Friday, August 6, 2010
Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
After 20 hours of an excruciatingly painful drug-free labor and delivery of my beautiful little son, it was time to nurse him. I remember feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and all I really wanted to do at that moment was to eat my sandwich while the doctor sewed me up. I put him to my breast and he instinctually began to suckle just as I had imagined. It was amazing to see such a small being know exactly what to do. It was the most comforting thing I had ever experienced, especially after labor. This is my reward I thought, this perfect little baby is being nourished and nurtured by my body. We were made for each other. It seemed easy enough at first. Sure there were some positioning techniques that I had to learn and luckily my attentive husband listened carefully to our lactation consultant while I just starred deliriously into my little angels eyes...
We decided to take the nurse on demand approach because it seemed like the most natural thing to do. After all, I know that I get hungry at different times of the day and it would sure be hard if I could only eat at certain times on a strict schedule. So it made sense to feed my baby whenever he needed it. Breast milk digests fast too so it is needed more frequently.
Breastfeeding in the hospital came very naturally for me and whenever I had a question all I had to do was beep the nurse and she would be right at my side reassuring me. "This is easy," I remember thinking as I ate my strawberry frozen yogurt while nursing Aiden at the same time. "I don't know what all the fuss is about."
Then, we went home and everything changed. On day two of Aiden being home, we had a home visit from the nurse and it was determined that he had lost one pound and he wasn't urinating enough because at this point the colostrum wasn't enough and my milk still hadn't come in. She advised us to use formula supplements until my milk arrived. This was very scary for us at the time and I felt like I had already failed as a mother!!!! How had I not known that he wasn't getting enough to eat?! I was mortified and loss some confidence in my abilities that day. That night my milk came in and then I was engorged beyond my imagination. I never even knew my boobs could get that big. I looked like one of those trashy women with a double D boob job! My sister and I laughed and took pictures of them. They were hard as rocks and hurt like crazy. I couldn't even sleep on them, it was insane. My milk had arrived and Aiden was about to get all the milk he could ever desire.
For the next day or so, I felt like we were on our way becoming successful at nursing. There was minimal soreness which I remedied with Lansinoh nipple cream and Aiden gained his one pound back. Everyone was happy. Then my nipples cracked and started bleeding. So I decided to pump and it only made it worse. (Too hard of a suction on those pumping machines) Tears flowed as I discovered the milk I was working so hard to pump for my hungry baby was tinted pink with blood. My nipples were raw, red, cracked and bleeding but for some reason I did NOT want to give up. I REALLY wanted to nurse my baby. I knew he needed this from me and it was one of the best things I could give him right now. Almost every nursing session was extremely painful and there were so many times I said that this would be the last time and that I was DONE! A couple weeks later I was on the phone with a lactation consultant who wanted to charge me $100 to come out to my house and help me. I could not afford to pay that so I begged her to give me some advice over the phone. She told me that the pain would eventually go away in time. I asked her how long because it had already been a month of painful nursing sessions and it was making it very hard for me to enjoy nursing my son. I was doing it out of obligation, not because I was enjoying it. She said that a month was a long time for the soreness to continue and that maybe he was latched incorrectly. She said that I should watch some videos on You Tube about correct latching. And then she said, "Whatever you do just don't give up. Your baby NEEDS this from YOU." I thought about that statement for a long time that day. I thought about it when I wanted to scream in pain while he was nursing.
A month later, we were in the car on our way up to our annual Lake Tahoe vacation and I had an epiphany: nursing Aiden no longer hurt! I told my husband, "Hey! I just realized that it doesn't hurt anymore when we're nursing!!! I can't BELIEVE it took TWO MONTHS to get to this point!!!" He too was very happy about the news and said, "Maybe breastfeeding is designed that way, to be a challenge at first so that you grow a deep respect and appreciation for it later on." I decided my husband is a genius. I had never thought of it that way but it is so true. From what I went through to get to this point of actually enjoying nursing my son, it will be a long time before we stop, or until Aiden decides for himself that he is done. Our bond had been strengthened immensely and it can't be denied that the struggle to get to this point played a big part in that. He was most definitely worth learning this process for and I am so glad I exercised my stubborn-ness and stuck with it!
This week Aiden turned 16 months old and he is still an avid nurser, two times a day. We've nursed in the car, on an airplane, on a boat, on a mountain, in the middle of the mall, in church, at restaurants, under a tree, in a pool, in bed, on a hike and at a concert. I am happy to nurse him anytime and anywhere that he wishes. I love our special time snuggling, bonding and loving each other.
Here are the only breastfeeding links you'll ever need :)
And one amazing article that re-affirms why, (if your body is able) you should breastfeed!
And one more amazing mother's tale of why we hope to create a better "normalization" of breastfeeding in public!