a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with Calvin I never gave much thought as to how I would feed my baby besides taking one breastfeeding class at the hospital. I figured I would either nurse or give him a bottle and that was that. Fast forward to having 3 baby boys, two rounds of postpartum depression and having nursed all of them I am here to tell you my love /hate relationship with breastfeeding.

The Love

-Let's state the obvious, it is FREE!

-There are no bottles to wash. I can feed my baby without having to clean or prepare anything which makes those long days and nights super easy and convenient

-It helps you burn calories and lose baby weight faster

-I love the way I feel connected to my baby when I am nursing, it is a relaxing and there is a indescribable feeling you get  once you both get the hang of it.

-You can go anywhere and have your baby's food supply on hand ;)

-Breastfeeding is an easy way to soothe a cranky baby and also is a sweet bonding time

-Once baby is 3 months old nursing sessions are super quick 

-There are many nutritional benefits for mom and baby

The Hate

-All of my babies refused the bottle (minus Leo for a few weeks)

-I legitimately always wondered who would nurse my baby for me if I was to ever die

-I cannot be away from my baby too long if it is close to feeding time

-I need to think ahead of where and when you will nurse in public and find a cover that is not too hot for both you and baby

-I feel an overwhelming amount of pressure because my body literally is what keeps my baby alive

-No one else can feed my baby for me

-It is a lot of money to breastfeed believe it or not (nursing bras, nursing pads, pump parts, time)

-In the beginning nursing can take forever and also can leave you feeling engorged and in pain

-Every baby has to learn how to breastfeed and it does not come as naturally as you may think

-Weaning your baby from nursing can be hard, painful, and mentally exhausting

-You need to pump if you go on a date or if baby sleeps too long at night, because engorgement is the worst

Nursing did not come easy or naturally for me but it is something I am so thankful I have been able to experience with each of my 3 boys. I do often think about how nice it would be to not have to always think about breastfeeding or how my baby's feeding also effects my body. I can easily get jealous when I see a mom giving her baby a bottle in the store or at church and  I have to find a place to sit and cover myself. But at the same time I love how my body is able to nourish my baby and although the responsibility can be much, I love how needed I am.

If I could do college all over again I would have loved to study to be a lactation consultant and help moms with their breastfeeding journey. My experience with breastfeeding has only been successful due to my families support, my lactation consultant, and all of the resources we have online.  And since everyone's journey with breastfeeding is different, some happy, some sad, some difficult, I wanted to share some other mom's insights on breastfeeding. Here is some encouragement, advice, and stories from other moms whom I respect and love.

This is one aspect of your child’s health—yes, it’s an important aspect, and healthcare professionals are pretty solidly agreed that it’s incredibly beneficial to both you and your baby—but it IS only one aspect. Think of the long term goal—a healthy mother, a healthy child, a healthy marriage. Just because you don’t breastfeed doesn’t mean you’re going to raise a soda-swilling, Cheeto-munching indigent. Remember that you’re on a steep learning curve—trying to balance a healthy body and life for yourself, for your baby, and for your family—without any instructions or insight on how best to do that. Be mindful that the best thing to do isn’t always the easiest, but that the easiest thing to do may be the best thing for your situation.
— Brooke V.
For most of my short time as a mom I carried so much guilt that breastfeeding didn’t work. It always felt like a troubleshooting game with tips, advice and even classes encouraging me to do/try/push harder than I currently was. I wish someone at the beginning of my journey just bluntly told me that it’s okay if breastfeeding doesn’t work out (instead of sharing the next thing I’d eventually try). It’s okay. Life will go on & you can still be a great mom if you pump or formula feed or partial breastfeed. I put far too much of an emphasis on what society is telling me that I need to do instead of reminding myself that God is good, this season is temporary, and feeding my son spiritually is far more important than physical food. Those truths still encourage me daily.
— Steph M.
I had to keep setting timelines for myself like, “I’ll try to make it to 3 months, then 6 months. I felt obligated to stick with it since it was good for him, I was producing enough, and I was staying home and wanted to save the money. My least favorite part was the lack of flexibility, and most places you can’t just stop and breastfeed on demand so I never left home or was greatly bending over backwards trying to do it discreetly or hiding out in a bathroom stall. Eventually the introvert in me liked the opportunity to get away because of breastfeeding or pumping and it got easier until I was a little sad when I finally weaned him.
— Anne G.
I loved the way it helped me feel close with my babies. With my youngest I breastfeed 14 or 15 months and I just hated that I couldn’t sit down with her until after she was weaned or she would just expect to be fed, I hate that it’s exhausting! And now my boobs are deflated lol
— Megan P.
If you have to pump often, buy extra parts because washing and sanitizing them is a such a chore. I had 8 of each piece so I wasn’t obligated to wash all the time but did big batches every other day or so.
— Taissa G.
 Newborn nursing sessions make for the sweetest pictures

Newborn nursing sessions make for the sweetest pictures

 back when leo would take a bottle from big brother max

back when leo would take a bottle from big brother max

 milk I donated 3 days after leo was born. in total I have donated over 300 oz to date

milk I donated 3 days after leo was born. in total I have donated over 300 oz to date

the emotions that come with weaning.

