Saturday, September 4, 2010

Real Moms Breastfeed

****disclaimer**** The Real Mother's series is not intended to be judgemental, if you're going to feel judged by not doing things the way I do them, close this page right now and we can still be friends. Go ahead there will be no hard feelings. These posts are intended to be a (sometimes humorous) look at my experiences and certain facts I have uncovered about the topics in the series. We are ALL real mothers no matter how we decide to do things. Please refer to this post "A Real Momma is..."  I made to explain some of my viewpoints.
****while I believe breastfeeding is best I also want to point out that I have nothing against moms who formula feed so don't go getting your knickers in a bunch ok. Real mom's do it THEIR way and it's up to them to decide what that way is. The following is just a take on how I see breastfeeding and how it's impacting my life. If you're still reading and not yet offended you have my blessing to carry and hopefully enjoy my point of view.
REAL MOM'S BREASTFEED! (unless they can't)

Yeah you read me right, I said real mom's breastfeed. Too many people in this world, especially where I happen to live, don't understand the real facts on breastfeeding and they don't understand just how difficult (and thus rewarding) it can be. By breastfeeding I don't mean just testing the waters for a couple of weeks though I do commend any mother who even tries at any point in her newborns life to make breastfeeding work. To me breastfeeding means longer than a week or two, at least six weeks with of course 6 or more months being ideal.

What I've learned about breastfeeding is pretty basic in nature. I'm not going to parrot back a lot of facts here, you can find those on your own I think. Do your homework and the numbers don't lie so to speak. I made a list of reasons for or against. The only reasons I could come up with for formula feeding related to my own convenience and not to the health of myself or my son. Looking at it that way I decided it would be selfish for me not to do everything I could to breastfeed for as long as I could. In spite of my difficulties I still feel that way about breastfeeding and I am still working hard to keep it going even though my son now has to eat from a bottle.  Studies have been done and they show that breast milk is best. My take on that is why would I intentionally give my son less than the very best if I could at all help it. That said I think there are a few other things that should be understood so as to understand my real mothers comment.

The first thing I learned, about five minutes into my first attempt with my son, was that breastfeeding is challenging. It doesn't always come naturally and getting started can be really really hard. Think about it and it's a no brainer really. What I mean is that in my case I was traumatized almost to the point of total shut down, I was drugged, and I was sooooooooooo tired and stressed not only from the actual delivery but also from the days leading up to the induction. I was terrified and in shock. Then about an hour after delivery the lactation consultant waltzed her perky self into the recovery room where I was parked awaiting the all clear she isn't going to die from her c-section order and proclaimed it was time to try and get Nicholas to nurse. I peered through shocked bleary eyes at her, "ummmm yay??" She helped me extract one of the girls from the gown I wasn't even aware I was wearing and place my tiny spawn in such a way so as to allow him to latch on. The next thing I remember was the almost overwhelming urge to throw up. I fought panic as I envisioned being the patient the nurses all talked about for years as the lady who puked on her hour old newborn the very first time she held him. The L.C. pulled him off and said we would try again later while my husband fanned me for a moment and the nurses went scrambling for a dose of the Zophram that was to go in my IV if I needed it. Awwww liquid Zofram spelled relief and I am somewhat certain that I was helped to try again but honestly cannot really remember. The next session I remember was sometime around midnight and the very nice nurse was trying desperately to get Nicholas to latch on and eat while I fought desperately to stay awake (and failed). We tried and failed and tried and failed and just kept right on trying while Nicholas was allowed to receive formula from a tube until we finally got it... kinda. Upon arriving home we kept trying and getting better and better at figuring out what to do. I could have given up, a lot of moms do at this point but giving up isn't in my nature. 

In my opinion whoever said breastfeeding was easy was smoking something...

My next lesson in nursing was how painful things were going to get. I began learning this in the hospital as well but it didn't fully sink in until I got home. I experienced pain when I let down and while I didn't get blistered like some women do I did get a little raw. One of my first night time feeding experiences at home was so painful I was ready to give in to a bottle. I was so severely affected with the baby blues and I was so shocked at how it felt to breastfeed that I was in tears and blaming everything from the president down to Adam and Eve for my troubles. Yet, I was also amazingly upset and in tears when my husband jumped up from the bed and declared he was getting a bottle! The look on his poor face when he came back with said bottle to find me curled around Nicholas like I was protecting him from the devil himself while nursing and still sniffling must have been priceless. Again breastfeeding takes dedication. The pain goes away you just have to wait it out. No pain no gain right?

I also leaned all about how annoying issue like leaking can be and how you really do need those little pads for your bra because you never know when the sprinklers might come on and soak your shirt leaving you to explain you are nursing and ummm apparently you were thinking about your baby. When my milk came in I leaked everywhere... all the time. I woke up in the morning SOAKED even though there were pads in my bra. It was crazy. Plus my laundry smelled like sour milk which surprised my husband I am sure and frankly was something I had never even thought about. Go figure. Milky laundry aside the bigger issue was soaking the bed with milk. You don't after all want to sleep in a sour milk bed, or at least I don't.
Related to leaking is one of the big perks of breastfeeding. Engorgement is both somewhat uncomfortable to painful and amazing at the same time. Painful because well you're girls are full of milk to the point that they just might explode. Amazing because they are so full of milk they they just might explode they are perky and standing at attention. I woke up to porn star boobs that morning and as I stood in the bathroom admiring them I wished they weren't so painful. I wanted to keep them and show hubby except that I knew it would hurt if he tried to do anything with them. The soreness didn't stop me though from trying to tease him a little and with comments like OMG baby feel how hard they get when they are full and then when he went to try and feel them I would remind him that they were really sore and to be careful as if they might suddenly pop lol. It was fun for the few days that it lasted but I was glad to be rid of the soreness. 

