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On Breastfeeding

Maine_064I’m an “advocate” for breastfeeding.  If the words “breast” or “nipple” scare you, don’t read this entry.

I breastfed Leto for 15 months (the day I stopped was the day I found out I was newly pregnant with Micah).  I breastfed Micah for 12 months.

Each child is different.
When I got pregnant my mom told me to toughen up my nipples by scrubbing them hard for 30-60 seconds with a washcloth every day.  I did that. It hurt. I didn’t realize why I had to do that until I gave birth to Leto and tried my best to get him to latch on (which was no easy task).  A lactician (is that a word?) nurse at the hospital spent 10 minutes helping Leto latch onto my breast the first time and gave me advice (I was so nervous and embarrassed about having someone see or touch my breast who was not Rob and it took me a minute before I let the very kind lady help me out).  It was so helpful.  I seriously had no idea what I was doing, I just knew that my mom breastfed all her children and that it was the most natural and most healthy choice of nutrition my baby could get.

I was given nursing pads and nursing ointment for my nipples by my now late God-mother, and am so thankful she gave me the best thing a nursing mom could have!  My milk did not come in right away.  They said it would take up to 4 days before I noticed milk coming into my breasts.  I was frustrated that Leto wouldn’t latch on and tried to be more patient with him.  Because I had no milk yet, Leto was not getting the right nutrition he needed (and for a 9 lb, 14 oz. baby, he was in desperate need of it).  He ended up getting jaundice and having to stay at the hospital overnight on the day that I was sent home from the hospital (I was so devastated and cried the entire day because they wouldn’t let me stay with him as they would give him formula).

The following day Leto was home with us and my milk came in. It came in so much that this A cupped girl grew to a DD.  It hurt a lot and felt like rocks were in my bosom. The milk started to leak out as I ballooned up. I  feel that memory of that pain just typing this up.  Leto would drink for 90 minutes! The boy was hungry all the time.  I’d cry all the time because he’d give me a 30 minute break, only to spend another 90 minutes back on.  My brother called me “Milky” because I nursed all the time.  I could never pump ever.  I would try but would only get an ounce out, so I only nursed directly from the breast.

OurLittleLeto

Due to how often Leto was drinking my milk, I started to bleed out of one of my nipples really badly, and the other would bleed every so often.  A nurse said it was okay for him to “drink my blood” with his milk, but I was so scared and nervous about that.  My mom told me that I had to “air out” my breasts because having them covered all the time with cracked bleeding nipples was making it worse. I was at home most of the time, so air them out I did.

Nursing in public is not my thing. I do think my breasts are still for the attention of my husband alone even when nursing. While some proclaimed “a breast is something to feed your child so too bad for the other people out there;”  I still wanted to remember that a breast is arousing as well, no matter how many times I have heard angry mothers exclaim their love for public nursing. I wore a cover whenever in front of people.

After the first month and a half of nursing, I became a pro.  The bleeding and pain went away. The only time I ever had pain was when Leto would bite me (when his teeth were coming through) while he’d drink his milk and laugh about it.  Not so funny, little fuzzy-head child! When I hear of mothers who have the ability to feed their children but decide not to and give them formula, I get a little sad. I had a very healthy child because he had my milk, and my abdomen muscles were tightening as he’d drink which was good because by the time I was done nursing, I finally was back down to my normal weight (only to grow again from being pregnant again).  I know some of my friends had to stop nursing because no milk even came out of them for some reason, which makes sense to need to give formula if you have no milk to give, but if you have milk but choose not to give it, that just sounds odd to me.  I talked to a few moms who would give up nursing because it was too painful. Endure! Endure! It is worth it! It gets so much easier after only a few weeks!  Don’t give up!

When Micah was born he latched right on and I hadn’t any pain at all (and he wasn’t a biter). He was my “snacker” baby. He would drink milk for 5-15 minutes and be full and content.  He would nurse every two hours or so. He didn’t have jaundice because I gave him formula in his first 4 days before my milk came in.  On his 1st birthday I gave him organic whole milk and he loved it and I was done nursing. That is how I got Leto off too; no weening off of it like I have heard other moms have to do, which I am sure is frustrating as well.

OurLittleMicah

Now that Micah is 4 years old, and I haven’t nursed for 3 years; it is kinda of sad in a way. My mom always tells me she has dreams of herself nursing her babies again because it was such a loving thing and she adored doing it. I just did it because it was the natural thing to do, but not because it was wonderful. If anything, it made me sleepy (I don’t know if that is because I am anemic in general and so I was affected more than normal with dizzy spells and tiredness or what-not).  I am glad I’m not engorged or dealing with back pains from huge breasts being in the way and that I don’t smell like dried breast milk anymore (it really is a nasty smell).  I never really wore nursing bras after the first few months with Leto, because nursing bras are ugly to me and I love pretty undergarments (so no nursing bras were ever worn during Micah’s nursing time).

