As a child, I don't remember planning my "dream wedding," naming my future children, or even planning my career (except for my original plan to be a dancing crayon factory worker). I do, however, remember my plans to bottle feed. Looking back...this seems really bizarre. I didn't think much of the topic again until I got pregnant. Charlie, being a nurse, gently encouraged me to consider it. I did a little research. The overwhelming theme? Breast is best! I agreed to give it a try. NO promises. If I hate this, I'm done.
I have two sisters who both breastfed, and several close friends. When they would nurse around me, I made a careful effort to avoid looking at the baby eating. I found myself having conversations I wasn't even paying attention to due to my avoidance of eye contact. Side note...I am NOT someone that typically feels uncomfortable. So why the awkwardness around breastfeeding mothers? Somewhere along the lines...our society taught me to feel this way. I'm convinced of this!
After hearing horror stories of bleeding nipples, pain like no other from engorgement, and babies biting...I was not overly excited about it. When the nurse handed me this little stranger and told me to "go ahead and feed him," I didn't know what to think. Ummm...shouldn't we get to know each other or something first? I was blessed to have a baby that the nurse described as a "natural." Lucky for me...because I'm not sure I could have hung in there if it had gone badly. Due to what I believe was a result of a good "latch," I had very little soreness. I decided I could do this for at least a week.
Then came the realization that if I wanted to maintain some sort of life, I would have to get used to breastfeeding in public. Not being super efficient at nursing in the comfort of my own home, it was a bit of a disaster to try and get him latched on while desperately trying to hide myself under a blanket. J has always liked to look around...and he was not a happy camper about having a blanket over his face. I probably wouldn't like something over my head at the supper table, either.
A couple of months into it, I decided I am SO over hiding in public. It's ridiculous. I am doing what is best for my baby in a natural way. I got all fired up about "letting it all hang out" only to find myself putting a cover over us that night at a restaurant. It's intimidating, I tell you! Even with a cover, it's shocking to find how many people are very obviously uncomfortable and/or irritated.
We have now been going strong for 5 months, and I would love to make it to a year. My current goal is 6 months, though...I need to set small goals for myself or I get overwhelmed. I am extremely happy with my decision to breastfeed, and I'm proud of it. I have turned from slightly against it.... to a skeptic... to an activist. For us, breast really is best. Now to convince the rest of society.
A few tips to have a successful/enjoyable experience:
- DO make the decision based on what is best for you and your peanut, not based on pressure
-DO be open-minded about your options
-DO set small goals (one day? one week? one month?)
-DON'T go into it with the "I'm doing this for a year" attitude...that puts too much pressure on you
-DO be prepared for slight discomfort (comfort gel pads, Lansinoh cream)
-DO ask for help from a lactation consultant. Yes...it's weird. Also amazing. Even if you think it's going well, have them check for a proper latch. This will save you a world of discomfort and frustration!
-DO try to relax, even when you're feeling frustrated
-DO express a little milk, rub it on your nipples, and let it air dry to ease the pain at first
-DO educate yourself about breastfeeding
-DO invest in a pump...this will allow others to help and let you get a little more sleep (many insurance companies will cover the cost of a pump with a doctor's order)
-DON'T give up right away...most things don't come naturally, even something that is supposed to be "natural."
-DO keep yourself hydrated while breastfeeding
-DO take a hot shower and express a bit of milk if feeling engorged
Click HERE for great articles, FAQs, and tips from Dr. Sears regarding breastfeeding!