February 23, 2009

Monday Musings: Breastfeeding

With SoJo closing in upon his first year on this earth, my thoughts have turned to breastfeeding, specifically whether or not I'll be continuing to nurse him after his first birthday. I've had my ups and downs with breastfeeding, especially in the beginning. I was thrilled when he latched on like a pro an hour after his birth. He wanted to be on the boob constantly, and I remember sobbing my first night in the hospital after the nurse brought him in yet again to my room because they couldn't soothe him (without a bottle, of course). I thought, my god, what am I in for? I won't sleep more than an hour at a time for the next few months.

He was voracious in his nursing, often wanting it every hour and staying on the boob for an hour at a time. At his 1 month visit, we found out that he wasn't gaining as he should be and that I needed to think about supplementing with a bottle. Of course this made me so upset, that I wasn't providing enough for him. Despite all the nursing we were doing, I still had a low milk supply. I started giving him a bottle of formula in the evenings after a nursing session, and he seemed so much happier. The poor little guy was hungry! I found a great article on BlogHer called "What if Breast Isn't Best?" that really made me think differently about this whole issue.

My low milk supply made me crazed over the first 6 months. I kept worrying that SoJo wasn't getting enough to eat, and also if I hadn't nursed or pumped in 3 hours that my supply would go down even more. These were the times when I hated nursing (well, to be honest, those first few months were bad at times too, having to be the sole provider of nourshment, no matter what time of day or night). I hated not being able to go out for a few hours for fear of damaging my milk supply. And having to get up at 4am to pump because the baby was sleeping through the night and I didn't want my supply to go down. Ugh!

Those times I kept saying to myself, if I can just make it to the 3 month point, then the 6 month point, then a year, I'll be ok about stopping. Well here it is nearly a year and I can't believe how much I enjoy it! I think when SoJo started eating solids, I was more relaxed about nursing, knowing he was getting calories elsewhere in addition to my milk. I think not having so much pressure about my milk supply actually made it go up. Weird, huh?

When I was pregnant, I planned on nursing for at least a year, but now I'm thinking I might go beyond, assuming SoJo still wants to "nursey-nurse" (he actually knows what that means now, and jumps up and down when I ask him if he wants to do it). Some of it is that I have some misgivings about giving SoJo cow's milk, since in my mind it's a little weird to be drinking milk from another animal (even though I occassionally eat cheese and dairy), especially since I can give him my milk. But often pediatricians and "experts" frown upon nursing beyond a year (not that I care what they think).

So that's my breastfeeding story. What about you? Did you nurse your child? Why/why not (of course this is not meant as a judgment)? Did you have challenges or doubts? How long did you nurse for? Would you nurse again if you had the chance? I really want to hear your stories!

13 comments:

  1. I could write a BOOK about my challenges with nursing!!!

    As you know, poor Bootsie Baby was in the NICU for a while after she was born. Although I was pumping anf taking milk to the hospital around the clock, she had to be fed (my milk) from a bottle, to ensure that she was getting enough fluid to help her dysfunctional kidneys. She's a bit of a lazy person by nature, which I first began to discover when she wouldn't make the effort to learn to breastfeed. To make an extremely long story short, I had to break her like a wild horse to get her to nurse when she came home!!

    While Sweet Pea LOVED nursing, I was not able to maintain lactation beyond 4.5 months with either girl. Apparently, the same thing happened to my mother, so I don't think it's something I was doing wrong; just faulty milk production I suppose. :)

    I had planned to nurse all of my children for a year, but seeing as that has not happened yet, I plan to nurse the new one as long as possible. I don't blame you for not wanting to stop...I know I didn't!!

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  2. Oh my...I've had my share of breastfeeding challenges AND triumphs. My 15 month old still has his boobies. Some days I hate it. Some days I love it. Usually when I'm having a day of "I can't take it anymore" by morning I'm renewed and think, "thank god I didn't give up".

    My son had major latch issues in the beginning which left me with red, raw, blistered nipples. Then we both were lucky enough to get thrush 3 times (or was it 4??) We worked through all of that and here we are.

    I still get sore nips once in a while because nursing a rough and gruff busy as ever toddler boy, it's hard. He does acrobats on my boobs.

    My goal was to breastfeed for at least 2 years and we're well on our way!

    Horray for boobies!

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  3. In the beginning I had mixed emotions. First she hurt me, a lot. My LC said she was "an aggressive clencher" as far as her latch went. So it took some time, but her clenching eventually stopped. I supplemented a little at her doctor's rec. to clear out her jaundice until my milk came in but that was it. My MIL kept suggesting I give her formula instead of breastfeeding her so she could babysit. Nope.

    We've been through thrush, clogged ducts, bad latches, biting {yowza}, and even torn {and I mean TORN} nipples. But we're still going strong!!

    I can't pump for the life of me, really. She's a reverse cycler, so she eats more during the night anyway and refuses a bottle. Which doesn't bother me any. It just makes for interesting date nights.

