Friday, June 19, 2015

Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues: Our Story Part 1

June 20th is my daughter's 1st birthday! It is also another sort of birthday for us: it marks 1 year of successful breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding for me was a given. When people asked if I was going to breastfeed, I said "of course". To which nearly every person I met would remind me that it isn't as easy as it seems and it might not be an option for me. I hated when people would say things like that. When you are going into new parenthood, support is always the most appreciated response.

I was so determined to breastfeed for a number of reasons which include:
--It is the healthiest option for baby and mama
--breastmilk poop is water soluble and makes cloth diapering so much easier. It also doesn't smell as much as formula poop.
--Also, breastmilk spit up is water soluble which means any spit up is easy to get out of clothing without stains.
--my immunities would pass into the baby via my milk and she would not be as susceptible to illness
--breastfeeding decreases breast cancer risk (and the more years you breastfeed in your life the less likely you will be to get breast cancer)
--I wouldn't have to deal with warming or sterilizing bottles. Which makes nighttime feedings and going anywhere much easier
--The bond of breastfeeding is healthy for both mom and baby as it helps balance hormones and releases endorphins. 

Really, breastfeeding should be called "feeding", as it should always the #1 option unless something goes wrong. It really is a great design by God!

The problem is, in the old days we gave birth and then were surrounded in the post partum period by our mothers and grandmothers who all had given birth naturally and breastfed their babies successfully. So any questions we had or complications that arose were easily dealt with.

Now, after a hundred or so years of lots of intervention and at least one generation raised almost exclusively on formula, breastfeeding is just starting to come out of the closet again in the United States, and normalizing it will probably take another generation or two. But when women have issues, they usually don't run to their moms or grandmas, because many times their moms or grandmas didn't breastfeed, or if they did it was for a very short time and there was lots of supplementing.

I have been meaning for a while to write about my breastfeeding journey because it was very rocky in the beginning, and I think I would have quit if I hadn't been so determined or sought out the right help.

I bought the Le Leche League book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as recommended by my Bradley teacher. I read the beginning part on beginning to breastfeed before I had my daughter and thought I was prepared for what to do.

Then Victoria arrived. 

I did lots of skin to skin and my midwives encouraged me to put her right to my breast after birth. Being an unmedicated birth and 12 days past her estimated due date, she was a very aware and "awake" baby, so we didn't anticipate any complications with nursing.

But I quickly noticed she wasn't doing what I had come to expect from the Le Leche League book. She wasn't latching on and didn't even seek interested in doing so. Hmm

My midwives didn't seem concerned and after some time they inspected her and said they were quite sure she had a slight posterior tongue tie, so that might be our issue. But they assured me that more than likely our problem was that she was overstimulated with all the people and would probably start breastfeeding well on her own after they left.

So my midwives left and I tried again to put her to my breast, and again she seemed completely uninterested. So we went to sleep for the night and I hoped she would come around to it shortly. Luckily I knew from my reading that it takes a baby's stomach about 24 hours to "Wake up" after birth so I knew we had a bit of time to figure it out.

Then we woke up early the next day and tried again, to the same lackluster response. It was then that I started to get worried....

to be continued in Part 2

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