I just heard that this week was World Breastfeeding Week. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but I am glad there is.
I have nursed both my babies, so I thought out of respect for this special week I would tell a little about my experience with breastfeeding. I will try to be somewhat discreet, although breasts must be involved (hence the title). I hope to encourage anyone who is trying to decide whether to breastfeed or not, but I am in no way acting like breastfeeding is the only way to go. I am not ignorant enough to think that formula fed babies aren't as terrific or exceptional as breastfed ones. This is just my story, and we will leave it at that.
When I had George I planned on breastfeeding from the get-go. I didn't worry about it too much and just figured if it was too difficult I would let it go. I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby, so I didn't have a lot of people my age encouraging me one way or another. I try to be a pretty "go with the flow" type of person, so I just looked at it as one of those things that I hoped worked out. If it didn't, it wouldn't be the end of the world. I did like the idea of saving a lot of money by not having to buy formula, so that contributed to my decision as well.
On the day I birthed George I immediately felt a type and intensity of love that I had never experienced before. I wanted to do anything and everything to protect this child and give him all the best I could possibly give. As soon as he came out the nurse asked if I was planning to breast feed. I said yes, and she put him on my breast. It was a little frustrating at first to get him to latch on, but after a few tries we got the hang of it. At least I thought we did. Over our 48 hour stay in the hospital we had good and bad feeding sessions. I did have the lactation consultant in the room once or twice. She helped both Tim and I understand what a good latch looked like and how to accomplish the best feedings. I definitely recommend using their services as needed.
Once we got out of the hospital my doctor really helped me when I got frustrated or scared because George didn't gain a lot of weight in the beginning. I did have to supplement with formula after each feeding for the first three weeks or so. I remember having to pump almost every feeding because instead of getting better at latching on, he seemed to get worse as the weeks went on. My doctor told me that if I kept trying eventually he would get it. I never gave up, which I honestly think is the most important trait you can have as a breastfeeding mom. Once I thought it might not work out, I got this determination I never knew I had. I can honestly say that I had never in my life been so set on something. I wanted this boy to take my milk from my breast. Wouldn't you know it . . . at about one month old he did it.
We never looked back from that point on. He never needed anymore formula, and I nursed him until he was 13 months old. We had a few struggles along the way, but as I said before my determination kept us both on track. One book that I always tell people who plan on breastfeeding to buy is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
I do remember feeling the strain of the sacrifice as I couldn't travel or really do much of anything since I had to be there when he woke up and when he went to sleep. Looking back though, it really wasn't much of a sacrifice at all.
When I had my second son, I obviously was a little more educated on the subject. He was a much better nurser from the get-go, but we did have a few (one MAJOR) hiccup in our journey. On his second night home, Ethan spit-up blood. I knew this was in no way normal or right, so we rushed him to the emergency room at 4 am. It was an awful experience, but the problem ended up being me not him. He was such an aggressive nurser that he had punctured one of my milk ducts and then gotten my blood in his milk. I didn't even feel it, but that should tell you about Ethan's personality. He never lost a pound after birth because he ate so good.
He is now 11.5 months old and still going strong on the boob. He loves to nurse and still does it about 3-4 times a day. I plan on weaning him around 13 or 14 months like George. I felt like it was a good age, but again, I know people who do it much longer.
I do plan on breastfeeding all my babies. I really feel like it gave me a bond no one else could ever duplicate with my sons. I feel like God gracefully allowed me to accomplish what I set out to do. It really is a beautiful thing, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.