Thursday, July 7, 2011
Living with your boobs out
Before I even begin to tell all you avid readers and followers about my adventures and give advice on this very talkable subject, I strongly advise you and your significant other to discuss this topic. You might find out you feel completely different or similar. In the end, the decision is what is best for the mother and her baby. Nursing is not easy. I am not even going to pretend and say it is. Is it wonderful for the mother and her baby for bonding and alone time, yes. Does it help you lose weight, yes. Is it what is best for the baby’s health and development, yes. Does it hurt like hell, yes. Can your baby refuse you, yes. Is it a commitment, YES.
I tell all my pregnant friends that this decision, to nurse or not to nurse MUST be made before you give birth. It is not something you say you are going to try and give up on after two times. It is a commitment. I truly believe you must give it one hundred and ten percent. I had no idea it was so difficult. My major issues were pain and production.
First of all, while in the hospital, if you have decided to nurse your baby, get all the help you can get. Nurses, doctors, lactation consultants, volunteers, etc. First of all, lactation consultants are wonderful, but they are quite opinionated, “Breast milk all the way!” It is as though they are cheerleaders and have those little bootie shorts on their butts that say "boobies" across their butt cheeks. They believe in that option only and will advise in such a way as well. They can help you analyze how your baby is latching on and if it is correct for optimum nursing time, give you schedules to follow, help you with any pain or production issues, etc.
Personally nursing was very painful for me to begin. Definitely begin using the Lamisol cream on your nipples about a month before you intend to give birth to prepare yourself and your breasts for their important purpose. My son latched on very well and no one could fault him. He often tucked his bottom lip which should not be tucked, but he had a very forceful suck. It was painful and I ended up with cracked and bleeding nipples. There is nothing like your baby pulling off you with your blood running down their little face. It is quite barbaric looking. The pain got worse and worse. I cried through feedings which were lasting almost an hour. Within a week I was quite engorged and the pain was so great, I had to go back to the hospital.
I sat in the hospital I had just come home from, bare-chested, nursing my son while the consultants watched and I cried. He nursed for some time and I still had no relief. My son took an ounce and a half and then they pumped almost another four ounces out of me. During this time, I nursed, I sat with hot towels on my boobs, I used silicone nipple coverings for protection, I sat with ice on my boobs, I drank water, everything. Luckily it helped and I could get back to nursing, but my boobs were already damaged and it took some time for the pain and injuries to go away.
During this time I used silicone nipples for protection which luckily my son adjusted to and then unadjusted to. The next issue was production. I was never engorged again. I never leaked. I could get into a burning hot shower and nothing happened. I could never pump again besides the one time in the hospital. I nursed until he was done and was soft as anything. Then I would be back at it almost an hour and a half later. Newborns should be fed every 2-3 hours, yet Max(that's my first son, by the way) was taking almost an hour to eat, so I did not have much time between feedings to produce more. I felt like I should just walk around topless. When Max wasn’t gaining weight, I had to start supplementing with formula.
Many times through the pain and lack of production, my husband hinted for me to stop nursing, but I wouldn’t. This was what I wanted to do and I did it. One of the reasons I took off the year was to nurse. I know I would have to stop before going back to work, but that wasn’t any time soon so I kept going and it got much much easier. As your child eats more, they will nurse less. I would give Max one bottle a day just to give me a break and get him used to a bottle with formula since I could not pump.
Besides, I liked my guaranteed alone time.
Now with number two, Charlie, it is only slightly different, but not much. Charlie barely nurses for 15 minutes at a time. I must say this has been nice compared to sitting for almost an hour, especially now that Max is 20 months his older brother and everywhere. The hard part is that I am now feeding on demand and not so much a schedule during the day. Charlie is still working it out and I am living in my nursing bras again. It must be working though - he is already 3 pounds heavier than at birth, grown 3 inches, and in 3 month clothes. Yikes.
And I cannot pump again ... grrr.
July 7th, 2011