Monday, March 29, 2010

Breast Is Best: My Experience with Breastfeeding

I only have one child, and have only breastfed that one child...but I nursed her for 12 1/2 months. So every 2 hours for the first 3-4 months (including nighttime, she wasn't a good sleeper), and every 3-4 hours till around 7 months I nursed.

Then we started giving her cereal once a day for about a month. Nursing started to slow down and was mixed in with solid food feedings...

The last time she latched on she was 12 1/2 months, and thankfully, toothless. So I feel like I'm somewhat of an expert, or at least quite experienced.

In the hospital, before that final push - I told the nurses and my husband, Ryan, that I DID NOT want my little one to be given a bottle in the NICU. Since she was 3 1/2 weeks early I knew she'd be headed that direction. NO BOTTLES!

The type of sucking babies use on bottles and the type they use on nipples is different and I didn't want her to start out on a bottle, since I'd heard this can sometimes make it hard for them to figure out nursing.

Before she was whisked away I was given a few precious minutes with my Little Miss. In an empty room (I can't remember where Ry was), it was me and my little princess.

Then, in walked a nurse, a manly woman who said it was time to feed her. She quickly and roughly exposed me, squeezed my nipple flat, and started shoving my daughters head into my chest.

Super awkward.

I knew Little Miss's personality before she was even born - she's stubborn, willful, and doesn't like to be forced into anything. And of course, being shoved and forced into nursing was not her thing - she resisted with her whole body, all 6 lbs of it, and started screaming. After a few minutes the nurse gave up and said she'd be back.

Alone again, I gently held Little Miss close and she found her way to food and latched on herself. No forcing necessary. It hurt like mad, but I knew I'd get over the sensitivity and I knew it'd be worth it for both of us.

Regardless of what I said about the NICU & bottles - those nurses played with her hair, cuddled her, and gave her a bottle while I waited in my room for 4 hours to hold my healthy baby. Finally I called the NICU and they brought her to me.

Nursing was hard, it was painful (at first), it was a sacrifice of time & independence. I couldn't venture too far from my little girl since I knew she'd be hungry every 2 hours. No movies, no nights away from her, and date night as a couple was limited to a one hour activity, or we'd just take her with us.

But it was worth it! Little Miss and I bonded, we still have a strong bond. I know I gave her the best start she could have. The healthiest food she could have. She was taken care of and happy. Nursing also helped her get over her jaundice faster.

Now for some selfish reasons why I breastfed...formula is expensive, formula spit-up stains, formula poo stinks (breastfed babies don't stink), I knew breastfeeding would lessen my chances of breast cancer, and...the really selfish reason - Little Miss sucked all the baby fat right out of me!

I was skinnier than I was pre-pregnancy by the end of breastfeeding. It really does help you drop the excess weight...too bad all of my weight ended up on her legs. =) Either that or she was just eating straight cream.

And even though it was hard, I will definitely do it again for the next one. feelings on breastfeeding our obvious. Of course we should breastfeed our babies! Why do you think we have breasts? They serve a purpose. It is the best food for our babies. And it's good for us too.

Having said that however - I don't want anyone to be defensive or offended. I know that breastfeeding is a family decision and you have to do what's best for your family. I also know there are some health conditions that sometimes prevent people from breastfeeding. We'll go over those in another post. So don't worry - I don't judge.

Moms - have any good or bad experiences of nursing you'd like to share? Inverted nipples? Mastitis? Please comment! Or better yet - want to be a guest blogger on the subject? Email me - barb.themomblog(at)gmail(dot)com

Other posts in this series:


  1. My experience.

    I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my babies. It seemed like a natural thing to do. I like the idea that it was cheap and always available. As a side note, I had no idea you could "leak" before your baby even arrived. I did at 7 months with both babies.

    Hospital Experince one:
    In the first hour of Welly's life we were expert nursers. He latched right on. It was awesome to cuddle your baby and keep him warm and amazing to have him nurse. When they took him to clean him and do tests. I was called and told that some of his levels (can't remember right now which ones they were) were low and they wanted to give him a bottle. They made it sound like it was urgent and it HAD to be done. I realize now that he should have just been right to me and nursed. But when your a new Mom and it's your first time in the hospital you sometimes don't realize that your in charge! Welly was a big boy at 9 lbs. and 13 oz. so my guess is that he was just hungry! That's what I think anyway. Oh, now that I think of it I think he had low insulin levels or something, that also might be due to that fact that while he was in my tummy he got everybit of chocolate I had, which was a lot. I was addicted to sweets ("was"?).

