It's exhausting, dudes.
So, mostly I try to avoid the mommy drama. Especially on the internet! I say, if you're doing what you can to make your baby the healthiest he or she can be, that's all anyone can ask. No judgement here.
I decided, a long time ago, that I wanted to breastfeed. I knew it was going to be tough, but I insisted to myself that it was the way. I wouldn't take no for an answer. After my experience having Lala, however, I was worried that I had been too steadfast about this particular thing. That there was no way I could have what I wanted in this arena. But I was wrong. My steadfast insistence proved one of my greatest allies in my attempts to breastfeed.
That is the biggest piece of advice I can give: you have to WANT it. There were times that it was harder than anything I'd ever done before. Times when I was exhausted beyond belief, or just wanted a minute completely to myself, or suffering discomfort from too much nursing or not enough nursing.
Really, though, breastfeeding came easily to me. That sounds like a brag but it's more like a wonder. I did a fair amount of research online and in books but not as much as I thought I would. Not nearly as much I researched anything else, and not near enough to realize that some days I would be spending close to five hours physically connected to another person. I attribute my success mostly to Lala. She's a good breastfeeder Her latch is great, her focus is pretty reliable and she doesn't get too hungry before she asks (my words, haha).
|Breastfeeding while laying on my side works the best for Lala and I. It took me way too long to figure that one out.|
This post comes towards what may be the end of my breastfeeding sojourn. My initial goal was six months. But here we are at eight, still doing alright. I'm trying to make it to a year. Lala wants more and more "people food" as she gets bigger and with her four teeth (top and bottom incisors), biting has become incredibly painful. I'm trying to hold out. I enjoy our time together so much. It's so intimate and dreamy. And, if I'm completely honest, the extra three hundred or so calories a day I get to eat is pretty nice.
So, here are my suggestions for successful breastfeeding, in list format, because that's how I roll.
- Get a support group. If you have a partner, they can be a great asset. When I was head-lolling tired, my mom and Bard supported me, helped me the best that they could. With their support, I felt like I could continue even when all else felt lost. I also had the number of a great lactation consultant. You can usually get this through your hospital. We didn't even have to ask. There are also tons of great online resources. But I was careful where I tread. La Leche League International is a great resource but they stray into the political too much for my purposes (I'm a little conflict phobic, I think).
- Research. A little. Don't go crazy, but it's nice to have the general idea of what has worked for others in the past. It gives you a little arsenal of things to try in the event (and it happened to me) that what your baby has been happily doing for months suddenly doesn't work.
- Trust your instincts. Every baby and every mom are different. What may work for someone else, or some other baby, may not work for you and that's cool.
- Balance research with your instincts and don't be afraid to play detective. When Lala was still very new, she was having serious issues with gas. You could hear her belly, and (gross alert!) her poops were explosive and green. She was unhappy a lot of the time. I had a doctor tell me that it was pretty normal, but I wasn't happy with that answer. So I did some research and discovered that it might be a number of things with my breastfeeding technique. So I made a number of changes and it really helped. My favorite resource in this endeavor was http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/. A collection of really sound and simple advice.
- Invest in some good nursing foundations. Especially if you go back to work. Pumping in a regular bra sucks! Also, my favorite article of clothing right this moment is a mid-length nursing gown my mom bought me when I was in the hospital. It's cool enough for summer, short enough to wear pants for winter, not terribly ugly and crazy convenient.
- Drink lots of water and try not to stress out too much. Of all the things that supposedly impede milk production, these are the two that I have noticed pretty much kill it for me.
- Room in, at least at first. Lala, I have told you, is a terrible sleeper. I can only imagine trying to drag myself down the hall two or three (sometimes four!) times a night to feed her. That she was at the foot of our bed in her cradle and then her crib was a godsend on those early late nights where she needed to be fed-NOW.
- If all else fails, formula won't kill them. There are people who would argue this point with me. Lala's had probably three formula feedings and it didn't inhibit her taste for breastmilk. My production didn't flag any more than normal day-to-day fluctuations. If you want to breastfeed almost exclusively, all you need to do is make sure it doesn't become a habit.
It is my hope that my meandering experience may do someone good. And if it doesn't, that's okay too. Maybe if/when I have another baby in four or five years, I'll be able to help myself.