Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breastfeeding-- 4 months in!

So I thought I'd do a post on breastfeeding, since it consumes so much of my life now! 

Let me just start by saying- I love breastfeeding.  Now would I have said that at 1 week, or even 1 month postpartum?  Probably not. 

I always knew I would breastfeed my babies.  My mom nursed me and my two brothers for various lengths of time, my aunt nursed her babies as well, so I grew up around it knowing it was a natural, wonderful thing and the best way to feed a baby.

But I have to say it wasn't what I had expected.  Before I had Jackson, I took a breastfeeding class to just get an overview on everything so I would feel more prepared.  It was a HUGE help and I would recommend that anyone interested in breastfeeding to do the same.  I also did tons of my own research and became even more passionate about it.  The benefits for both mother and baby are insanely awesome.  (Like did you know it can reduce instances of breast cancer in women and also different cancers in babies?)  I'm not going to go into everything here, but seriously, google it- you'll be amazed!  I didn't know why on earth everyone didn't breastfeed!  Not only for the health benefits but have you priced a carton of formula lately???

Well the time came for Jackson to be born!  With the help of my mom I got Jackson latched on right away with no problems.  (He was a 40-weeker, born 2 days past his due date so I think that helped with not having any initial latch problems)

Nursing Jackson for the first time-- I was thinking it's going to be cake!

In the hospital we did ok-- we had a bit of trouble getting him to open his mouth wide enough but he eventually got the hang of it. 

My milk came in on the third day after he was born and WOW did it come in.  I was super engorged and my nipples HURT!  Partly because they were just getting used to it, but also because Jackson wasn't always latching on properly because I was so engorged (think- trying to bite a soccer ball LOL!).  I was a slave to lanolin and the little gel pads that we put in the fridge to get nice and cold. 

Jackson in his first ever milk coma-- also the first time I nursed him not at home or in the hospital-- we were in the car in the pharmacy parking lot lol,  Side note- can't BELIEVE how TINY he is here! :(

I think I was about a week into breastfeeding when I had my first ever moment where I wanted to give up.  All along I had been SO determined to do it-- to make it as long as I could or to my ultimate goal of 1 year.  Failure wasn't an option for me.  But in this particular moment of postpartum hormones, cluster feeding, engorgement and nipple soreness I almost gave in and gave him some of the formula samples I had received.  It sounds so petty when I look back on it but I was in tears at the time.  So I was like I said engorged and I felt like my nipples could potentially have been ripped to shreds (ok- so I didn't have any bleeding but omg were they sore) He was also doing some cluster feeding and we were dealing with some gas issues he was having at the time (later due to hindmilk/foremilk imbalance we think).  I had had a long exhausting day and was functioning on little to no sleep.  My husband finally came home from work and I handed him Jackson and said I HAVE to get a shower.  So I was getting in the nice hot shower, all shut in the bathroom and finally getting a chance to relax and breathe.  I no more than stepped in when Jackson started screaming to be fed again (no matter I just fed him a half hour prior)  Brew was getting frustrated because he couldn't console him and came in the bathroom and told me to hurry it up (we ended up arguing a bit too).  I just cried and rushed through my shower.  I did NOT want to nurse him.  I was in pain, I was tired.  I needed a break.  But I summoned up that inner strength that only moms have I think-- and did it anyway.  Not before I considered giving him the formula though.  But I didn't and I'm so glad I didn't.  But for the first time I really understood why some people don't breastfeed.  Especially in the beginning, it's HARD, even if you don't have any of the textbook problems or anything- it's still HARD!

Ahh another milk coma

Things gradually started to get better though.  The initial engorgement calmed down, which meant his latch improved, and the soreness subsided.  I'd say by the time I hit the 1 month mark it no longer hurt to nurse.  It also started to become something I actually enjoyed.  I did have an oversupply/over active letdown which was contributing to his gassiness/fussiness.  After a bit of research I started block feeding, and eased up on any pumping I was doing.  It made Jackson a much happier baby now that he didn't have a tummy ache after every feeding.  He was still spitting up (and he still spits up) but he's a happy spitter usually so it's nothing to worry about.  He also started to be more interactive as he got older, he would hold on to my shirt or bra and look up at me and even smile while he was latched on.  Soooo precious!

His tiny hand holding on to my shirt while nursing

Once we hit the 6-week mark then things REALLY started getting easier.  I seldom to never had to use the lanolin, and I was getting more and more comfortable nursing in public.  A few times I would bring a bottle of pumped milk when we went out, usually because it was thawed earlier when I didn't work and wasn't used and needed to be used.  It became way more trouble to heat a bottle while out than it was to just nurse him.

Nursing him on Christmas Eve at my inlaws!

Now here we are a little over four months in and it's awesome.  I'm so glad that I didn't give up when I wanted to.  It's rewarding to look at my almost-16-pound baby and all his little rolls and know that it was MY milk that gave him that adorable chub!

My chunky monkey after his breakfast :)

I have experienced all the benefits that I knew about-- I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight just shy of 4 months postpartum without any dieting or exercise, my son has NEVER been sick (even through this rough winter where my husband and I were BOTH sick, TWICE), and I've not had to pay a dime for any of his food.

I've also experienced benefits I didn't know about-- mostly the bonding and closeness I have with my son that I don't know I would have had if I decided not to breastfeed.  He not only wants to nurse for food, but also for comfort.  When he gets his shots or otherwise isn't feeling well (lately it's been teething) he wants to nurse.  He always wants to nurse when I've worked that day, no matter if he had a bottle two hours or two minutes before I walked in the door.  It's our way to reconnect after being apart and I love it.

I also have to say I couldn't of made it this far even without the support of my awesome husband (and also my mom & cousin Stefani).  My husband told someone not long ago that he was proud of me for having breastfed our son and continuing to do so.  It means the world to me that he's proud of me.  He's been there for me and supported me in every possible way he can and I'm so thankful!

I'm so glad I made this decision and stuck with it.  It will be a sad day when he is weaned I can tell you that much!  I am in no way judging anyone who decides not to breastfeed, there are tons of reasons why it may not work out.  But I would encourage anyone to try, it's not easy especially at first, but boy is it worth it!

1 comment:

Kasey said...

So sweet! Great job, momma!