So, this is going to be a long post. I will likely post in segments. Before you read this though, please know that everyone’s experience is different, and everyone has different problems and experiences along the way. Some women find it to be incredibly natural and encounter no problems (lucky bitches), while others encounter situations that make them wish they had formula fed from the start. My story has a little bit of both. Rough start, but thankful that I fought the good fight.
My husband was actually the one who talked me into breastfeeding. I was still pregnant, and he claimed to have researched all of the benefits to breastfeeding. I was shocked that he had done his homework, but also annoyed because I had already decided that I wanted to use formula with Kenzie. This way, more than one person could feed her. She wouldn’t be strictly dependent on me. I didn’t want my mom, or the babysitter eventually, to have problems feeding her from a bottle because she just wanted me.
Ultimately, I started reading more into it to humor him, but before I could read much of anything, aside from a Breastfeeding Blog which actually scared me more than appealed to me, I went into labor a month early. I didn’t really have enough time to make an informed decision. While we were checking in at the hospital, they were running through a myriad of questions…one of them being “Do you plan to breastfeed or formula feed, and if formula, choose the type you would like us to feed the baby?”…Well shit… I needed to make a decision immediately. I figured, why not go for it? Maybe it will be as easy as everyone says, or it will be as difficult as everyone says and then we will just switch to formula on day two. It was the least of my worries at that point – I was so scared that I had gone into labor early and I just wanted to make sure she was healthy and not having to stay in the NICU.
So, I decided that we would make a go of it. If it didn’t work out, I would just switch to the formula. Easy enough.
After she was born and they weighed/ measured, checked her lungs, skin-to-skin, and grandparents came in briefly, it was time to try breastfeeding. NOTE: If you are breastfeeding and you plan to have visitors in the labor/ delivery room or in the mother/ baby room after they move you, maybe just plan on trying to be comfortable being topless as much as possible. Babies get hungry VERY quickly and VERY often, even though they don’t need much. My point is, you have to be ready to rip the top part of your gown off and attempt to feed your babe at a moment’s notice. You may also want to practice kicking everyone out without feeling bad. Don’t worry about guests – most hospitals have really nice cafeterias and lobby areas for your fam when you kick their asses out. Chances are, they want a break anyhow (just being honest).
So here was my first experience with the lactation consultant (most of them suck, even though they really are trying to be helpful): I held my breath, positioned her with a little bit of help from the nurse, and waited for the magic to happen. She did try to nurse briefly (like for seconds), but I think there was too much commotion at the time, so I just kept holding her and re-positioning her and she flailed about. There was a lot of going back and forth shortly after delivery where I would try feeding her, then she would fall asleep, they needed to check me, etc. It wasn’t until they moved me to the mother/ baby floor that the lactation consultants really started working with us for more than a few minutes at a time (I think this was because they wanted to make sure I wasn’t starving my child – they have a really good way of making you feel like you are already a bad parent in those first few days).
So we moved to the 4th floor, into a smaller room (I liked the labor/ delivery room best), and the nurse said right before she left us, “Okay, let me know when you are ready to pee for the first time, and I will be back!” Oh cool. Just what I wanted. Someone to help me pee.
Some information I was not aware of (since I read nothing ahead of time): You basically have to “wait for your milk to come in” after you have your baby. Somehow, your body knows when to do this after delivery. Before your milk comes in, you produce something called colostrum. It is like this super special kind of milk that is filled with super nutrients from your body that your babe needs early on. Since it is so highly concentrated, your babe only needs a tiny little bit per feeding, which would have been nice to know up front (when I also thought I was starving my babe). See here for a great explanation from La Leche League, and also has a great reference to how big a newborn’s stomach is and how much/ milk the babe needs as time goes on (it’s actually quite amazing): Colostrum Info **Once you start pumping, if you plan to pump early on and see that you have some colostrum, SAVE AND FREEZE THIS!! This is something awesome to have on hand for when your babe gets his/ her first cold or sickness. Those same nutrients are saved in the colostrum and help to kick the sickness out of your babe 🙂 It was something I was very thankful for.
Now, the nurses/ lactation consultants decided that I should try to pump a little to try to get things going/ make sure baby girl was getting something. Another note: YOUR BABY’S STRENGTH TO GET MILK OUT OF YOU WILL ALWAYS BE STRONGER THAN ANY BREAST PUMP. Just because you aren’t seeing a great deal of output from the pump DOES NOT MEAN that your babe is going hungry.
So, I sat with the pump, one side at a time, 20 minutes each side while sitting in the hospital bed (messing with the levels each time, making it work harder, etc). I thought it was pretty freaking pointless, since nothing came out the whole time. But looking back, maybe it did help to move things along a little bit. For the record, I didn’t start REALLY pumping until a few weeks PP (postpartum).
Good start…more to follow. And also coming soon: Bullshit Baby Registry Items.