So, technically this was last week, but I was so extremely busy I had no time to blog and acknowledge it. Better late than never! I just wanted to share my thoughts and experiences on the subject matter.
This month actually acknowledges 6 months since I stopped breastfeeding Braden. He and I both made the decision that just after he turned 1 year it was time to stop. How did Braden, a 1 year old, help me decide – you ask? Easy! I knew what would be my last time breastfeeding him…but I also had an open mind that if he was showing me signs that he wanted to continue that I would let him, but just in the evenings or mornings if I was home, because I didn’t want to let it hinder me going to work or going out to have a social life! It just so happened that Braden and I were on the same page and he never indicated to me once that he wanted to nurse when we stopped.
As odd as it may sound I was really excited to breastfeed when I was pregnant. I was looking forward to that special bond I would create with my baby and to be able to provide him with the perfect food to give him the best start to life as possible. I would have dreams not about labor and deliver…but about nursing! I had some breastfeeding education through my job and I have wonderful resources in my life that have done it with their babies and that have taken the 18 hour breastfeeding course through work.
One of my 3 goals when delivering Braden was to do it naturally (check!), to have no IV (check!), and to have him placed on my chest for skin-to-skin as soon as was safe, preferably right after delivery so I could nurse him ASAP (check!). It was better than the best experience I could have ever imagined. He latched like a champ and we never had a problem from the get go. I am lucky and I count my blessings. I know that.
Here are the things that I have learned and my advice for soon-to-be or new breastfeeding mamas:
- it hurts! Every book you read (and even some ill-experienced nurses) will tell you that it’s not supposed to hurt and that if it does – you’re doing it wrong. This is BS with a capital B and every mama who’s done it will back me up on this. You might have to adjust the latch, but in all honesty it is toe curling-ly painful at first – literally. It honestly took a good 6 weeks for it to be 100% comfortable and non-painful, just when you think you’re getting used to it, your baby will have a growth spurt and you will be raw and sore all over again!
- if you want to do it, you can! There are so many wonderful resources – use your friends, nurses, lactation consultants, La Leche Leagues, and awesome websites like KellyMom.com! My attitude towards it is that there’s only a handful of women who cannot produce enough milk and literally cannot breastfeed their babes sufficiently, and that a ton of women in the world have no other option but to breastfeed…so can we.
- don’t introduce a pacifier right away. I introduced a soother at 6 weeks and he didn’t take it right away…he started at 3-4 months. The recommendation is to introduce it at 3 months or at least until breastfeeding is well established
- introduce a bottle and start pumping at this time if you want to have the option to pump and give bottles for a bit of a break
- if you are 100% dedicated to breastfeeding and do not want your baby to receive formula, stick to your guns and don’t let breastfeeding naysayers influence your decision. I know that in many hospitals, including the one that I delivered in, have a policy that if the baby’s blood sugar is too low the nurses have to give formula…I would NOT have been happy if this was to happen and I am very proud to say that not a drop of formula has ever touched my sons lips
- breastfeed anywhere and everywhere! I got myself some awesome Hooter Hider nursing covers and they’re really easy to use, light, breathable for baby – one of my best investments and I always give them as gifts at baby showers now
- remember that breastfeeding is FREE! No dishes, no equipment, no extra trips to the grocery store, no warming, re-warming, cooling down! It can save a Canadian family $2000-$3000 per YEAR!
- it is a unbreakable bond between a mama and babe. I will never forget the middle-of-the-night feedings…and am even getting a bit teary reminiscing…seeing his little eyes peer up at me and then falling into a milk-drunk sleep
- the health benefits of breastfeeding for mama and babe…you can’t ignore! I’d have to write a whole other post…or 2….or 3 on this! But some…
- reduces infection
- promotes optimal brain development
- reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for mom
- decreases health care costs related to asthma, ear infections, GI disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.
- reduces risk of SIDS
- did I mention how awesome breastfeeding is for losing the baby weight? My uterus was completely “shrunk” and back home at Braden’s 2 week appointment
I am a big advocate for breastfeeding, but I do not judge moms who use formula, and I know that everyone has a different story and a different reason, I just truly believe that if you want to breastfeed – YOU CAN! It’s not easy for everyone, and I recognize that…maybe I was one of the few lucky ones? I pray that with our next baby(ies) that it will go as smoothly as it did with Braden, and that if it doesn’t we can get through it and make it a positive experience.
It made me really sad that at Braden’s 18 month appointment last week when the nurse asked me when I weaned Braden and said 12 months 1 week…she was proud of me, but also said that I was on the very low end of the spectrum of moms who breastfeed so long. Wow. My original goal was to get to 6 months, and hopefully beyond…I’m so glad that I went beyond!!