My most important two lessons of all though are related to each other. One is there are tons of people, including doctors, are ready to step up and give you less than accurate information and TWO there may be little to no support even within your own family or circle of friends for your choice to do what is best nutritionally for your baby. I have heard over and over again from my own mother that she wished I would give up on this breastfeeding nonsense, though she tries to be supportive, or pretends to. You may even be attacked for your choice or ridiculed, be prepared and stand by the facts that you are doing the very best thing you can do. You have to be your own advocate and tell people like it is with the real facts and remind them to zip it. Arm yourself with a good lactation consultant at best and at least visit the kellymom website for tons of good factual info that you will find useful on your journey into nursing. Never ever let a formula mommy tell you that formula is better or it's easier or it's whatever. You aren't taking the easy road, you're taking the one that is likely to have a few bumps along the way but ends up in a better place you hope. Speaking of formula mommies, (whom I have nothing against - remember the opening statements above), many of them tried to breastfeed and for whatever reason were not able to stick with it. They may not have had the needed support, may not have been well educated, or may just have found it to difficult. Whatever the reason many of them struggled with feelings of guilt or failure when they decided to wean and yet knowing how they felt during that time they will still be quick to tell you that using formula isn't the end of the world. "If you can't breastfeed you're still a good mommy". I often wonder if these ladies tell other mothers that to make themselves feel better about their choice to either not breastfeed at all or to stop breastfeeding. Interesting thought, but one I won't explore at the risk of sounding judgemental. I will say though that I find it interesting that on cans of infant formula there is a statement that reads "Breastfeeding is recommend ...." Even formula manufactures are forced to admit their product isn't the best thing for your baby. Amid all of the misinformation, pro formula pushers who want you to wean, and lack of support in general I say that a nursing mother is a warrior of sorts, a survivor and she should be celebrated. As a mother who is being forced closer and closer to weaning by the above mentioned factors I can say I will personally celebrate every one tuffs it out even one day longer than I will.

 Knowing all that I've learned on my breastfeeding journey I feel comfortable in my statement that real mom's breastfeed, (again formula mommies are real mom's too, and good ones at that, a breastfeeding mother though is just something special. People may get tired of hearing you talk about it and want to smack you upside the head. They may be annoyed at your needed to find someplace quiet for you to feed your little one, and they may be put out with the fact that you need to stop and pump at times but you know what they should respect you. It's a lot of work, there can be tears and tons of frustration as well as smiles and tons of joy. The people around you should support and be proud that you are real determined mommy. A nursing mother goes through a lot and has to stick to her guns, how can she be anything but respected for doing so? A lot of the time respect isn't what is given to a nursing mother though and that is sad. I doubt I am respected really by my family, friends, or maybe even my doctor for my determination to breastfeed but I do demand that they at least be respectful to me in person. I don't have an issue telling one of them to zip their poorly informed lips from time to time if I need to. I'm a lot less polite about the issue with friends.

I eventually got over my urge to vomit every time my little one latched on, I eventually got over the pain I felt when I let down, and I cried and I laughed and I got on with life one way or another. My husband forgave my raging hormones and my obsession with my breast pump and we're working on raising our son to the best of our abilities. Considering somebody with my slightly warped mind and viewpoints on the world probably shouldn't have been allowed to have children I think we are doing pretty well. I made a choice and I am going to stick with it because IT IS BEST FOR MY BABY for as long as I possibly can. If at some point it becomes impossible or it is no longer in my son's best interest then I will be forced to stop and I at least will know that I did everything I could to provide the best nutrition on earth for him. I think as long as you can say that to yourself, that you provided the best you could with what you had, you are a real momma.

Links I hope you'll find useful if you're breastfeeding/thinking about breastfeeding and haven't already discovered them or if you're an unsupportive formula mommy who wants to tell me formula is just as good or better or easier or whatever.. here are the facts on that.
Kelly Mom website - almost everything you need to know
La Leche League International


  1. Awesome post! BF definitely has its challenges, especially when learning at the beginning and waiting for the pain to go away over time. But, even after that BF moms still have to deal with the "inconvenience" factor - pumping at work, engorgement, etc. It takes a lot of commitment. Congrats for keeping it up!

  2. I totally agree.
    The whole engorgement thing.. totally true!Now my boobs are just sad!
    It is alot of work but its easier for me actually. It gives me the best satisfaction that i can nourish my baby and she loves it. When she wants me and only me to nurse i just want whoever to give her up. Its my turn! Even though i cant just go out without thinking about her nutrition, i wouldnt give it up!

  3. And.. since mya has started saying boobie.. it just makes me laugh.. she can tell people that she wants boobie and she wants her boobie now!