Why I Chose to Breastfeed

the-breastfed-baby-poster-by-the-alpha-parent

 

Since it’s still Breastfeeding Week, I thought I would talk about why I chose to BF.  The image above (from thealphaparent.com) shows how breastfeeding can benefit your little one.  But it’s not just beneficial to your baby! These are some of the reasons why I chose to breastfeed Miss Bea:

  • It helps you lose the pregnancy weight.  They say that you see the most weight drop between 6-9 months.  I’m not sure about that, but I have noticed in the last couple of weeks I am a little smaller.  I gained 50lbs during my pregnancy, and now only have 7 to go. Without dieting at all.
  • Breastfeeding can help you bond with your baby.  This does not mean formula feeding eliminates bonding, I’m just saying that BF encourages skin-to-skin contact and that there is a closeness associated with it.
  • Decreases risk of SIDS. (More on my obsessive fear of SIDS in a later post)
  • No period!! (this does NOT mean you don’t need birth control)
  • After the initial weeks, it takes less time than bottle feeding
  • The health benefits to the baby (illustrated above)
  • The fact that it’s natural.  I try and eat as cleanly as possible, and would prefer my daughter do the same

Yes, breastfeeding can be challenging and inconvenient (like when you want to go out, but have to pump first.  And while you’re out.) But it is also SO rewarding.  I am so glad I chose to do it, and will hopefully continue to nurse my baby for the full 12 months.

Keeping aBREAST

It’s world breastfeeding week! Breast vs. bottle is a debate that has been going on since the introduction of formula in the ‘40s. I don’t think anyone could argue against the mantra “breast is best”, but formula isn’t poison as many “nursing nazis” may tout.  I was formula fed, as well as all my siblings, and we are doing just fine.  I have no judgement toward people who choose to formula feed.  That being said, I think when many people say they didn’t make enough milk, or some other such reason, it is usually due to a lack of support and knowledge on the part of the nursing staff at the hospital.  I feel bad for those moms who really wanted to breastfeed, but didn’t know how to go about it.

I was lucky enough to deliver in South Nassau Communities Hospital, which is working toward a “Baby Friendly” designation.  A Baby Friendly hospital is one in which the nurses and staff are specifically trained in and support breastfeeding after delivery. I took a class (yes, and my hubs came too!) where we practiced holds and learned latching techniques.  There was a lactation consultant at the hospital every day to help with latching and any issues, and the baby was allowed to room in with us.  Our pediatrician also has a lactation consultant on call. All of these things were ESSENTIAL to my success in breastfeeding.

My Breastfeeding Struggles

When Miss Bea was born, I had already decided I was going to “try” breastfeeding.  I was adamant that I was going to give it a fair shot.  I made sure the staff at the hospital knew of my decision, and she was not to be given a pacifier or bottle.  I knew, from my class, that babies’ tummies are very small (the size of a dime) and can only hold less than a teaspoon at a time, so they DO NOT need any supplementation with formula until your milk comes in in a couple of days.  I felt as though I was struggling with her latch though.  It was a little painful, and I couldn’t seem to hold her correctly.  The LC who taught our class (who is btw a Nursing Nazi– she nursed her last child until she was 5) was the LC on duty that day.  She is crazy. But amazing at her job.  I mean, I can’t even describe her.  She has those crazy eyes, and crazy hair to match.  A little bit like Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. She will literally do anything to get you to breastfeed successfully.  When B kept falling asleep after latching, she went to my meal tray, took a plastic spoon out of the package, and squeezed my nipples (ouch!!) until she got a spoonful of “liquid gold” colostrum and fed it to the baby.  She was very satisfied with herself, and the baby was full for several hours.

By the end of my hospital stay, my latching and positioning issues had been taken care of, and B was nursing successfully.  However, those two days of bad latches, and weak positioning, did a number on my nipples.  They were SO sore, I thought I was going to die.  By the end of the first week, they were cracked, bleeding, and scabbed.  (I know, gross).  I was crying every time I fed her, and was coming to the end of my rope.  I met with the LC back in the hospital to make sure my latch was still OK.  B was still gaining weight, and everything appeared OK, it was just from those first few days and were healing.  She gave me a recipe for a nipple soak (recipe at the bottom), and suggested I give a bottle of pumped milk once a day to give the boobs a break.

