I must say, I LOVE breastfeeding. Which would sound crazy to those who have known me the longest. Before I had kids I, sadly, was a direct product of society and thought it was gross. I was so very ignorant.
My first experience with breastfeeding was when a friend of mine had her baby and allowed me to be present for her first lactation consultation. (It was this particular baby girl that gave me the baby bug, and we began trying to conceive.) I supported her 100%, but just never thought it was for me, until one day about three months into my first pregnancy, I woke up and simply thought, why wouldn’t I breastfeed? My body is growing a baby, the next step is having the baby, and then I need to feed the baby. That’s why God gave me these awkward things! Looking back on that sudden change, I realize that it was the first step I took into the natural world of motherhood. And I thank God for it!
By the end of my pregnancy with Max, I had purchased some nursing attire, a nursing pillow, 3 bottles, and some breastmilk bags in my preparation for feeding Max. I was planning to purchase a pump sometime in the near future.
While in the hospital, I was not pleased with our breastfeeding start. I did latch within the first hour but wasn’t encourage to nurse often and couldn’t find my voice with some visitors to gain privacy to try again. Max never cried for the breast, but knowing what I know now, I should have offered it more. I wasn’t aware how important it was, that we needed to teach each other how to do this and I just wish we would have had a more involved start.
Nevertheless, nursing ended up being amazing for both of us. I pretty much nursed on demand, occasionally trying to find a schedule like my other friends were doing, but Max turned out to be very in favor of letting me know when he was hungry, and how hungry he was, so I basically followed his lead. (As for formula, I did give him a tiny syringe of some during our first day home on the advice of his pediatrician to “get him over the hump” until my milk came in, but other than that, formula never made another appearance in our home.) We used the bottles with breastmilk a couple times for Daddy and Mamaw to experience feeding.
Max nursed like a pro until 14 months old, upon which he started this awful pinched lip latch. I spent a month trying to correct it until I accepted the idea that he might be ready to wean. The next morning, I gave him a cup of milk, which he drank uneventfully. That afternoon, he pulled at my shirt, and I handed him another cup of milk and he never looked back. It was a sad week for me. But clearly time…I guess.
Nursing max was a top notch learning experience. When Mila came along, mastitis (treated with antibiotics,) thrush (treated with gentian violet,) engorgement (eased by pumping,) a constantly tucked bottom lip (manually flange,) and nipple soreness (Lansinoh, but not for longer than 2 weeks) stood no chance against my determination to feed my baby the way God intended. I have fed her completely on demand, from my breast and plan to do so until she’s ready to stop. And I love it. Truly love it. I have never held a doubt about what I’m doing by breastfeeding and my baby girl is perfectly healthy. In the hospital, I nursed, nursed, nursed, and was eating while nursing by dinner time. (She was born at 10am.) It is the most convenient thing I do parenting-wise, it’s perfectly formulated for Miss Mila, it’s the perfect temperature, it reduces my risk of some scary diseases, and it gives me these amazing moments amidst my hectic life to simply stare at the most beautiful little girl God ever made.
She’s currently 6 1/2 months old and nurses 5-15 times per day during her waking hours. She’ll nurse for just a couple minutes, 10 minutes, or 30 minutes, especially if she falls asleep. At our mealtimes, she sits in a high chair, as a member of the family, and eats either some fruit, veggies, yogurt, or just a mum-mum. We introduced solids because of her cues and signs of readiness. And we were right, she was definitely ready.
If I had to give anyone advice about successful breastfeeding, I would say to accept that NOTHING will stand in your way. And just keep trying. Your body didn’t come this far in making, sustaining, and birthing the baby to give up on you now. Imagine what mothers had to do hundreds of years ago. They had their breasts, and the instruction from other mothers. I’ve heard the craziest excuses for not breastfeeding including, “my baby doesn’t like it.” I honestly couldn’t even comment on that one. (I am by no means doubting true breastfeeding issues, I’m speaking of situations in which I was fully aware that, sadly, no effort was made.)
One last tip would be to relax. The only time I’ve had troubles actually getting milk to her was when my milk-ejection reflex stopped ‘working.’ It happened with both babies and I totally freaked each time. But all it took was me calming down whatever was causing me an immense amount of stress at the time to fix everything. Stress has taken a huge role in attacking my breastfeeding efforts. (But I have claimed victory over this area of my life so get behind me, Satan!) So I encourage you to just relax, call someone who has breastfed before and try to remember that you were made to do this.
For professional help, I actually found the Similac feeding expert call center to be super helpful. 800-986-8800