Waking up in the middle of the night and putting one of our babies next to me or between Rob & I in bed as I’d nurse, and I’d fall back asleep and wake up when they were done (which is a strange thing that happened all the time, and Rob and I don’t move in our bed so I never feared smothering them, and they were good) was so easy and didn’t wear me out compared to the idea of having to get a bottle ready with formula and have to stay up to feed them.  I had a co-sleeper attached to my side of the bed.  I would often put the boys on their boppy and nurse while writing people letters.  It was nice.

I don’t miss having to stop to nurse on long car rides.
I don’t miss having to get out the boppy and cover all the time.
I don’t miss having baby’s & my own sweat all over us after or during nursing (poor boys would be soaked).

I just want to encourage that if any of you ladies reading this ever have a baby; consider nursing. It is a great way to bond with your child as you watch them fall asleep with this cute expression on their faces as they drink.  It is really nice to know that you don’t have to spend any money trying to feed your child for the first few months of their life.  It is nice to know that they are helping you get skinny again (I’m vain).  It is totally worth it. I was reminded of all this as I watched Rachel nurse Amelie (she wore a cover too, so I didn’t actually see her nurse, but I knew what was happening and smiled at the memory of my own boys nursing).  I thought I’d share. Thanks for reading.

Micahbeach

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24 thoughts on “On Breastfeeding

  1. That’s wonderful you nursed both babies! May I ask how you went about weaning when your older son was 15 months? We are ttc our 4th baby but our 3rd is still happily b/f’ing at 18 months old and we don’t want to abruptly wean him. He still very much enjoys it. 😉 Was it recommended that you wean for medical reasons or you just chose to? 🙂

    1. I weaned both of them by giving them regular milk and it worked after they had one cup of milk, which I mentioned in the post. I guess Organic whole cow’s milk tastes similar to women’s breast milk? I didn’t want to breastfeed after a year in general but kept going with the first one because it wasn’t a problem (I was going to go for two years total) and found out I was pregnant, and then stopped nursing that day on the spot. I wasn’t recommended anything by anyone for an appropriate time to stop, but the nurses used to say that it was good to at least nurse for the first full year, so that’s what I did.

      My great-grandmother nursed one of her kids until he was 7, which sounds so odd to me. I felt that if my babies could tell me he wanted to have milk vocally, then that would weird me out a little. . .so I stopped before my son could talk. haha.

      I know a few women who nursed without a problem for two full years and I don’t know their process of weaning.

      Most of my breastfeeding friends couldn’t nurse their kids for too long while pregnant (they ran out of milk, perhaps all the nutrients when to the babies in their wombs). I even had an aunt say that no one could get pregnant while nursing (which I proved her wrong, and apparently so did you and a few other friends of mine. Silly old wives’ tales).

      How did you wean off your first two kids? Is your 18 month old the longest you have nursed? I’d say either attempt to wean him off now for as long as it takes but definitely try to stop by the time you are ready to give birth again. Perhaps at least introduce cow’s milk to him and see how he likes it? If it works out you could continue to give him a little more each day, perhaps?

      1. Well, I meant the actual process of weaning. You just gave him a cup of cow’s milk and he didn’t mind not nursing anymore? My son asks to nurse by signing ‘milk’. He eats regular food and drinks water but he does not have any other milk but mine.
        My older two children…well, my daughter I weaned from 12-14 months replacing nursings with meals slowly. My son was 16 months old and he was down to only nursing at nap and bedtime so my husband started putting him to bed and he was weaned!
        Yes, this is the longest I’ve nursed a child. He is the most interested in it! I don’t want to take it away from him but I also don’t like the idea of a talking little one still breastfeeding either. 😉
        I’ve read that milk can change in taste when a woman is pregnant, or that she can dry up. I’m hoping if we do conceive soon, that he won’t be interested anymore and I can start giving him almond milk instead.
        He doesn’t only nurse for the food aspect of it, is the thing, though. I can tell he gets comfort from it and a closeness with me, along with the milk. 🙂

      2. I think it’s good. 🙂 I am allergic to soy milk so that one is out. But almond milk has as much calcium as cow’s milk plus other great nutrients, so my kids’ pediatrician recommends it.

  2. I hated nursing at first — like you, I was sort of shocked by how I was nursing ALL THE TIME. Gwen nursed for 45 minutes at a time, so I had more of a break than you did, but it still seemed overwhelming. I also had trouble keeping up my supply and having her latch correctly. So we only made it for 8 months, and I was SO sad when we had to give it up. So in the end, I LOVED nursing — it was definitely a bonding experience, and it was way easier than making sure I had formula and bottles around all the time. But on the other hand, formula was easier in that I didn’t have to be home all the time, it was easier to feed on long car rides, and I didn’t have to worry about getting enough calories all the time (it’s exhausting to eat so much!).

