They always say the breastfeeding vs. formula feeding debate is dead and I totally agree that a fed baby is a happy baby, so disclaimer: this is literally just the tale of how breastfeeding worked in my case. For three babies. Over a total of 6+ years. Dear lord.
My First Time Breastfeeding… Sucked
(Get it? Sucked? Because the baby… never mind.)
It was hard! I was a brand new mom and I desperately wanted breastfeeding to work for us. While I obsessively read everything I could about how breastfeeding works, what could go wrong, and where to go when you need help I still was totally unprepared for the technicalities of breastfeeding. It was hard.
Venti came out a bit sluggish and we both struggled to get a good thing going. I had a c-section (more on that another day) and perhaps some of the anesthesia and transferred to him and made him just a sleepy little baby. Maybe it was just the business of getting out and starting to grow that wore him down. Maybe it was just my total lack of experience. Maybe he had sucked down too many of my IV fluids. Maybe my milk was just taking it’s sweet time to come in. Maybe Mercury was in retrograde?
It could have been any one or a combination of these things that made it difficult going at first. The day before we were to leave the hospital I was exhaustedly holding him trying to nurse while my mom hung out with me watching day time tv when I suddenly felt something very warm and very wet running down my belly. I was pretty positive it was baby pee, but when I pulled him away to check I realized it was a thin line of liquid gold colostrum! We did a little happy dance and then called for the Lactation Nurse because clearly Venti needed to work on his latch.
It Get’s Better. Then It Gets Weird. Then It Gets Better Again.
Despite the initial struggles, Venti ended up nursing until he was almost 16 months old. Grande nursed until well after he was three. And Tall and I have been nursing for 21 months and no sign of a stoppage. By my count that’s, conservatively, 73 months of breastfeeding experience. So I have some things to say.
I never had latch issues after Venti and with each subsequent baby, my milk came in sooner and my babies gained weight more quickly. With Grande and Tall, the nipple soreness went away faster (I knew how to take care of it) and when I had an issue like mastitis or a plugged duct I knew what to do. Experience helps! But those first months were tricky and I didn’t immediately see how it would get much better. I stuck with it though and by the time Venti was about 5-6 months old, breastfeeding was easy and as natural as can be. We put in countless hours practicing and things became so easy after those first stumbling blocks.
Of course, there were always little problems that would crop up: getting used to nursing in public, mastitis, a brief nursing strike, starting a new medication, nursing a mobile baby, nursing a toddler, nursing someone who could easily sign or speak out that he wanted to nurse, the list goes on… There are times when I am just so tired and just so DONE being their source of food that it gets frustrating. And then it gets better. And I can now appreciate all the great things breastfeeding has done for us and why it really worked out.
And by that, I mean it is free. I can’t imagine the added expense of formula on top of everything else kid related. I mean I guess people find a way, but I’m glad we didn’t have to.
I don’t have to mix anything. I don’t have to warm it up. I don’t have to worry about packing it in my diaper bag. As long as we’re together, the baby has something to eat.
It Puts Them To Sleep
I have yet to find a better way in seven years to help a cranky baby fall asleep than at the breast. Some people claim this is a bad idea and creates bad habits, but if holding a soothing my baby is bad then I need to re-evaluate my life.
It’s Bonding Time
With Venti and for part of the time with Grande, I was a working out of the house mama. I’d spend between 9-11 hours a day away from those little guys and when we finally came back together, guess what they wanted first thing? Breastfeeding gave us a much needed excuse to snuggle in close after a long day of doing our jobs. I did hate to be away from them for so long, but relished every second of that first nursing session back together each evening. It was our special time.
It Solves Basically Any Problem
Hungry? Boob. Tired? Boob. Need mama? Boob. Feeling overwhelmed? Boob. Feeling like throwing a tantrum soon? Boob. Got scared by the dogs? Boob. Big brother pinched your cheek too hard? Boob. Feeling Lonely? Boob. You get the idea.