    After Welly had a bottle, we struggled the rest of the time we were in the hospital. It didn't help that I had a pushy nurse. Not all nurses are like this one (thankfully). Actually, I consider this nurse to be evil. When nursing wasn't going very smoothly I had mulitple nurses come in and give their suggestions, I even had a lactation consultant come in and using a bottle and a tube, tried to trick Welly into breastfedding. After the evil nurse came in, and similar to Barb's experience, shoved Welly into my chest, he was gagging and crying and she kept going. She left me crying. I was so frusterated so upset. She seemed like she was hurting him and forcing him. I hated that. Now this next part is WAY too much info and I'm really banking on no guys reading this post. But they wanted WElly to get the whole nipple and aerola in his mouth and what you need to know is I'm huge. When I'm pregnant and feeding I'm a size DD or E and so trying it fit it all in a little new borns mouth is pretty hard. Later after more experince and two babies I found that getting it all in wasn't how I did it and wasn't neccesary for me. Anwyay, after we got home from the hospital, like the same day we were back to be good nursers. I was more relaxed, less stressed out. I was left alone to figure it out.

    Experince with Welly.
    We nursed for 6 months. I loved the convinece (you always have it with you) I didn't have to remember bottles or buy formula. After the introduction to solid foods he seemed done. He also loved to look around and got contantly distracted. He loved bottles and quickly weened himself. I was ready to breastfeed till he was a year but he was done and I was okay with that.

  2. Hospital Experince two:
    My second time around went way better. Breastfeeding was like riding a bike. The first hour of life we cuddled and he did a little "nibbling" but no serious eating. Hilly and I jumped right into it after he was brought back to me. I knew what worked, postion wise, for me and Hily learned fast. A lot of the hospital policies changed and for the better. They weren't so pushy, they weren't as demanding about when I was supposed to feed him. I also went in with the knowledge that I was in charge. I wasn't as stressed out. I'm guessing because this was my second and I had experince with feeding the nurses didn't offer they're advice. I was told that if I wanted to there was a breastfeeding class but you weren't made felt quilty if you didn't attend.

    As a side note, and that has nothing to do with breastfeeding, that evil nurses name is Lisa. I luckily didn't thave her until the last hour right as we were trying to leave. I actually called and complained about her, and I never do that. My complaints about her, when I had Welly, I hadn't really held him very long yet, before they took him away and when Lisa brought him back to me she didn't give him right to me. I was laying there in bed watching her coo at him and talk to him, bouncing him high in the air. What the heck! Give me my baby I thought. Then she was a jerk and pushy about breastfeeding and made me feel like what I was doing was wrong. And the topper, when I had my second baby she made fun of his name. No really, she did. She said, "You named him what?". I was shocked she did that. Why would someone make fun of the name you just gave your sweet baby. I really dislike her and if I ever get her again, I'm totally ready and prepared to say I want someone else. So if you have a baby at Logan Hospital and you get a middle aged woman named Lisa, ask for someone else.

    Experince with Hilly:
    Hilly had jaundecne, that was expensive and unfun. Nursing did help him get over it. Okay that and the billy bed. I nursed him like crazy and the doctors told me it helped. Hilly will be a year old next weedend and he still loves nursing. Acutally I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to ween him.

    My thoughts;
    It makes sense to me to nurse. It's cheap, easy, bonding, healthy for them. I know that some women can't do it or they're working and it's too hard. It can be hard for sure. It's a sacrfice. You sacrfice your time and your body for your baby. It hurts the first time around. More for some women than others. You defintily have to be commited to it, because if you get a clogged duct for intance you still have to nurse through the pain to make it go away. It's worth it to me though. Keep in mind though, it gets easier, the first couple of weeks can be painful or hard to figure out but after that it's easier. Also it's way easier with your second kid. Yeah, like Barb I don't want to make anyone feel bad that doesn't breastfed, it's a choice and that's just what I decided to do.

    The downsides for me;
    I forget to put on a nursing pad sometimes and I get my underware and shrit all wet. Sometimes that can be embarrasing. TMI warning: Me and my husband loses a little of our sexy fun for a while. It makes leaving for long periods of time hard. Although once they are on solid foods it can be easier.