Breastfeeding Success

That LC saved me from giving up on BF.  I went out and bought bottles that resembled the breast, and pumped some milk.  But I had heard stories of nipple preference, and Miss Bea was only a week old, so I martyred myself to the cause and fed through the indescribable pain.  I followed the orders and soaked my nipples for 5 minutes after every feed, and I noticed a difference in literally 24 hours.  They were starting to heal!!! I also HIGHLY recommend Medela Hydrogel Pads.  They are these gel pads that are SO soothing in between feeds.  I would not have been able to continue BF without the soak and those pads.  But I am so glad I got through it!

A week later, I started getting these shooting pains in my back when the baby was sucking.  I asked Dr. Google what it could be, and I didn’t think it was thrush (I asked my aunt who is a nurse), but I self-diagnosed vasospasm.  Dr. Google said if I took a vitamin B supplement, and an advil, it would help.  And it did! Yay! hurdle #2 jumped.

Since then, I have been breastfeeding successfully (nearly 6 months!) and have reached my goal.  People keep asking me how long I plan on nursing.  Now that the 6 month mark is approaching, I’m not ready to wean her to the bottle completely.  The reason, honestly, is sheer laziness.  It is just so much easier to whip a boob out if I think she’s hungry than to prep and heat a bottle.  When she wakes up at night for a feed, I don’t want to be coming downstairs to get a bottle while she screams and wakes up even more.  I can feed her for a few minutes and get her back down without her waking.

I hope that my story can help others overcome difficulties in breastfeeding.  It does get easier!! The first few weeks are absolutely the toughest, but moms are made of tougher stuff! Surround yourself with people who support your decision, and you will succeed.

Nipple Soak Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp table salt
  • 1 C of warm water

After feeding, dissolve salt in the water.  Soak nipples for 5 minutes.  Pat dry.  Express a little breastmilk, and let that air dry.  Then, apply lanolin cream.  Do it after every feed for a couple of days, and you’ll see improvement.

Medela Hydrogel Pads are very soothing on sore nipples.

Medela Hydrogel Pads are very soothing on sore nipples.

Gun Shy

Registering is so fun! Walking around with that gun, pretend buying everything in sight.  Except, you’re exhausted just from walking from the car into the enormous warehouse of a baby store, and the woman showing you around the bib aisle smells like strong perfume and you want to throw up. And pee. Ugh. Just do it online.  They try and get you to do it in the store for your “free gift” which consists of advertisements for more garbage.  Don’t bother.  Do it in your stretchy pants with your ginger snaps and morning sickness tea at hand.

First up: Deciding where to register.  I went to a baby shower a couple of years back, where the mom was registered at Babies R Us.  And she got two high chairs.  And bath tubs. And jumperoos.  You get the idea. They don’t seem to update their registries fast enough, and that’s a pain in the arse.  They are good about returns without a receipt, and have a good rewards system, as well as a pre-paid card thing people can put money on for diapers and wipes if you’re into that sort of thing.  There are also many locations around the country to make it easy for people to shop.

I’ve also heard nothing but horror stories about Target’s registries (which pains me to say, because I LOVE Tar-gé).  They’re not great about returns, and also don’t update them fast enough so you end up with doubles.  I don’t know what they offer in the way of discounts for completing your registry.

I’m an Amazon Mom.  I get the diapers automatically delivered every month for the 20% discount. I spend all day reading people’s reviews on everything from video monitors to sunblock.  I love free two day shipping. I believe Amazon also lets you put items from other websites on your registry, so everything is all in one place.  The only downfall I see to registering with Amazon, is returns will have to be through the mail.  And I returned a LOT of things, just because I’d find something else I liked better, or if I received something similar that wasn’t off the registry etc. Another problem could be that for older, non-tech-savvy grandparents/aunts/etc. getting on the interweb might be a challenge.  Although many of them don’t buy off the registry anyway…

Buy Buy Baby was a winner for me. Their website left a lot to be desired, but they’ve since changed it and made it easier. They accept Bed Bath & Beyond coupons (Love those 20% that come in the mail every other week), and they have completion events where you get 20% off everything that’s left on your registry (nice for when you want a $700 stroller and a $300 breast pump). They don’t seem to have that many locations though, so again, that could be a challenge for people who don’t shop online or live near one.

Wherever you choose to register for your little peanut, make sure to check out their returns policy, as well as any incentives for registering.  Happy scanning! (or clicking, if you’re in your yoga pants sipping on ginger ale like I was!)