February 10, 2011

Breastfeeding Ain't So Natural

So, did you know that breastfeeding can be a living nightmare? Yup, turns out it can and that it happens a lot and nobody really talks about it. You get so wrapped up in the pregnancy and birth, it's easy to bypass breastfeeding and lets face it, how can you plan for your child not nursing properly? It's something, I thought was an innate skill that babies pop out of the womb knowing how to do.  This is so not true. So not true that they have nurses at the hospital, a private business and support groups dedicated to the soul purpose of helping Moms who are breasfeeding.

Pediatricians, as we've experienced, are quick to tell Moms that they must be having problems because they aren't making enough milk and jump at the chance to tell them to supplement with formula. Did you now that only 5% of moms are literally not able to make the milk? That means 95% of women can make the milk their baby needs, but their doctors tell them otherwise. 

Lucky for me, I had a uber-supportive husband and I went to the support group at the hospital until I was finally told that they couldn't help me, we needed private help. Now, instead of sitting in a group of women, whipping my boob out to show everyone how my daughter screams, I got to pay someone to sit and watch me wrangle my screaming/starving infant attempt to nurse my child.

At first I was hesitant to get help, due to the sheer cost. It didn't come cheap. But it was the best decision we could've ever made. Not only was it the help with nursing, but it was someone to tell me that it's okay to give my daughter breastmilk from a bottle, how to increase my supply but most importantly to teach me that it's not a battle of the wills, she is just a baby who is trying to eat. Feeding times are no longer anxiety-ridden, tear filled endless boughts of despair. Things aren't fixed, by any means, but we're making more progress and Gwyneth is finally gaining weight.

There were and still are times when I think I should throw in the towel and just give her the formula. I was a formula-fed baby and, all things considered, I think I turned out alright. So what is it that keeps me on this path of time consuming, life altering hard work? To begin with, we hadn't planned on formula. It seemed silly to buy something that my body can provide free of cost, pre-mixed and pre-warmed. It made sense back when it seemed so easy. Now it is more a preference. We've given her  formula once or twice and to be honest, it stinks, stains her clothes and she seems to have issues the next day. So to make her tiny, precious life a little easier, I will sit with a crazy human milking machine for eight 10 minute sessions out of my day to give her what she needs.  Until then, we will practice and who knows, maybe she'll finally learn how to nurse.

Links for help:
Starfish Lactation
La Leche League

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