Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Breastfeeding



I just wanted to take a moment to talk about breastfeeding.

It's hard work. It's worthwhile work. It's something I am passionate about.

I nursed my daughter until she was 25 months old. She weaned herself from her single daily feeding (bedtime) towards the end of my first trimester of my pregnancy with Zach. We had a rough start- cracked, bleeding nipples, plugged ducts, lack of confidence. But with the support of my mom and my husband, we fought through and ended up with a great nursing relationship. After a year, we came down with thrush. Again, thanks to my mother, we got through it. I was heartbroken and wracked with guilt when I became pregnant with Zach. I was concerned that I was taking away from Teagan with my pregnancy... but really, she was ready. It was just time. And she never looked back.

Zach started out more "matter of fact" about nursing. Where Teagan could have been at the breast for 24 solid hours, only pausing for a diaper change, Zach was more business like. Get the milk and go back to sleep. Get the milk and see the world. Get the milk. Period. We fought what we thought was thrush his first month. Ended up being a more general fungal infection and once the doc figured that out and changed the type of ointment, I healed quickly. About 3 months or so ago, Zach stopped taking milk during the day. I had been pumping, since I work full time, and he first stopped taking the pumped milk. Soon after, he stopped asking during the day when we were together. He still night nurses, though, so he gets plenty of breastmilk. He is 13 months old and nurses anywhere from 2-6 times each night. Thank heavens Jeff and I both believe in co-sleeping!!

What have I learned?

Do laundry every day if you really want to keep up with it. Or... be like me and let it pile up and wait for your husband or a friend to have pity and help you out.

Do dishes every day if you really want to keep up with it. Or... see above. Another option is to believe in carry out and tossable plates and cutlery for a while.

Latch basics can help at any age and any stage of breastfeeding. Once teeth start coming in, latch has to be re-taught. Unless you like teeth scraping your nipple.

I have something that only I can do for my babies. I can nurture, feed, comfort with a single boob. I'm pretty powerful that way.

Breastfeeding is hard work and brings struggles and challenges. In the process of getting through cracked nipples, fungal infections, thrush, plugged ducts, engorgement, and other potential problems, you learn a lot about yourself, your baby, your spouse, your friends.

At the same time, once you have confidence, breastfeeding is the easiest and fastest thing in the world. Once you overcome the struggles, it is almost surreal how easy it is to pick up baby, whip out your breast, latch them on, and continue on with what you were doing. Or sit and enjoy the quiet, nurturing comfort.

You might amaze yourself with everything you can do with one hand. Sometimes with the help of a sling but often completely on my own, I've cooked, typed, written, called, colored, and even peed while nursing.

There is a lot of support out there- you just have to seek it out, find the best sources, and stick with them.

Between that and your gut, which you have to learn to listen to and trust, breastfeeding will work. My favorite reliable and easy to use resources are:
Kellymom
Dr. Sears
Dr. Jack Newman

And finding other moms who breastfed, who faced struggles, who were committed to breastfeeding... those moms are the ones who can really help you through it. One of my blog readers has known me for a long time- since before my first pregnancy. And she was one my my greatest cheerleaders and advice givers with those early struggles (Lynn from Canada- you know who you are)!! I also participate on some message boards- a global board for pregnancy and motherhood, a local board for moms- and could identify the "crunchy, granola" moms who typically have that strong commitment to breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding.

I am also always happy to offer advice based on what I've learned and from my own experiences. It takes a village, after all.

6 comments:

morninglight mama said...

Yea for breastfeeding! Love your use of the international breastfeeding icon-- we got some of the stickers of that icon when I participated at a 'nurse-in' at a local airport when Red was a baby.

Lynn Freeman said...

Hey Liz....first thanks for the shout-out LOL
Second - after reading what you have to say on it and seeing how passionate you are about it and how you have made breastfeeding a part of your life, it really makes me regret not sticking to it with my kids. The first one - he lasted longer but by the time I had Hayden I was so frustrated and sleep deprived that I just quit. I wish I had someone with your advice and knowledge and passion for it back then. I surely would have found success if I did - plus all those great written resources you've got at hand now. If I could do it all over again, I'd do what it takes to succeed...no doubt about it. Amazing what wisdom comes with age - but you seem to be the exception. You're figuring things out way younger and easier than I ever did. That's a huge tribute to the kind of mom you are and want to be.

Liz said...

No guilt allowed, Lynn. You seriously helped guide me through some difficult moments. Balance achieved by paying it forward with your knowledge, gained from your experience!

Mim said...

I did 12 months with Dave, and 14 months with both Caitlin and Tom, the feed first thing in the morning was the last to go for all of them. I never had any problems, no blocked ducts, no cracked nipples, nothing. I know it wasn't anything I was doing different to others, I was just incredibly lucky. When my sister had her first child in Holland and was having all sorts of problems I felt really weird giving her advice over the phone because I'd never been where she was. Apparently it still helped though, she told my mum how much she'd appreciated the things I said.

C. Beth said...

Was just checking out all your blogs after you made my day with your comment on mine, and when I saw "Breastfeeding" as a title on your archive I had to read it!

YAAAAY for you! I breastfed Chickie (she of the pooping trouble) for 29+ months, weaning her when Zoodle was 3 months old. I am so glad I nursed her that long and that I experienced tandem nursing. I initiated weaning as I was sick of tandem nursing (being honest here) but she did great with the weaning and it went more quickly than I'd expected.

I don't know how long I'll nurse Zoodle--I suppose my answer to that question will be the same it was with Chickie--"As long as it keeps working for both of us."

Liz said...

Hi Beth!! Glad you came over and checked "my place" out!

I take much pride in my accomplishments with nursing.

And I love connecting with others who are similarly passionate!!