    You should get Heather's opinion, she's nursed 7 times. Also maybe you should get Amanda's take on it too, for some contrast.

  3. I tried breast feeding with my first for two weeks. I ended up with mastitis and abscesces. I was on antibiotics for the first 5 months and I almost had to have surgrey. It was more expensive to see the surgeon every week than to give her a bottle. Bottles ended up being the best decision I ever made and I decided to not even try with my son. Although there are many very good reasons to breastfeed... The bottle has some benefits as well. Although I didn't I was back to pre pregnancy size 0 jeans within 2 weeks of giving birth and back to original weight by 6 week check up. I didn't have milk soaking my shirt. My boobs don't hurt. Daddy can get up and feed baby in the night. I can leave my child with grandma and go on a date for any length of time. My child can hold a bottle and feed himself which is nice since I have a almost two year old running around. Burp cloths or bibs under the chin prevent all milk stains and wet spots. My daughters poop didn't stink but my sons did. (Go figure) My children haven't been sick hardly at all and have always been around the 100% height and weight range. I can feed in public anywhere. Bottle babies usually sleep longer and are content for longer. But best off all I am not on the floor in major pain from all the problems I had. Happy moms make happy babies!

  4. Ryan just turned 1 and we are still breastfeeding. I love it because it's so much easier to me than making a bottle, especially in the middle of the night, and there is no clean up. Now if men could breastfeed, life would be good! lol. That's my only beef is that you alone are the one to do it. But completely worth it.

  5. Yay for breastfeeding!! I had taught mom's how to breastfeed but when it was my turn I couldn't do it! I went to the lactation specialist twice and I called them all the time (afraid I wasn't producing enough, latching problems ect). I finally found that the football hold was the best for me. The biggest problem for me was that she didn't like one of my breasts. The nipple was different and the flow was slower so even though I would always start her on the "bad" side she would get frusterated after about 5 min so I would just switch to the other side. Eventually I just ended up pumping the one side and feeding her on the "good" breast. After a few months I stopped pumpins since it was bearly producing and I just fed her on one breast! I did that for 9 1/2 months (had enough frozen milk in the freezer for another half of a month) and she was always healthy and big. It's amazing how the body compensates. I had to put about 10 nursing pads on the breast that I wasn't using so I wouldn't be lopsided!!

  6. I struggled with breast feeding my first due to my nurses and their worries. Adler was early and was expected to have a lot of struggles including being hospitalized. He was a fighter and was perfect but we were already off to a wrong start.

    I was so determined to make it work with my other babies. The bond built by breastfeeding is incredible. I wouldn't go back. I loved being so close to my babies, constantly. They grow up so quickly. I love that breast feeding kept my focus on my babies.

  7. Kids defiantly have a mind of there own from the get go. From the very first time I tried to nurse Kaden he wanted nothing to do with it. He would cry because he was hungry and when I tried to nurse with the help of my MALE nurse, AWKWARD, he wouldn't even try. For the first week of his life I had the lactation specialist giving advice and showing me different tricks like the straw etc. He absolutely was not interested. She eventually told me to give up. Then I lived with the emotions of it all, like "whats wrong with me", and thinking that everywhere I went people were judging me for not doing "what is best for the baby". I pumped for a couple of months but my milk supply was not good enough to keep him full. In the end bottles actually seamed a lot easier. I could leave him with other people and not have to worry about being in time to feed and I got Daddies help at night too.

  8. I am right there with you on all counts! Breastfeeding while in infancy has also been proven to prevent juvenile diabetes and even obesity. I guess that when you are in the "bottle mode" watching any of that expensive food source go to waste, we get in the mentality of eat it all, even if baby isn't hungry anymore.
    I nursed my #1 until I got pregnant with #2 (14 months and loved every second of it!) #2 was done at 9 months and same with #3. I hope to have more babies, and this is one of the highlights of a newborn for me.
    Love your blog!

  9. I love LOVE love nursing. I nursed my oldest until she was 18 months (and 3 months pregnant). However, nursing did not come naturally for us at first and because of that, I am super sensitive to the fact that not everyone who wants to nurse can nurse. So I try to be sensitive to every situation. Yes, there are wonderful pros to nursing but there are also cons. Just like with formula. Every mom I know makes the best choice they can for themselves, their children, and their families.