 Photo by Courtney White

Photo by Courtney White

 

For the first time in over four years I am not pregnant or nursing a baby! Weaning a nursing baby is a lot easier said than done, in most cases. And it is only this time around that I am truly understanding the emotions that can come with weaning.

 I had almost a year of postpartum depression with Calvin, so when he weaned at 17 months (the day I found out I was pregnant with Max) I was relieved. Fast-forward to this time around with Max and I am a mess. My entire experience with raising Max has been so different from raising Calvin. I enjoyed Max and every milestone he went through (minus teething, that always sucks) and dreaded him getting bigger. I think since I had such a sad experience with Calvin I made up for it the second time around and cherished every moment that much more, knowing how quickly they grow up.

With each boy I had the typical one year goal of breastfeeding and after the initial hurdles I realized I was one of the lucky ones who had a pretty smooth and and positive journey with breastfeeding. At Max's one year mark, in typical Gina fashion, I went the route I did with Calvin and nursed only in the morning and right before he went to bed at night (7pm).  I have been dreading the day when nursing was over for us because unlike his big brother Max is a total momma's boy. He simply adores me and it is such an incredible feeling. I know that breastfeeding is not the only way we can or will bond but it was something that made him stop, sit, and snuggle with me. While nursing, he forgot about everything else in the world. In my mind weaning was going to tear something away from me: the good memories. There have been a lot of tears (mostly from me), but I think since I am not pregnant I feel a huge loss. These boys are continuing to grow up and gain their independence from me and while that does not mean they do not need me they both no longer need me for something that only I can give them.

Thanks to my never ending oversupply, there is also pain with weaning. I could still probably nurse a village so there are both physical and emotional consequences to weaning him. On the flip-side, ever since we weaned Max from nursing in the middle of the night a few months ago he has been sleeping 12 hours straight at night!! Go Max!

To any mom out there who plans to wean soon. has weaned, or will in the future I now know what it is like. In the past I would question why it was so hard for some moms to wean but I see now that it was because I was only taking the child into consideration. Our kids will forget about nursing and will move on quickly, but I think that it is so important to acknowledge that it is a relationship between two people.

As moms it is easy to address our kids emotions and to comfort them at the neglect of our own. I am so blessed and thankful to have been able to nurse both my boys and it will take me a little bit to feel 100% myself with hormones and some loss. But I am hopeful that once everything regulates I will love feeling a little bit more like myself again. Nursing pads, nursing bras, and leaking can get old and I look forward to the day when I no longer get a let down feeling in the freezer department. Who would have known that the mom who wanted to ditch breastfeeding so badly in the very beginning would end up missing it and all that it entails?

Genesis 21:8 "And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned." 

***If you would like to share your breastfeeding or bottle-feeding journey with other moms on the blog, please email me at ginazdavis@gmail.com.

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

Guest post by: Katie Harris Breastfeeding Thus Far

Katie and I were in the same sorority in college at San Diego State University, Alpha Delta Chi. She blogs at Kompletely Katie (post originally posted on January 25,2016)

 

This post has been a long time coming, and before I start I want to preface everything by saying I am no expert on BFing and I do not have all the answers.. trust me I wish I did,  its still a big mystery to me. However, I wanted to share Emerson and I’s journey with BFing thus far and maybe be able to help or encourage other mommies or soon-to-be mommies to stick with it; because honestly it is such a special thing you can share with your little one.

From the very beginning I knew I wanted to BF but I also had a lot of fears, stress, and self doubt about it. I wanted to be able to provide the best nutrients for my baby that I could, and I wanted to trust in my body’s ability to produce enough milk for him. When Emerson was first born we did skin-to-skin right away which was SO SO SPECIAL and we attempted nursing between 30-45 mins after birth. Right off the bat it was very painful like most first time moms and he had a horrible latch. With help from the lovely nurses we could get him to latch well on the left side but for some reason the right side, even though it might have appeared to be ok, TRUST me when I say something was wrong because I was in tears from the pain. My first mistake I now know was listening to the lactation consultant at the hospital, I know I know we should be able to trust and rely on these professionals but her advice and lack of effort in helping Emerson and I lead to a ton of complications.

