Woops! I almost missed it! This week has been World Breastfeeding Week. Today is the last day, and also the first day that I actually learned about it from reading another blog. Guess I'll just have to store that in the mental Rolodex.
Anyway, I thought I would share my own story about breastfeeding, that I am a huge advocate and that it really isn't anything to be afraid of.
Before I even thought about having kids, and the entire time I was pregnant with Tanner (up until the second he was born), I never even wanted to breastfeed. I have heard of all the health benefits that breast milk gives, but I still wasn't phased. I figured since I was adopted, was fed formula, and I turned out ok... why do it? It also just seemed kind of icky to me.
There were many many people that kept trying to pressure me into doing it. Demanding it actually. Drilling into me on how good it is for the baby and blah blah blah. And if anyone knows me AT ALL, the more you try to tell me or pressure me into doing something, the more stubborn I will be and back away from it even more. Needless to say, this really turned me off even more to the whole idea.
Kollin and I talked about it, and he really wanted me to. So I compromised, since ya know, it's his kid too. I said I would pump milk and bottle feed him the breast milk, but NOT breastfeed. And that is where the conversation ended and stayed until that cute little gummybear was put in my arms for the first time.
Yup. That did it. All of my not-gunna-do-it attitude went right out the window. You hear mothers say it all the time, and you never really know that feeling until it happens to you. I wanted to provide for him. I wanted to feel close to him. I wanted to feed him the natural way.
I was one of the lucky ones. He had an amazing latch and picked it up right away. I spoke to a lactation specialist at the hospital and she helped me out when I didn't think I was quite getting it since I obviously didn't know what it was supposed to feel like or how to do it. She was great and helped me with a couple techniques, but other than that she said we were doing just fine and to keep it up.
Then the crap hit the fan and we were about to go on a journey of a lifetime to save our little boy. They would no longer allow me to breastfeed my baby. He had IV's and all kinds of wires and tubes coming out of him, it was next to impossible to just hold him, let alone try to stick my boob in his face and get him to eat. (he was asleep the majority of the time anyway)
At the two additional hospitals we were at, I spoke to other lactation specialists that helped me out so much. I kept pumping the entire time, and apparently I am a cow (in the producing milk sense). All the nurses were surprised that I was able to produce as much milk as I was with all of the stress. They were even running out of room in their freezer and asked me to take some of it home!
I was not able to nurse him again until 6 days after his surgery, which was 10 or 11 days since the last time he nursed. We had already taught him how to suck, swallow and breath correctly again since we were allowed to bottle feed him. Then they said I could try to nurse again!
I was so afraid that he would not latch again since it had been so long, and that he had gotten too used to the bottle. At least this is what the nurses were telling me. Apparently they didn't know that I had already been nursing him before all of this had happened and that his latch was great. Because of this, my prayers were answered and he picked it right back up again.
Ever since then, I have always done both. Nursing and bottle feeding. I am proud to say that he has never had formula or anything but breast milk. And now the solids that he has started. But yay!
My reasons for doing both and not only nursing are that I am paranoid if he is getting enough. One big part of his recovery was to gain weight. So I wanted to be able to see exactly how much he was eating. I would still nurse a couple times a day so I could keep that attachment to him and so he wouldn't lose his latch, but the majority of the time was the bottle.
Now that has flipped. His pediatrician has urged me to nurse more. He says there is nothing to worry about since he is gaining weight, he is recovering wonderfully and I apparently am not having any issues with not producing enough milk. I nurse him the majority of the time, and bottle feed him less.
It is definitely a lot of work. He is eating about every 2 hours right now, and has been for a really long time. I also used to pump every 2 hours to make sure I had enough milk stored up in case my supply started to diminish for any reason. Now that he his eating solids, I am not pumping as often which has been nice. But if I would ever need to start doing the 2 hour pumping again, I would in a second to make sure my baby gets what he needs.
As I said before, I am a very lucky one. It has come to me very easily. Tanner has been a nursing champ. I feel so blessed that this has been one thing that came to me so easily and that I didn't have to worry about it with all of the other worries I had for the first few weeks of his life.
I know of many other women that have had very hard experiences. I am not trying to downplay them at all. I will never think negatively or believe a woman is lazy for feeding her child differently. I can tell you the whole bottle thing takes a ton of work! I could not imagine having to measure and mix the formula as well! I want to cry and do anything I can to help my friends that have difficulties. I have gone as far as offering my extra milk to one of my friends that just recently had a baby who has not been having any luck with producing or him latching. (he was a preemie and we discovered that it wasn't a good idea to let him have my milk, so we haven't done it)
This has just been my experience. It is possible to be able to keep breastfeeding after a tragic event. It is extremely hard and challenging. I will not say that it has been easy. It takes will power and amazing commitment to keep it up. But if you are able to, wouldn't you do anything for your child?