On breastfeeding

12 Aug

I love nursing.  It was a rough start for me and MM.  She had a crummy latch and the hospital lactation consultant wasn’t very helpful.  But I was determined – we WERE going to make this work. 

We stayed at the hospital for 48 hours or whatever until we were discharged.  Within two days of getting home my nipples were a bruised, bleeding mess and I was dreading every single time she wanted to nurse.  My milk still wasn’t in. 

Our pediatrician has an in-house lactation consultant.  My husband made us an appointment as I sobbed my heart out.  She saw us (all three of us) first thing the next morning.  She told me was to ditch the boppy.  It wasn’t a good fit for me.  She got me hooked up with My Brest Friend (cheesy name but a total lifesaver!) and it made a world of a difference. 

My milk was starting to come in that morning though I wasn’t feeling the painful engorgement that I had heard about.  The LC recommended a nipple shield to give my poor nips a chance to heal – I knew of the perils of nipple shields but given the amount of pain I was in and my determination to be successful I gave it a try. 

And of course, MM became a nipple shield addict. 

For three freaking months I attempted to wean her from those things.  Fortunately, she never had weight gain issues so it was just inconvenient as opposed to troublesome.  Every time I tried to ditch them she’d wail her heart out.  Until one day she didn’t and that was it.  That’s pretty much been a constant in her life. 

We continued our nursing relationship until she was 18 months old and I was 20 weeks pregnant.  I hadn’t decided one way or the other about tandem nursing.  After a lot of angst I decided to not decide and just let her lead the way.  We were out of town visiting my parents and I nursed her to sleep praying that she would make it through the trip so I could nurse her down for a nap on the plane home (she did).  She nursed one more time at home in our rocker and that was it.  She never asked for it again.

MC was born at a local freestanding birth center.  Dude latched on right away without any trouble.  We just made it to the other side of a nursing semi-strike where he wouldn’t nurse anywhere unless we were side lying, it was dark and it was quiet.  Well, with a 2.5 year old girl in the house those opportunities were few and far between.  I was honestly afraid that he would quit altogether but he’s doing just fine now.

When MC was roughly 4 days old MM told me she wanted some “baby milk”.  I was flabbergasted and honestly taken aback.  I said sure and offered her a breast.  She got pretty close (I’m sure I was cringing) and then pulled back and made a toddler version of a joke about it being baby milk.  I’m not going to lie – I was relieved.  

All of that was to show that I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding.  I think every woman owes it to her baby to educate herself and give it her best effort.  There are those women out there that can’t.  They’ve tried their hardest and for whatever reason it just isn’t working.  Maybe they need to get back on their heart medication and that’s not compatible with nursing.  Maybe they’re teachers and they have to return to work and they don’t have anyone to cover their classroom while they pump.  Who knows?  Until you’ve walked a step in their shoes you don’t know their situation.  EVERY MOTHER (well, MOST mothers anyway) wants to do the best they can for their babies.  That’s what moms do. 

Formula was invented for those mothers that can’t make nursing work.  There shouldn’t be guilt involved but of course there is.  I’ve tried to make the best decisions for my family and knowing that I’m doing everything I can I still feel guilty about 100 different things.  We’re human, we’re not perfect and yet we expect to be.   

I’m working hard to stop being so judgemental about the decisions other mothers have made.  I’ll admit to judginess surrounding c-sections, formula feeding and other parenting choices.  It’s not fair – I don’t know everyone’s stories.  I’ve been judged for the choices I’ve made – returning to work and putting my kids into part-time daycare especially.  It stings, especially since I’m not always confident in the decision I made.  And there aren’t campaigns, billboards and flashmobs (wish I was there instead of on an airplane with two kids and no husband) touting the advantages of staying at home with the kids. 

I still think it’s important to normalize nursing and educate the masses on why breast is best but I’m committed to doing so in a compassionate, thoughtful  manner.

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