Give that baby the breast!

I want to start off by saying that yes, there are reasons why a mother cannot breastfeed. There are some people who have medical reasons for not being able to breastfeed, these people should not be made to feel bad for not breastfeeding, it's not their fault. If they wanted to breastfeed and they can't then they are probably already devastated. Another reason that is ok in my eyes for not breastfeeding is postpartum depression. Breastfeeding can be hard at first, and without the right support it can become so overwhelming. It's hard to understand if you have never had postpartum depression, but some women need to stop breastfeeding in order to start their recovery. These women also feel bad as it is, they don't need people making them feel worse. I think that formula should be a "last resort". There are other options out there. There are milk banks where you can get breastmilk from a donor. They pasteurize all breastmilk, so some of the antibodies and nutrients will be lacking, but it's still better for baby.
I do think that everyone should try to breastfeed. It's natural, it's beautiful, it's one of the best things that you can do for your baby, so why wouldn't you want to try? 
I think that some women don't try or continue breastfeeding because of a lack of support. I had cracked and bleeding nipples for about a week. Every time Elijah would latch on it would hurt so bad, it even brought tears to my eyes a few times. I had to brace myself and do breathing exercises. I knew it wasn't his latch, he had a perfect latch from the minute he started nursing, but my nipples were being used in a way they had never been used before, and they were being used about 12+ times per day for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes at a time. Then, as soon as my nipples healed, it didn't hurt anymore, but then I got mastitis. I still breastfed through it all, I was determined and I never once thought that I wanted to stop, because I didn't. No matter how much it hurt or what happened, I was going to breastfeed my baby. Now breastfeeding is one of my favorite things to do. It's such a wonderful bonding experience. Elijah stares at me lovingly while he's nursing, and sometimes he even stops for a second to laugh. It melts my heart. I'm going to nurse as long as Elijah wants it, even if he wants it until he's 3. Not all women will experience breastfeeding the way that I did, and I can understand why some women just want to give up, but instead of give up women should get help. 

Breastfeeding Support
La Leche League  - Not only does their website have a forum and tons of resources, but they have meetings all over the place. You will find a ton of support at these meetings, and you will be able to ask any questions, get help with any problems you might be having, or just sit and talk with other mamas!

Dr. Jack Newman has a wonderful website. I used his website when I was researching surgery and breastfeeding, and also when I was determining whether I could continue breastfeeding if I was to do the interferon treatment for cancer (and you can breastfeed on interferon! I decided not to do the interferon treatment anyway)

Kellymom - I spent a good chunk of the first few weeks of Elijah's life on Kellymom. They have everything that you want or need to know about breastfeeding. Bookmark it!

Find an IBLCE certified lactation consultant. I had an entire list of lc's before I gave birth. It's a good thing to have on hand in case you need it.

Read, read, read! One of the best books I read was The Breastfeeding Book by Dr. Sears. Dr. Jack Newman also has a wide variety of books on breastfeeding that you can find here.

Be prepared. This is one thing I could have done better. I was prepared in the sense that I had gotten a Boppy at my baby shower, read books, and had a list of lactation consultants ready, but I did not have some necessary items! Lanolin (or any natural nipple cream). Seriously, you want this. I still use my tube of lanolin for everything from chapped lips and skin to lanolizing my wool diaper covers. I mentioned it before in my must haves for new moms post, but the Earth Mama Angel Baby Breastfeeding Support Kit will be your most prized possession in the first few weeks of your baby's life. You should also be prepared by understanding that breastfeeding is not always easy and that you might need help. If you are having trouble it doesn't mean you are a failure, not only is it new to you, but it's new to your baby, so you're both learning how to do something new at the same time! You can do it, and the hard weeks will end.

No artificial nipples for the first 6-8 weeks. Nipple confusion doesn't always happen, but it does happen, and having to overcome that obstacle is kind of like taking two steps back for every one step forward. If your baby loves to suck and you can't let him suck on your nipple anymore, try your finger. Elijah loved my finger! It was the best soothing device (besides myself)!



Beccalynn said...

I agree! However, my lactation consultant said we needed to introduce a bottle by 3-4 weeks if we wanted oru daughter to ever use a bottle successfully. I would have preferred she NEVEr have a bottle touch those precious lips but since I work part time, I pump and she has to have 1-2 feedings a day. At 3 weeks we introduced the bottle and it took about a week for her to take it--a tough week! She might have had some nipple confusion there for a while, but I don't know. We just persisted with both and if she was having trouble with one or the other, we gave it to her anyway til she got it.

She's now five, almost six months old and she is very successful with both, though she'll only take about as much of the bottle as she absolutely needs when I'm gone for about 4 hours every day and she'll hold off for the rest from me. I like it that way :-)

But about the persistence, breastfeeding is all about persistence. And if you have to introduce a bottle, that is all about persistence as well.

Great photo, btw!

TheGirl said...

This is a great post. I am always thinking that i should post about breastfeeding and then remember that i have already done so several times :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! I loved breasfeeding, but it wasn't always easy, when my daughter was seven weeks old, I had to go back to work full time. I was pumping 3 x a day at work and sometimes when I came home from work too. For me, I always had the mindset that I didn't have an option. I was always so inspired by the adoptive moms in my LLL group who chose to breastfeed, although they had to supplement using an SNS at first they were so determined to breastfeed their children. Looking at them I figured if they were able to breastfeed then I could definately make it work.

kristin said...

I am one of the rare cases of moms who truly doesn't make enough milk. I tried from the moment my daughter was born (at home in my bed) to breastfeed her. Nobody really knows why I can't make enough but we have a few clues including a baby who didn't latch for 5 weeks and horrible blood loss during labor.
Fast forward through taking every supplement under the moon and pumping my brains out (and even eating weeds out of my yard!) we have made it to 6 months! I still feel like I was cheated out of something that should just work with a little effort! We use a SNS to nurse and I remind myself through the tears that EVERY OUNCE OF BREAST MILK COUNTS, even if it's not enough. If it doesn't work perfectly it doesn't have to be all or nothing! It's worth the effort even if it's the hardest thing I have ever done!
The resources you listed are so great! They have become a great source of information to me! Dr Newman will even take the time out to answer your emails personally. The group MOBI http://www.mobimotherhood.org/ has been a lot of help to me as well.

Alexandra said...

great post!!!! I am also not making enough milk for some reason (I make so little I don't even feel my milk come in!). I didn't with my first either, but it didn't matter if we sat there and nursed 20/24 hours of the day just to keep him full. With the second we haven't been able to do that. So she got exclusive breastfeeding for six months (until I about fell over from exhaustion) and now does half breast/half formula. It makes me really upset that I can't satisfy her completely, but I still hope to continue at least part nursing for as long as she wants.

Anyways....found you at the MbC cloth diaper group! love your site and am your newest follower!

Jen M said...

You won some awards for being such a fun blogger!


YogaMama said...

I totally agree with this post. Everyone should give it a good shot if they are medically able! It's so good for your baby and so much cheaper than formula! I nursed my oldest for 13mos and am currently nursing my 9 month old. It's true there is often that lack of support though which is a terrible shame. :(

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

We had SOOOO many problems (preemie baby in the NICU for weeks to start). But we stuck it out, got over the nipple confusion, supply issues, depression. Now we're 1+ year in and I'm gonna keep on going :-)

Sometimes, when something seems almost impossible to overcome, and then you finally make it. It's VERY hard to give it up. And why should you? Because people think it's weird? Sometimes that's all the more reason to keep at it :P

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