In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I am going to try to post something breastfeeding related each day. Today I am going to start with mine and Munchkin’s breastfeeding experience.
Before Munchkin arrived, I tried to prepare myself as best I could. I read a bunch of pregnancy books and went to a birthing class. I read a breastfeeding book and attended a class. Hubby and I discussed our parenting philosophies and we were pretty much on the same page. We didn’t see anything wrong with “cry it out” or spanking because that’s how our parents did it. Our children were never going to sleep in bed with us. . . Of course that all went out the window as soon as Munchkin made it earthside. There was no way in hell I was letting this precious little baby cry it out or sleep by himself.
I can’t remember exactly what made me decide to breastfeed. My sisters and I weren’t breastfed and didn’t know anyone who did. It was just something I was going to do because it was healthy for the baby and it was free. 😉
While at the hospital, Munchkin seemed to be nursing well. He was producing wet and messy diapers. They sent us home Christmas day(Thursday). The following day I woke up to incredibly swollen breasts. My milk had come in over night. Munchkin would not nurse. He’d throw himself back away from my breasts screaming. It was awful. I called the dr’s office to make an appointment for Munchkin. I told them he wasn’t nursing and he hadn’t had a poopy diaper since we got home. They said it was fine!? I had to insist on a Saturday morning appointment. When I went in, the pediatrician who saw Munchkin(not the one we were going to see on a regular basis) freaked because he had lost too much weight. He freaked us out and sent us back to the hospital. I won’t get into the details (you can read them here), but it was a very traumatic 4 days for everyone. We didn’t get much support in the breastfeeding department. We did have a very nice hospital lactation consultant, but she had other patients to see and couldn’t devote much time to us. She did get us a pump and showed me how to use it.
Once we got home, I tried and tried to get Munchkin to latch and for a while the only way he would latch is if he was half asleep. This was only on occasion and eventually he stopped doing that too. I became an exclusive pumper. I hated it. I was determined to give Munchkin breast milk though so I stuck it out. I made it to 16 months and then my supply dried up, which I later found out was due to the fact that I had become pregnant. 🙂
I wouldn’t have made it all those months without the support of my husband. He really was great through the whole ordeal. The first 6 weeks I was in agony every time I pumped. My nipples were cracked and sore. The first 12 weeks, I pumped every 2 hours around the clock. Then I went to every 3 -4 hours. I pumped and pumped and pumped. . . Some days it felt like that is all I did. I struggled to keep my supply up. I had to supplement with formula for the first 2 months. You know the expression “Don’t cry over spilled milk”? Well I definitely cried when I spilled, which did happen a few times. I worked so hard to pump what I could.
Somewhere in there I discovered hands free pumping. I was finally able to interact with Munchkin while I pumped. I could also eat, drink, use the computer, well you get the idea. This also resulted in my supply increasing. I was able to relax while I pumped and I wasn’t sitting there watching the clock.
I found a Yahoo! group called Pump Moms. They were an incredible resource for me. I learned so much from those women. One of my favorite things I learned about is a fantastic book called Mother Food by Hilary Jacobson. It is all about diet, herbs and lactation and your health. I absorbed so much information from that book and highly recommend it to any breastfeeding mama.
I finally joined La Leche League when Munchkin was 10 months old. I think that is my only regret, that I didn’t join them sooner. Like waaay sooner. I wish I had joined before Munchkin had been born. Then I would have had a support system when I ran into problems. Hindsight is 20/20 right?
The up side to all of this is that I learned an amazing amount of information about lactation, supply, breastfeeding and all the issues that can go along with it. It made me want to pursue becoming a La Leche League leader and a lactation consultant. I want to be able to help other women breastfeed whether they can afford it or not. So this is the next task on my list.