    I love nursing, and I hope that Amelie and I can do it for at least 12 months. She’s having trouble latching, but we’re persevering. She’s a snacker like your Micah — eats 5-15 minutes every 2-3 hours. But it takes me a long time to burp her, and if she doesn’t burp, then no one will get sleep in our house. So I end up staying up for an hour to do the whole process, but I’m sure that will change soon. Newborn babies are trickier with nursing/burping than older babies.

    By the time Gwen was 2 months, I was nursing every 3-4 hours and she’d sleep for at least 6 hours straight at night. It DOES get easier as they get older, and that’s what I’m reminding myself when I only end up getting 4 hours of sleep at night due to nursing.

    Loved this post! I’m “working” on a latching post for another blog as a guest piece…but I haven’t gotten around to actually writing anything yet.

  3. Oh also – it’s “lactation” nurse or “lactation consultant.” 🙂

    And I will also say that even though it’s still a challenge for me, it’s SO MUCH easier with the second baby. I don’t worry about going out like I did with Gwendolyn because it’s just easy to take out the nursing cover (THANK YOU for THAT, btw!) and quickly feed Amelie. I even feed her in the car when we go out to the state park or today when I went to a doctor’s appointment. So easy now!

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I really had no idea!
      I got you your nursing cover? I didn’t remember, but I thought I recognized it.
      Glad it has been easier on you the second time around! I think after you learn all the crazy stuff of motherhood after the first one, you get into it so much more confidently the second time around (and I am sure each one gets easier to adjust to).

  4. I’m so glad you made this post. I have to admit I’m a little nervous about nursing and don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because my mom and mother in law didnt do it and all my friends who have are living so far away. However, I fully intend to give it my best. I also really like that you posted about preferring to be modest while feeding. I have had some people tell me I was strange because I prefer for people to keep covered and I don’t like all these pictures people post online. This is not because I don’t think it’s natural and beautiful, but I just don’t think women should be exposing their breasts online when anybody can look at it. Last but definatly not least I loved all the pictures with the post. I’m so ready for my son to get here!!

  5. My due date is April 19th. Unfortunately I’m having a lot of trouble with my blood pressure and amniotic fluid levels. I’m on bed rest right now. I really hope to not have him early, but the way things are going it could be any time.

    1. Ah, that is nearing so soon! I assume doctors/nurses are keeping good tabs on you while you are on bed rest? Is there anyone out there who could help you out, since you mentioned your husband won’t be back for 70 some days? Are you in Kansas still or are you somewhere else until after you have your son?

      1. I am still in Kansas. sometimes wish i had gone home to TN, but its too late now. I have been very happy with how well the Army hospital has been monitoring me. I have three weekly appointments and those are the only times I can get out. My dad is retired so he came out to Kansas about a month ago. All of my nurses think its so sweet that my dad is here with me. I think they see a lot of moms, but not so many dads. I feel very lucky to have him. My mom is coming this weekend. She still works or I think they would have both come out last month.

  6. Not going to lie, I didn’t really read all of this because I don’t have kids, but I have always planned on breast feeding if/when. I did like looking at these pics! I love the first one of you kissing your son’s feet! My mom used to do that, she would also raspberry our feet and bellies when we were babies.

    1. I think I was smooshing my face with Leto’s feet in that picture but it appears to be like I’m eating his feet, which I would kiss his feet too. He liked seeing my face smoosh though. hehe.
      When and if the day comes that you have children. . .seriously read this because you’ll learn a lot about breastfeeding that I wish I knew about! It is so worth it though.

  7. “I’m an “advocate” for breastfeeding. If the words “breast” or “nipple” scare you, don’t read this entry.”

    Totally made me giggle.

    I don’t have children yet, but I know form experience with friend’s kids that breastfeeding isn’t as easy and magical as some people make it out to be. It’s refreshing to hear someone struggled with it, but ultimately had a good outcome.

  8. I also find it really sad how so many people who could don’t breastfeed and instead of advocating for the topic people actually avoid it when it most certainly makes for healthy babies like yours! that sounds awful at first but glad your body adapted well to such a big eater! and i’ve also heard what you said that breast feeding is the quickest/most natural/healthiest way to get back to pre-preg. weight so you can be sure i’ll make my darndest effort to when i have children eventually : ) oh & i’ll have to look into that side bed thing when the day comes as well since we do move around and I can’t even fall asleep w/ my little kitty in my arms for fear I’ll smother her.

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