Breastfeeding // Post I
When I found out I was pregnant, breastfeeding seemed like such a foreign practice to me. I knew I wanted to do it. I knew it was healthy and thrifty and overall good for my future baby. But the truth was, I had no idea what it would look like - having a nursing relationship with my child.
I was breastfed until my mother had to go back to work - naturally. I knew of some mother's who had breastfed in the early months. I had never really watched a baby grow up and go through the stages of nursing. I definitely hadn't seen anyone close to me breastfeed past the age of 1.
I thought it might be helpful to some moms, if you are out there, and if you stumble upon this blog, to hear about my breastfeeding journey. It's unique to both my personality and Amos'. It did not go as I expected, at all. And, most importantly, it was a delightful surprise. Nursing Amos has been one of the most rewarding aspects of motherhood - which I am sure sounds crazy to anyone pre-baby. It was crazy to me. I didn't get it - AT ALL, mother's exclaiming, "I cried when he finally weaned!". But now, I do, and I am one of it's greatest advocates.
To preface, I am in no way saying mother's who chose formula, or tried breastfeeding and it didn't work out for them, or breastfed for only a couple months are in anyway less of a mother to their children. I do not think they lack some special "mom-ness", while breastfeeding mother's somehow have that extra strength or whatever. I do think breastfeeding is almost always the healthier option, but so is feeding my child completely organic, homegrown goodness. Does this always happen? Of course not. We do what we can with the circumstances given us. I feel the same way about birthing (natural vs. drugs) and whatever else motherhood shall present us. Let's not judge, because we don't know the story.
With that being said, I am going to now unapologetically tell you about the ups (and downs) of my journey with Amos. It is unique to me, but it is still the real thing.
AT THE HOSPITAL:::
If you read my story, you'll know my birth did not go as planned. I ended up with an epidural, and therefore Amos was probably born a little more fatigued than nature had intended. By God's grace Amos latched on very well from the beginning. I feel this was the kindness of God towards me because the latter portion of my labor was pretty trying, as was my labor and delivery. Once Amos was on my chest, things seemed to go rather peacefully.
We decided to do the breast crawl with Amos, which I believe attributed to his effective latch (latch is a term for how the baby suckles at the breast) and nursing. We laid him face down on my belly, and he actually nuzzled/inched his way up to my breast. Yes, at only an hour old, Amos was able to do this. According to my doula, this is quite attainable for most babies... and I must say, Amos was born with great neck control. I don't know if he had not been able to hold up his head, if he could have done this. That'd be a question for an experienced midwife, I'm sure.
My only memories of the hospital, post-partum, were that of breastfeeding. Latching, re-latching, etc. I was told by a lactation consultant (one who specializes in breastfeeding) that if the latch hurts, or does not feel right, to slide your finger in the corner of their mouth, de-latch, and have them try again. I was told not to be alarmed if I have to do this a dozen or more times during a breastfeeding session. And so, I did this many of times. I think it helped both Amos and I establish the correct way to nurse.
And so we nursed. I pretty much left him at my chest, skin to skin, the first couple of days. I'd switch off between each time he cried for hunger, which was pretty much anytime he cried, I put him at my breast. I slept with him there, as I barely dozed sitting up in my hospital bed. From the beginning Amos HATED being put down. He screamed in his hospital cradle, and would only be contented in someone's arms.
I wonder now, if in the beginning I had let him fuss for a bit, if he would have grown more accustomed to laying by himself. Who knows, really, being a first time mother and your natural instinct is of course to comfort a baby that has just met the world for the first time. So comfort I did.
|Amos isn't nursing here, for anyone traumatized by such photos - but he is sleeping while sending out pictures to family. also, i know that it looks like a second baby was raptured from the hospital cradle... it was just ricky's photo-op idea. ;)|
The things I remember most about my first weeks home consist, almost entirely of nursing. My mother had told me, "You'll feel as if he's connected to you." and "All you'll do is sit." My mother is quite matter-of-fact, and she was right. I had thankfully bought a REALLLLLLY comfortable nursing chair, and pretty much set up camp. Amos nursed, and slept, and nursed. Ricky took him for a bit, my mom took him for a bit, until - 30 minutes later, he'd cry his cry for milk. I honestly didn't mind it much, being that my labor was so difficult I really did need the rest. Sitting around was good for me.
From what I can remember, my milk took almost a week to come in. That's rather common, from what I've heard, with difficult, long labors. Amos lost weight and had to see a doctor, but right before that appointment my milk came in and he started gaining.
The hardest part was Amos' refusal to be put down. The first weeks I literally sat in my chair, blankets all around me, and all around Amos and nursed him in the chair, and slept with him there. I'm sure laying him in a crib is much safer, but it was really distressing on what to do, being he would cry and cry in his crib. I would try to transfer him while he was asleep - and he would cry and cry. So we lived in that nursing chair. I remember nights where I would feed him, and then my mom would take him and hold him in the chair, so I could lay down on the living room floor and get some sleep. It was hard, but I had a lot of support from both Ricky and my mom.
|i'm obviously not one of those women who look awesome days after birth. i look more like an inflated cherry, but you know - all for the glory of a babe. ;)|
|Amos 4-5 days old.|
0 - 8 WEEKS:::
I eventually decided to nurse Amos on my side while laying down during the night. I had absolutely NO intention of co-sleeping, whatsoever. We had a wonderful crib set up, in our room, and that was what I had planned on doing. I guess you learn, once you become a mom, nothing is going to go as you expect, so control freaks better brace themselves. ;)
We continued to try and put Amos in his crib. I researched the cry-it-out method, baby-wise and all these question forums on the internet. While Amos was nursing, I was most likely googling something on my iphone. When does it get easier? What do I do if he hates his crib? Why is his poop still black? Information is always comforting for me. After reading up on stuff, I really did not feel comfortable having amos cry for such a long period of time at such a tender age. I also prayed a lot and really felt peace about co-sleeping, though at first I was super ashamed about it. Weird, I know, but I did. It seemed so unconventional at the time.
Now that I look back, I think this was by far the best decision we made as a family for this season. God is so gracious, and He knew it would be the best for both Amos and Ricky and I. We eventually bought a co-sleeper (nudges up against the bed to where he can sleep in his crib right next to us). He didn't even sleep in there until later on, as he would not allow us to transfer him until about 16 weeks.
I put this section as 0-8 weeks, because I believe that is the most demanding and difficult portion of breastfeeding. It may extend to 12 to 16 weeks for some mothers. During this time, Amos nursed on demand every 30 minutes to an hour. He was still learning HOW to nurse, and therefore not as effective nor quick as later on. I was still learning HOW to nurse also, so there is a major learning curve during this portion. It hurts also, as your nipples are still pretty tender (the shower! OUCH!), you are still recovering from the delivery, AND your letdown can hurt. I think, if your baby is destined to sleep through the night, they tend to not do it very consistently in the early weeks.
|Amos at 4 weeks.|
|Amos at 8 weeks.|