  10. Hi! Ok, totally love the cup idea—I think that's great! Now I’ll throw in my 2 cents about nursing for what it's worth:) I’m kind of opinionated, so no one take offence.

    First, I totally agree that it's COMPLETELY an individual decision. I nursed, then pumped for 2 months.

    I. Never. Started. Liking. Nursing.

    I totally disagree that it’s convenient. I thought it was SO inconvenient! Granted, I went back to work after 4 weeks, but even when I was home. It was never convenient! A bottle seemed way easier. Expensive, but easier. Nursing pads and bras added up cost-wise, too I had issues with pumping—the initial pump cost. What do I do in the car? We had to buy an adapter for the pump. It was loud. It was clunky. Then I spilled milk. And we had to use bottles anyway… it was a total mess. I never found a good nursing bra. I leaked all over. I couldn’t ever leave the house—even to go to the doctor or get groceries in time! I could never feed her in public without stripping down (too many layers in the winter). I was half naked! Clothes everywhere! It NEVER stopped hurting. My nipples bled constantly. I had mastitis TWICE before I finally threw in the towel, and at first, felt SO guilty because other nursing moms made me feel like I would never have a close bond because somehow mothers that nurse think that only they have close bonds with their kids? Elle was healthy. And happy. And we are SUPER close! Not to mention, she’s close with her dad! He feeds her & I have free time. I think no one knows because most people do it either one way or another! That and, again, every kid is different. From the very beginning the hospital nurse did the same thing to me as to you- grab my boob and force Elle- it was so awkward! Before leaving I told them I wanted to pump and not nurse… they made me feel SO BAD! I never understood how bottles messed up babies… when a lot of nursing babies use binkies. That makes no sense to me! They have NUK binkies & matching bottles! That should eliminate confusion, right? Actually, Elle transitioned really well between by boob & bottles. I loved that she got breastmilk but I was a little more “free.” I REALLY struggled with the no independence. I didn’t lose weight any faster, in fact, I have friends who have kept most of their weight on until after they STOPPED nursing. Whew! Wow, that was really out of order, but those are my thoughts. To each her own. I love my little girl and she loves me! Breastmilk or not!!

  11. I believe that breast is best, but unfortunately, I have not been able to produce enough milk to keep either of my babies satisfied. With my first, he just kept losing weight until we started supplementing. Of course, that is a slippery slope--once you start supplementing, you produce less milk, which means you have to supplement more... So for 6 weeks, I would nurse him, then pump, then feed with the "finger feeder"--each session was taking about an hour and a half, which by the time all that was done, he would wait about 30 minutes, then it would all start over again. So I was done nursing him at about 6 weeks.
    My little girl had colic, and reflux issues. She managed to gain weight, so I thought I was home-free this time around. At about 6 weeks old for her it became apparent that she wasn't getting enough milk either. How did I know this? After nursing every 2-3 hours during the day, she would go on a nursing marathon where I would literally feed her from 9pm-1am every night. We didn't leave the chair! I was exhausted, and she was not happy! One night in sheer desperation, my husband gave her a bottle. She drank 4 oz and fell asleep. It was like a miracle! It was very hard for me, though, because I felt like a failure. I felt like I SHOULD be able to breast feed my babies. And yes, both times I went to the lactation consultant visits.
    So once again, we began supplementing with formula, and within another 6 weeks my milk supply had dwindled to the point that we stopped nursing completely. So I made it twice as long that time, but still not as long as I had hoped. I even got through the painful part (it took a full month!) The other part was that once we started supplementing, her colic pretty much resolved itself. Which makes me wonder--was she really just HUNGRY the first 2 months of her life?

    So I have had to come to terms with bottle-feeding. Even though I know that being able to breastfeed is such a small part of what it means to be a mother, my inability to do it "right" felt like such a huge failure. Finally my husband helped me to realize that I need to be grateful for the amount of time I was able to breastfeed both children, and celebrate that, instead of beating myself up over what I was not able to do.
    So yes, I believe that breast is best. But if you can't do that for whatever reason, bottle feeding is okay too!! Bottom line is that the baby is being fed. You can still cuddle and bond with baby while bottle-feeding, and as has been mentioned, Dad, big brother, or grandparents can even have some bonding time too.
    Am I going to keep trying to nurse my future babies? Absolutely! Am I going to beat myself up about it if it doesn't work out? Well, I'm sure going to try not to!


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