Friday, November 16, 2012

Breast Feeding 101

When your baby breastfeeds, it looks a lot like he or she is telling a very important secret to your boobie.

When I fed Liam for the first time, as shown below, I didn't know if he was getting anything or not.  You think to yourself- how does my body know that NOW is the time for the milking?
Some women will tell you that breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing you can do for your child.  That it's natural and it's precious and special.
I'm going to be just so honest with you- I'm not one of those women yet.
I know the benefits of breast feeding, and I am 100% sure that it really is the best for your child.  And I was, and still am 100% dedicated to breastfeeding Liam 100% of the time...but it turns out that I can't.
Friends of mine had resorted to formula, and I scoffed at them.  "I will be breast feeding EXCLUSIVELY."  I haughtily announced when I heard their tales of low milk supply, babies that would not latch, and pumping woes.  There would be no foreign MAN MADE substances entering the tiny stomach of this exquisite human being I would soon be birthing.  I gave away the coupons I received in the mail and donated the formula samples I would clearly not be needing.
I went to the classes.  Oh the classes.  I was clearly fully prepared for the daunting task of feeding my son from the breast.  So when they put him on my chest, cleaned up and ready to eat, I wasn't surprised when he latched on and went to town.
I fed him like a pro every two hours at the hospital.  You could have set your clock by me and my amazing, nourishment providing tatas.  I wasn't aware of the pain that would come with breastfeeding, and I'm not talking about nipples.  (...although that doesn't feel pleasant either at first...)  But your uterus contracts as you are feeding, and it feels like a very long menstrual cramp.  I combat this with a heating pad.  The next thing you notice is nausea.  I'm told it's not every woman that experiences this, but I certainly did.  The oxytocin your body produces is what does this.  There's nothing you can do except grin and bear it.  Sipping water helps, but I'm also told some women throw up.  So be warned.
Liam's second day in this world he slept allllll day.  No feedings.  Not at huge deal, since my milk didn't come in yet so I wasn't facing engorgement.  But then that night he "cluster fed"- a new term to me.  Every 45 minutes he was screaming and I was feeding.  From about 8PM, until roughly 6AM the next morning when the doctor took him to be circumcised.  I was so happy to see him go so I could just sleep.  So Andy could sleep.  My nipples hurt like mad.  I was bruised because my new little guy turned out to be a vulture and sucked like crazy. 
The day after we got home from the hospital, I had chest pains I couldn't get rid of.  I couldn't breathe.  An hour later, Andy quietly told me to go upstairs and change my shirt.  It was soaked.  My milk had come in.  As I'm typing this, I'm chuckling a little, because it sounds so funny.  My milk came in.  It was out- but then it was in.  But I was a ball of hormones and I just cried instead.
Then Liam started losing weight.  Lots of weight.  He went from 7lbs 14 oz down to 7 lbs 0.5 oz in a week.  He was jaundiced.  He wasn't pooping.  He kept growing longer, but slimming down.  He was in the 78th percentile for length, but only the 17th for weight.  The pediatrician told me it was time to supplement.  The word hung in the room.  She came back with a bottle of the "f" word.  Formula.  I started to sob.  She might as well have been giving my son poison, because that's how I felt.  Liam sucked down that Similac like he hadn't eaten in days.  And by rights, he hadn't.  I couldn't provide for him.  I wasn't making enough.  I felt like I had been starving my son.
Andy held me.  He knew.  "It's just supplementing, whoot.  It doesn't mean you stop feeding him.  It means we need help."  He said, "This isn't about you, it's about Liam."  He reminded me.  So two ounces a feeding would come from formula, and then the rest would come from me.  And I have to be honest with you- it was the best choice we ever made.  Andy could feed him the two ounces and I would do the rest.  And before we knew it, he was back up to birth weight and there was no more jaundice.  He was happy, I was happy, the pediatrician was happy.
Turns out, my mom had the same problem.  Turns out, I was the same way.  Turns out, I'm okay.  Turns out, Liam will be too.