    In the beginning my goal was to hit the 1 year mark. I know we'll get there. Then, like you I'll be at a crossroads. Currently breastmilk is still her primary source of nutrition. She "eats dinner" with us, the rest is all me. I've read so much about the benefits of extended breastfeeding, I'm just not sure how we'll go about it.

    http://www.llli.org/NB/NBextended.html
    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html

    P.S I have taken a few photos of us nursing before, I think they're beautiful. I've thought about making a photobook of them, but I'm not sure if the company would print them...

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  4. You know...and the breastfeeding gals will probably jump me for this...College Girl is a breast-fed baby. Sickly, scrawny, allergies. The Wild One is a bottle-fed baby. Tall, strong, has been sick about twice in 18 years. You tell me...which is best?

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  5. (((((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))))

    You will choose what is best for both of you.

    My story is short and sweet. I could not breastfeed any of my children since my medications went directly into my breast milk and would not have been good for the guys.

    My oldest gave up his bottle around 2 1/2 (I did not want to try and make him give it up while I was in hospital for so long and then with the new babies) and when the twins turned a year, I took the bottles away.

    Not helpful at all.

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  6. I sooooo love nursing my dazzling son, Dylan Orion. And.....don't laugh, but I call him my LUSCIOUSLY VORACIOUS MILKY MONSTER because he loves to nurse with wild abandon! Nursing is the most amazing communication I've ever experienced with another being before. It's magical! : )))

    LOL (Lots Of Love),
    Leah (BFing MAMA to 16 month old Dylan Orion.....29 September 2007).

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  7. I love the picture. It's sweet and also harried... kind of the way I felt about nursing...

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  8. Seriously, breastfeeding was a nightmare for me. I'm not even going to go into all the things that went wrong and my love/hate relationship with the pump. I finally had to give it up to remain sane... but you would not believe the guilt!

    The second time I decided to do what was best for me and my baby. Bottle all the way, and he is healthy as a horse.

    You do the best you can, and that's ok.

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  9. My first little love, we nursed for 9 months, until he bit me and then LAUGHED... Yeah, that sums up my little big man... (-; the second one I was determined to nurse for longer, since I learned with the first one how expensive formula is! So my goal was to get past the point where he could drink whole cow's milk. I nursed for as long as he wanted to - 15 months. It was just a very, very natural transition. When he quit wanting to nurse, we quit. Much less turmoil than with the forced weaning! Just my two cents... I would have gone longer though, if he had wanted to. At the end, he just wanted to suck long enough to get the milk flowing, then he was done. And he wanted to do that about 400 times a day. It was kind of frusterating, really. When he quit, it was fine with both of us. Good luck! (-:

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  10. With each of my children (oh, and my twins) I nursed for a year. I loved it and luckily it came easy for all of us. I always quit at a year because I was ready for my body back and a break. But if you are just getting into the groove and enjoying it there is nothing wrong with going longer! It's up to you and your son, and don't let anyone make you feel bad.

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  11. I nursed DS1 for exactly a year. I had the same concerns as you about my milk supply. It took a good 3 weeks or so til my milk supply was enough to meet his demand, and I found the more I worried about my milk supply the more it affected my supply. I just tried to get plenty of rest, eat healthy, and drink lots of water. When he was 3 mos I went back to work & pumped 2x a day, and when he started solids my supply dropped dramatically, but I was able to manage to continue til he turned one.

    With DS2, I plan to nurse for a year again, and I find that unlike w/DS1, I'm not as worried about my supply. In the beginning I was, but now I'm not...maybe it's just easier this time around (and the fact I'm working only PT casual helps).

    I am fortunate that both my sons were able to latch on fairly quickly and I'm able to nurse them. I know for some moms it's hard for various reasons and I find nothing wrong with supplementing or using formula only (in fact, for both boys we had to supplement in the first couple of weeks because of jaundice).

    Every mom is different, every baby is different, every situation is different.

    For me personally, nursing was/is my choice and I love every moment of it...plus it's free =).

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  12. Our story was our own. When my son was born, he could pack away 3 ounces (right away--fresh out the womb), great eater! But, I was producing 3-4 drops those first days, so we supplemented, I gave in to his constant cries of hunger because I knew he could eat so much more than I could provide. I still stayed with it though. I had tons of problems...my son wanted to look around at everything with me in his mouth, he would nurse until it finally let down and then want to stop (right when I didn't want him to stop) and i would try to wrestle him to stay with it (but no luck), anyhow it messed up my supply.... by 3 months he had 2 teeth and was a biter. I admit, I gave up. Part of me was sad, but part of me was less bruised and felt a little free(to have my boobs back to myself instead of feeling like an all-night diner).....it is always a personal commitment and experience. The only thing I disliked was being judged. I was glad to give him the immunity boost of those 3 months......as a mom you always do the best you can under your circumstances.....and the rest you fake your way through! I will admit it, I'm not scared!
    ;)

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  13. I nursed my son for about 6 months. He weaned himself but luckily I had pumped and stored enough to get him through to about 9 months.

    My daughter had a milk protein allergy (at least) and it seemed everything I ate bothered her BADLY. So after a couple of months of screaming and rashes (and seemingly not latching on and being constantly hungry), we switched to a hypoallergenic formula and she was fine ever since.

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