I nursed and pumped breast milk for Sarah's first 13 months of life. And, while it has been well over seven months since I nursed or pumped last I realized recently that I have quite a bit to offer as far as tips and advice based on my personal experience that could possibly be of help to other new mommy's.
I must first start by saying that breastfeeding is indeed a wonderful thing to provide for your baby but by no means is anyone a terrible mother for not doing so. There are many reasons why women don't breastfeed and these mom's should not be criticized at all for their choices for whatever their reasons are.
On the day of Sarah's birth after 24 hours of labor, two epidurals, a marriage proposal to my anesthesiologist (with my husband present in the room) and dilating only seven centimeters, I developed a fever and Sarah needed to come out via emergency C-section. Once she came into the world she was whisked off to the NICU where she was then bottle fed because she needed to be on medication, and breast milk takes a few days to come in. Also, I was lying painfully on my back, incredibly doped up on drugs, crying my eyes out, and on a gurney that could not be wheeled into the NICU. With the realization that I could not nurse my daughter in her first moments of life (this really sucked) I insisted to my husband that he be the first person to feed her even if through a bottle if that was a must.
Flash forward -- Sarah is healthy and well and was only in the NICU as a precautionary measure. Thus, I struggled with nursing from day one since I was competing with a baby drinking from a bottle automatically getting food without work. I will say that the lactation consultant at the hospital was amazing, and another that I later hired to come to my home helped tremendously in my success at breast feeding. All of this coupled with a hospital grade breast pump were all my saviors.
If you are venturing to breastfeed please do it for at least a month, if you are able to, before making a decision to stop or continue. I managed through several breast clogs and mastitis, sleepless nights and crying tears beyond belief. I also read and re-read Breastfeeding Sucks (a fun and laughable book considering the circumstances) trying different feeding positions thinking I was doing everything right. But, when the feeling of shards of glass went through my spine every time Sarah nursed on my right breast all I could think of was could she just feed on the left and leave the right breast alone? The answer to this was unfortunately, no.
Please know that while this was my experience this is not the experience of all moms. Every one's experiences are different. Mine may be a more extreme situation. So, please don't be scared to give breastfeeding a try. I am so glad that I did it.
Having a lactation consultant come to my home, a worthy investment, helped me to latch Sarah on properly. My little barracuda sucked so hard it hurt that the consultant helped me to position her a certain way where I wouldn't feel her biting even without teeth. I really couldn't believe the change. Nursing became fun and the bonding was extraordinary.
The good news is that Sarah and I got into a groove. I loved nursing. It was great to feed her anywhere I went, and I did. We always covered up with a cool nursing wrap. In fact, during the warmer months when stores would have out their lawn furniture, instead of sitting in a bathroom on top of a toilet seat or covered up in the aisle we sat on the furniture as if we were having an outing.
Breastfeeding was a learned process. And, while all the books and advice I received from friends was helpful the support of my husband who wiped my tears and told me day after day that I was doing something wonderful for our child motivated me more and more to continue. Also, it's imperative to laugh often because you likely will experience breast leaks squirts for your little squirt.
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