Saturday, March 23, 2013

AP Our Way: Breastfeeding

Often times: I second guess myself, I worry...I worry some more which leads to panic, I doubt my abilities, and I lack the ability to make a simple decision. But with all the self doubt clouding my judgement, one confident decision I made has subsequently changed my life forever.

**I WILL breastfeed my daughter.**

I researched, read books, and watched countless video tutorials (BOOBIES!! J/K I'm totally a visual/  kinesthetic learner-- smacked you real quick with my teacher lingo).  I needed the books and videos because I did not have anyone in real life to ask for advice from. My mom and grandmothers did not nurse. I was the first of my sisters to get married and have a baby.  Only a few of my close friends were married, and none of them were even thinking about birthing and lactating. Everyone that I talked to about nursing always used the verb *tried*. I didn't want to try.

I knew it was the right choice for our family, and was ready to put up the personal fight to make it happen. It was a spiritual journey for me, and I wish I had started this blog before my pregnancy-- really just so I could look back and laugh at my transformation.

Transformation #1-- choosing to breastfed in general. I was "that girl" that thought breastfeeding was gross. It made me uncomfortable; it made me cringe. I had not grown up with learning about nursing. All my baby dolls had pacifiers and bottles. I had a boyfriend in high school that had a mom that was still nursing her toddler, and I seriously thought it was absurd (give that baby a fork and a spoon). I knew nothing, and was not interested in enlightening myself.

I have two specific memories from my early adult years that I now, when I think back and remember, I cringe for different reasons... I cringe out of embarrassment for my lack of knowledge at the time.
  1. I was in college, and while shopping I saw a mother nursing her child. She was on an aisle by herself, but for some reason I was bothered when I saw her breastfeeding. I can't wrap my head around why other than to think that it was due to my lack of knowledge and judgmental attitude. I never said anything to her, but I did judge her. Now I wonder how many people judge me when they see me nursing in public. I hope they are blessed enough to "learn" about the wonders of breastfeeding one day, too.
  2. My husband and I were in Mass with our family when I noticed a new mom wearing a nursing cover and breastfeeding not far from us. I was confused-- why not just give the baby a bottle? All I could think about was that this woman had her boob out in church! Now, when I see scantly clad teenagers in Mass, I often think back to that mom... why was I sexualizing her desire to nourish her child?
One day while on Facebook (way before the thought of Doodle Bug entered our minds) a friend of ours posted a picture of her toddler's first solids feeding. She mashed up avocado with breast milk, and took pictures of the mess her cutie made trying to "eat" the new food. I.WAS.APPALLED. I told my husband that day that I hoped he didn't expect me to breastfeed-- because it was not NEVER going to happen. Never say never, right??

The transformation began when, in my first trimester, I started thinking about where the hell we would keep all of the baby junk that would be needed to raise our child (later I realized most of this "junk" was senseless and useless, and  that expert marketing advertisements try to make the first time parent believe they CAN'T survive parenting without stuff). Our house was built in the 1940s and is about 1200 square feet. We have three small bedrooms, one tiny bathroom, and a kitchen that's about 100 sf. The answer was: we have no room for bottle/ formula storage.

Then I started to think about waking in the middle of the night to feed. Did I really want to walk to the kitchen, make the bottle, warm the bottle, feed the now WIDE awake infant, and then TRY to get said infant back to sleep, while trying to make sure I had enough sleep to teach 100 students each day? The answer was: no HELL NO.

Okay, so I was going to breastfeed, and since I knew nothing at all, I had to hit the books (and the web) hard.

I became engulfed in the literature. I was amazed-- the science of breastfeeding still awes me to this day. I was learning, and through the knowledge I gained I started my transformation to mother-- mind, body, and soul.

Cool facts that I learned about breastfeeding from WHO:
Did you know (because I certainly didn't):
  1. BM contains antibodies that protects the newborn/infant/toddler from common childhood illnesses that increase child mortality worldwide.
  2. BFing can act as natural family planning (a natural form of birth control). Your body prevents itself from getting pregnant in those first few months in order to protect the newborn's nutritional needs.
  3. BFing can decrease mom's chance of getting breast cancer and ovarian cancer. 
  4. BM lowers the chance of childhood obesity. 
  5. Adults who were breastfed as babies often have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of overweight, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
  6. There is evidence that people who were breastfed perform better in intelligence tests.
 I mean, after reading all that, how could I still say "no"?

My passion to have a successful breastfeeding relationship led me to question my ability to birth, and resulted in a scheduled C-Section. You can read more about my daughter's birth in a prior post. In recovery she was placed in my arms, and I was instructed by the recovery nurse to "stick it out." She advised me that "the first two weeks were the worst," and that I would be happy later when I stuck it out. I am so glad she told me this... because those first two weeks were worse than I had ever expected!

I kept my daughter at the breast anytime she was awake. I was cracked, sore, and bleeding by the end of the first week. I had to firmly grasp the side of my glider and bite down on my giant straw every time she latched. It. was. miserable. My husband was amazing-- he made appointments with the lactation consultants, drove us to the appointments, and even called my OB/GYN when we realized that I was having severe PPA. I seriously don't know if I would have been able to "stick out" those first few weeks without his love and support. By week two, just as the nurse had suggested, Doodle Bug and I were both starting to get the hang of it. I didn't expect the journey to be so difficult. I didn't realize it was a learning process for both mother AND baby... as a matter of fact, just the other day when Doodle Bug accidentally bit down while nursing and talking I had to remind myself that it is STILL a learning process. Isn't that parenthood in general though?

What I love about breastfeeding: 
  1. I love that my body (pretty much exclusively) was able to sustain the life of my child for the first year of life.
  2. I love that my daughter has been completely healthy for the first 21 months of her life.
  3. I love that when I now see a mom nursing her baby my heart overflows with the love I feel for my child.
  4. I love that we were able to easily travel with her (milk on tap!)
  5. I love that when she falls down, scratches her knee, gets scared, etc I can easily comfort her. 
  6. I love that she intuitively knows how to increase/ alter my milk supply to fit her nutritional needs (this STILL amazes me).
  7. I love that when I was exhausted due to the job of nursing a wiggly toddler (she was about 16 months old) she climbed down off me and the couch went to go play, but hesitated and turned back around and said "tank choo, mama."
  8. I love that she giggles now when after a long day of mom working all day we are finally able to sit down on the couch to nurse.
  9. I love when I hear her trying to hum a tune while nursing and tracing her finger on my chest making little shapes. 
  10. I love the confidence in myself, my body, and my decisions this amazing breastfeeding relationship has provided me.
** what don't I love?? THE PUMP. That thing can die. twice. 11 months of pumping multiple times a day while at work... THAT is exhausting! I have an insane amount of respect for moms that exclusively pump!**

Oh, and biting and hair pulling, too-- those are no fun as well.  

 I am so happy with my decision, and I love advocating for breastfeeding. I started up my Lactation Cookie Company in January so that I could help other moms that might have been in the same boat as me-- wanting to nurse, and reaching out for help from those around them.

I truly believe that breastfeeding has made me a more confident woman, and subsequently a confident mother.

Now I better go get some rest... my toddler will be up for her midnight snack in just a few short hours :) Our philosophy? When the baby cries... Feed it-- that's our approach to AP and BFing. No need for a schedule. She lets us know when she is hungry, tired, needs to be changed, wants to be held... we are just here to follow her cues.

No comments:

Post a Comment