#1 if it hurts more than being a little uncomfortable in the beginning than SOMETHING IS WRONG, it should NOT hurt or bring you to tears.

We were about to be discharged from the hospital which was both excited and nerve-racking, WE were going home to where there was no help from experts and we were responsible for this perfect little beautiful miraclethat is our son. I did not want to mess up and by-golly I wanted to be able to feed him and make sure he could gain weight because he had lost over the recommend amount in the first couple days. I asked the lactation consultant again for help but she basically said its my body’s fault and that my nipples weren’t elastic enough yet. So I needed to suck it up and deal with the pain…. Well that is the worst advice you can give a new mommy.

A few days of excruciating pain went by and within a week I had a pretty bad cracked nipple. Besides being sleep deprived and in a lot of pain from recovering whenever it was time to nurse on that side I was overcome with so much anxiety, fear, and self doubt. And this very special time that my new baby boy and I were supposed to share and cherish quickly turned into something I feared. I called the lactation consultant up again and she said the same thing that it takes time but at this point something was definitely wrong with his latch. Thankfully with much encouragement from my big sister as well as my best friend who also is a new mommy, I decided to not give up and to keep going and so I searched for a new lactation consultant and she was a dream come true. But because I had so much damage to my right nipple she advised that I pumped that side and let him nurse exclusively off the left side for a few days until that nipple can heal.

#2 Find a good lactation consultant, one that you feel comfortable around and is encouraging and helpful! They will become such a good resource for you especially in the first month or so.

I followed her instructions but my nipple did not heal in a couple days (it took about a week to show noticeable improvement).

#3 If you have a question or something seems just a little off, do NOT put off calling your lactation consultant in hopes of it correcting itself…TRUST ME!

Over the weekend because I did not call in time for help, I developed a clogged milk duct..(I noticed a small lump earlier in the week, but I thought it went away on its own.) By the time I could make an appointment to get in to be seen I had had a clogged duct for about a week. I was told to nurse on that side, pump, use hot and cold compresses, take a hot shower, and massage it like crazy. All of which Clinton and I tried plus a few home remedies we read about on other mom blogs (cabbage leave, and we even went as far as having Clinton suck to try and get it out). NOTHING was working, and I was in excruciating pain crying with each feed. My entire day and night was spent either nursing, pumping, massaging, or using a hot or cold compress. I am LUCKY and so THANKFUL that Clinton was home for some of this and that his work allowed him to come home and help me a little if I needed to pump and Emerson was not cooperating. I could not have handled it on my own.

I didn’t have a fever so I didn’t think it was Mastitis, just an unclog-able clogged milk duct. I ended up going to the ER and doctors 4 more times, sent to a ultra sound and everyone told me it was just a clogged duct and that it would go away (mind you at this point I had had whatever it was for 3+ weeks). I finally got a fever one night and I just broke down because I was way over tired from being in a ton of pain and I just wanted to be able to take care of my new baby boy without it bringing me so much pain and distress.

The next morning I called my OB and told them that I had a fever and that the lump was still very much there, in fact it had tripled its size ( it was about the size of a golf ball) and that I needed to be seen. At the OB I was telling Clinton that I knew I had Mastitis from the very beginning and now, because the OBs wouldn’t treat it as such, my once small clogged duct had turned into an abscess, that would need to be aspirated. I was sent to a breast specialist who sent in an order for aspiration.

#4 If you know something isn’t quite right even if your OB or Doctor do not seem too concerned, stick up for yourself! If I had, and asked for a prescription earlier on I could have prevented the abscess from forming.

Let me tell you getting a large gauge needle put into your breast then prodded around to suck out mucous from an infection is no fun, but if it was going to help me get better and make it so that nursing my son no longer caused me pain than I was up for it!! So long story short I ended up having to go back to get my breast aspirated twice a week for a month then 1 every two weeks for another month, all the while taking high doses of antibiotics. But I AM HAPPY to say that my clogged duct/abscess is officially gone and I am able to BF Emerson with out any pain!!!

I would not have been able to stick through it without the constant support from my husband, family and friends. Being able to breastfeed my son is now such a special time I get to spend with him and I cherish it! Now I am not going to say that we are 100% great at it..haha.. Emerson gets so easily distracted and loves to pinch and pull and squeeze me all the time hahahaha.. but I love the fact that I am about to provide just what he needs to grow and develop.

#5 MOST IMPORTANT!.. If you want to Breastfeed your baby and you have the ability to produce milk, don’t give up! Stick with it, it may be hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes exhausting at first but its AMAZING! and I thank God Everyday that I have the ability to produce milk for him!!

I apologize if this post was too detailed or not detailed enough. Do not hesitate to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them!!