was a pro at nursing that it should be no problem to remember the drill.  Again, I was wrong.  She was a tiny little girl, and with that came a tiny little mouth.  She couldn't open her mouth big enough to suck on anything but my nipple, and for those of you who don't know about nursing, that's a BIG no no!!  The baby should be sucking on part of your areola too, and my poor little tiny girl just couldn't do it.  Even the nipple shields were too big, so, I stuck through it and dealt with the pain.  Once again it took 3-4 weeks to nurse comfortably, and was well worth the wait.  I nursed my second baby for 6 months and we lasted through a nursing strike too.  Luckily I was home and was able to pump while she was on strike.  It's sounds silly, but those few days she wanted nothing to do with me were some of the hardest days.  I debated stopping breastfeeding and then would come to my senses and stick it out.  Her nursing strike only lasted 3 days and then like a fly to light she was nursing again. 
All in all my nursing experiences were very different from each other.  I would never say I'm a pro but from what I went through, I learned a lot.  Not just about nursing, but about my self and my babies.  So, here are a few tips and tricks that I learned about breastfeeding that really helped me!  Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I'll do my best to answer!
  • ALWAYS have the lactation specialist in your hospital come help you!  Even with my second child I had the specialist visit my room.  Sometimes it costs extra, as some insurances don't cover it, but it's worth every penny to have someone there who's an expert.
  • Your own milk is your best friend.  After my second baby, my nipples scabbed like crazy and I had tried over and over again to heal them with lanolin.  That never worked!!!  What did work was air and breast milk!  After nursing I would express a little bit of milk and dab it all around my nipple and areola and then let it dry.  With in a few days my ouchies were healed and nursing became more comfortable.
  • When your milk first comes in you'll get engorged!  Seriously my boobs were gigantic!  They were also as hard as rocks and I was so uncomfortable.  Massage your breasts while your baby is nursing to loosen your milk ducts and to prevent clogged ducts from happening.  If you are still uncomfortable after your baby is done nursing, continue to express your milk, either by hand or pump, until it's comfortable.  Do not empty your breasts completely.  This will only send your body the message to continue to make that much milk the next time. 
  • Invest in a good pump.  I first began using the Medela brand breast pump and I hated it.  I felt like it sucked my nipples way to much to the point where the were raw.  I really loved the Dr. Brown's Electric Breast Pump.  It felt like I was nursing when I used it.  It never caused any discomfort!!  It did take a little bit longer to pump, but that's the only pump I recommend.  It's amazing!
  • Lansinoh Breast Pads are the best ones out there!  They are a bit more expensive, but I've tried almost every brand and this one never failed! 
  • The best breastfeeding book is The Nursing Mother's Companion-6th addition.  Any question I ever had about nursing was in that book.  It helped me feel at ease anytime I was stressing about something not going right. 
I hope this was helpful to anyone out there struggling with nursing.  You are not alone!!  Nursing is hard, but it's also one of the most rewarding experiences.  To those of you who are reading who weren't able to nurse or chose not to nurse.  I hope none of you feel as though I have criticized you.  Nursing is a personal decision and no one should judge you because of  the that.  Our babies don't love their mother's more or less depending on whether we nursed them or not.  They love us because we love them!!  Happy Breastfeeding Week!!!

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