Every single pregnant woman in America has heard the speech, seen the posters, and gotten the advice from her doctor. Breastfeeding is best! Exclusively for 6 months, if you can! Builds baby's immunity!
If it's so damn fantastic, why did I get sent home from the hospital with a goody bag full of formula? I hear there is a new movement to stop this routine- a movement that I wholeheartedly support. It would have been much more helpful to have a list of lactation consultants in my area, and maybe a way to get free home visits if needed, no?
We're not informed enough about breastfeeding in this country. There is the poster in the doctor's office, the prenatal question about whether you plan on doing it- and then you are pretty much on your own. The huge business of pushing formula on new mothers, doesn't help much, either. If breastfeeding really is so much better for baby, women need a little more help. And they definitely need to know some things.
Like, for example- did you know that a baby is born waterlogged, and really doesn't require much in terms of fluids for the first 24 hours? I bet you didn't, because everyone panics when a newborn infant isn't feeding like a pro within hours of being born. It used to be common practice for newborns to receive nothing by mouth for the first 24 hours, because physicians knew that they didn't really need it. I know several women that gave up really quickly because they thought they just weren't producing milk, and they didn't want to starve their babies. Obviously. No one wants to starve their brand new baby. That is where the formula the hospital sent you home with comes in so handy. But once you use the formula, you start to rely on it a little bit. It is way easier than breastfeeding, it comes out of a bottle quickly, and your baby seems much more satisfied.
Vicious cycle begins. More bottle, less breast milk. Less sucking, less producing of breast milk. Mom gives up, feeling like she is just one of those women who couldn't do it.
Now, I am in no way saying that everyone can breastfeed. Everyone can't. There are some women that have real issues with latch, milk production, and so on. And there are some women who just don't want to do it- and that is fine, too. I'm just writing this post to let you know, that if you are one of the women that wants to do it- it's not always easy in the beginning. In fact- it's really fucking hard. But that doesn't mean it won't work out for you.
When Lucien was born, he latched immediately- and immediately began sucking like a little madman. He was on the breast, pretty much constantly for the first 24 hours of his life. My milk didn't come in until about hour 27. That's right- he was sucking constantly and getting nothing for over a day. But that furious sucking is what made my milk come in. Now, I knew this because I had amazing prenatal support from a hypnobirthing doula, who informed me that this would happen. That I, in fact, would not be starving my baby if I didn't notice milk right away. What comes out of a women's breast, before her milk comes in is called colostrum. It is filled with nutrients, but doesn't look like milk at all. Thankfully, I knew this. The hospital that I was in also had an amazing lactation consultant that visited my room about 4 times a day to make sure I wasn't freaking out. It turns out that I was the only woman recovering from a C section in that hospital that was breastfeeding. So she had some extra time to devote to my cause.
|Lucien. He's about 5 minutes old in this picture. He's already eyeing the boob.|
I go home from the hospital, thinking I've got the whole breastfeeding thing down. My boobs are huge, and my nipples are already killing me. Lucien is feeding every hour and a half, for forty five minutes at a time. Holy crap. I start pumping, to give myself a little break. I pump for a half hour and get about two ounces of milk. This goes on for a few weeks. I am getting desperate to try and figure out how I can continue breastfeeding Lucien, without actually having to have him on my boob for twenty hours a day. I almost give up, because I feel like I am just not producing enough to sustain him.
I consult the all-knowing Google for some help here. I find an article about Fenugreek, and how it helps with milk production. I get dressed and walk to the Vitamin Store. I buy it, and begin taking the recommended dose of two pills, three times a day. The next morning, I pump, and six ounces comes out of one breast in 20 minutes. Not kidding. It worked that fast.
I am not a doctor, or a lactation consultant. I am just telling you all of this so you can ask your doctor/midwife about it- and get the information you need to be prepared after baby is born. Breastfeeding is no walk in the park- so don't expect it to be. I know some women make it look super easy, but if it's their first time- trust me- they don't know what the hell they're doing either. They probably just look good in a baby wrap. People that can pull off the baby wrap look like parenting pros from the get go. If you really want to breastfeed, and your child doesn't have a problem latching on, don't give up. You can do it. It's not as easy as it looks, it requires some work, but keep trying.
And if you can't do it- don't beat yourself up over it.
And if you don't want to do it- so be it.
You get to choose what's best for your baby. That's what being a mom is all about.
The following are some things that helped me with breastfeeding:
Lansinoh HPA Lanolin for Breastfeeding Mothers, 40 Grams
The Lansinoh lanolin is absolutely necessary, and you should even start using it before baby is born. It helps chapped nipples, and you don't have to wipe it off before you feed.
Lansinoh 20435 Breast milk Storage Bags, 25-Count Boxes (Pack of 3)
There are plenty of breast milk storage bags, those are just the ones that I used. And when I switched to formula and had some left over, I used them to heat up formula quickly, by putting the formula in them and submerging them in hot water.
Lansinoh 20265 Disposable Nursing Pads, 60-Count Boxes (Pack of 4)
Your boobs will leak constantly, so make sure you have the breast pads before you leave the hospital.
Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Breast Pump
I registered for this, not thinking I would get it- and I ended up getting it. It is expensive. It also ended up totally being worth it, because I used it every day. If you can get one used for cheaper, do that! You can sterilize all the parts that touch your body and handle milk just by boiling them.
Disclaimer! Anytime you see a link to Amazon for a product on this blog, if you purchase it, I get a commission. But, this is not a sponsored post. I wrote it because I want to help expecting mothers. Also, I will never, ever recommend a product that I haven't used and think is fabulous. I just won't. I am broke, but I'm not a jerk.