Breastfeeding | The Life of K: Breastfeeding

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Breastfeeding

In honour of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences with feeding my two little ones.

I have no strong feelings about breastfeeding but knew that it was something I wanted to try. I hoped it would work with Little J (back when he was Baby J) and read about it while pregnant with him.

Reading about it is one thing, but doing it is another. Breastfeeding isn't always the natural, lovely, amazing thing people say it is. It's hard and it can hurt and it's tiring, exhausting actually.

After a relatively quick first labour - 23 hours from water breaking to baby - I still felt like I had been hit by a truck and all I wanted to do was sleep for a week. Guess what? That just isn't possible with a newborn.

The best thing for breastfeeding is starting off on the right foot. A combination of things (me having never breastfed before, Baby J being a lazy baby and wanting to sleep instead of eat, and me being physically exhausted) made for a rough start. Rough enough that breastfeeding never got established.

Thankfully I didn't have a problem with lack of milk though and was able to pump and give my baby milk for almost 4 months. I stopped pumping, for selfish reasons, when he was 3 months old and used up the stash in the freezer after that.

I don't feel bad about it. Pumping and bottle feeding is more work than either breastfeeding or formula feeding and I did it. We did it. My baby got breastmilk and everything good that comes along with it.

Even so, I was hopeful that breastfeeding would go better the second time. With Baby K, I'm happy to say that is has. Again, it was probably a combination of things (me having a quick and easy labour and delivery and feeling great right away, Baby K being alert and better at eating, and a generally laid back attitude) that helped us establish breastfeeding almost immediately.

I am incredibly proud that my little girl has been exclusively breastfed. I'm proud of myself and proud of her. I'm more experienced and she's a natural.

It hasn't been a walk in the park the whole time. We've had issues with latch and supply (again, a slight over supply if anything) and pain. Even now, almost 6 months into this journey, we're having some issues.

And I don't ever feel the awesome feeling that some women describe when nursing. To me, it's nice but it's still work. And it's hot work, having the baby so close to my body. It's sometimes overwhelming being so tethered to a small person who fully depends on you for nourishment.

Now some logistics. I have two nursing bras that I love (by Bravado) and recently got a nursing tank (from Motherhood Maternity) to fill in the gaps. I have another bra that I don't like but keep in case I need it. I own a nursing cover but I don't use it, even when nursing Baby K in public. At home I almost always use a nursing pillow (my favourite is the Jolly Jumper one) and use some sort of pillow when at someone's house, though I'm getting better without one.
I use breastpads 100% of the time and use cream after every shower.

I still pump occasionally and am grateful that a coworker of mine who was done having kids gave me her breast pumps before Baby J was born. While pumping exclusively for him, I mostly used the Medela Pump-n-Style which is a double electric pump. This means you pump both breasts at the same time. It's efficient but very mechanical and if I never have to hear the whirr-whirr-whirr again I'll be a happy girl. These days, since I pump so infrequently, I use an Avent manual single pump. It works very well for my body and for my needs. Pumping is not a natural thing and it's easy to feel very unsexy and cow-like especially when hooked up to the double electric, but it helps in a lot of situations and was truly the only reason Baby J got my milk for as long as he did.

I haven't yet had to deal with nursing a baby who has teeth and Baby K is only starting to get distracted while eating. That is helped by nursing her without anyone else around and without the tv on or me talking. I can imagine our struggles aren't over and who knows what the future holds for us. Either way I'm glad we've come this far.

If you are currently breastfeeding or have before, congratulations to you, mama. Happy breastfeeding week.

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