Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Breastfeeding Done Right (Michelle's Journey)

Hey luvs!

I know National Breastfeeding Awareness Month is over but it ended before I wanted it too lol. No in all seriousness I’ve received several emails and texts, about the struggle to breastfeed from other first time moms in my circle.  That I felt inclined to reach out to some of my co-peeps that have success to see if they could share their journey with us. My boo Michelle’s responded with her triumphant journey which I’ll be sharing over the next two days :-).

Michelle’s Journey...

Sheena asked me to write something since I breastfed my oldest and am currently breastfeeding my youngest.  We have two boys; a VERY energetic 3 year old and an adorable 8 ½ month old. 

My breastfeeding Journey began a little over three years ago.  We took a parenting class before we had our oldest and I got a free two hour breastfeeding class with that.  I debated not going to the class and almost canceled.  My husband was busy that day with school (he was working on finishing his Master’s before the baby came) so I made my mom come with me.  The class was interesting and pretty uncomfortable.  I mean you’re sitting there watching a video and looking at pictures of boobs with a bunch of strangers.  I did learn a lot though.  It was pretty amazing to learn that babies instinctively move towards your boobs.  Like, if you put a newborn on your chest they naturally make their way down to your boobs from day one.  It’s pretty amazing.  My mom got all into it and kept raising her hand and asking questions.  It was embarrassing, but in the long run it was really helpful, because my mom was really supportive of my choice to breastfeed.  Support is key to being successful at this.  Breastfeeding is really hard and won’t work if you don’t have support from your family, especially your husband. 

Fast forward a month and after 16 hours of not-so-fun labor I had my son.  After you have a baby they want you to breastfeed right away if you are planning on doing it.  It’s weird and uncomfortable when you first try breastfeeding.   The nurse was great and guided me through it.  The hospital we chose had a daily group breastfeeding class.  I was in too much pain to attend the class (since I ended up with a spinal headache from the epidural) and I had the hospital lactation consultant come to my room for a one-on-one lesson.  I don’t know if they always do this, but I pretty much demanded that she come to me.   I refused to leave the hospital until I felt comfortable breastfeeding.  I heard from so many of my friends “I never got the hang of breastfeeding in the hospital, so I just quit.”  I didn’t want that to be my story.  I learned enough from the breastfeeding class that I knew it took more than two days to “get” the whole breastfeeding thing. 

When we finally left the hospital, the whole world wanted to come and meet the baby.  I was very uncomfortable breastfeeding in front of people so I would always go up to my room and feed him.  In the beginning you are supposed to feed your baby every two hours.  It’s not every two hours from when the baby finishes eating; it’s two hours from when the baby starts eating.  My oldest was a SLOW eater.  He would take 40 minutes to eat.  So basically, I was feeding him for almost an hour and then an hour after that I had to do it again.  I was spending a lot of time by myself in my room, because I didn’t want to have my boobs out in front of anyone.  I wasn’t really comfortable with a cover either.  It’s really hard to get the hang of it in the beginning and if you’ve never breastfed before, the cover almost gets in the way at first.  It was frustrating, as well as, physically and emotionally draining.  Friends and family would come over and I’d see them for like 20 minutes and then have to go feed the baby. 

Eventually the baby ate less frequently and I was able to go out.  I tried to plan it so that I wouldn’t have to feed the baby while I was out, but babies wanna eat when they want to eat.  I knew before I had kids that I probably wasn’t going to be someone that could just feed the baby whenever and wherever.  I’ve always had a large chest, but add breastfeeding into the equation, and well, nobody wants to see that.  If I was out and the baby got fussy I would either go to my car, turn on the A/C, put on a cover and feed him in the parking lot or I would go into a dressing room and take a few minutes to feed him.   I am not someone that can just sit out in the open and feed the baby with my boobs hanging out.  I can see how someone with a much smaller chest can do it discreetly, but there were times when my boobs were literally bigger than my baby’s  head and you could see way more than I was comfortable showing.  I know there has been a lot in the news about public places not letting women breastfeed, but I’ve never had an issue with it.  I’ve never been told to leave a fitting room; then again I never told the store that was what I was doing in the dressing room either. 

Anyways, long story short, I went back to work, pumped/breastfed in total for about 4 ½ months.  My original goal for breastfeeding was 6 months, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  Once I went back to work I wasn’t pumping as much milk as he needed each day.  I didn’t really understand the whole process with pumping.  I didn’t realize that I could do things like add a pumping session in for a few days in a row to trigger my body to make more milk.  The idea of supplementing with formula didn’t really even occur to me.  For some reason I had it in my head that it was an all or nothing kind of thing.  So before he hit 5 months, I stopped breastfeeding completely.  In a way I was happy to have my life back.  I was able to go out for a few hours without my boobs hurting and I could get some alone time.  My son was also able to learn the new skill of self-soothing.  He wasn’t just given a boob whenever he cried.  I did miss the bond, but to be honest I just never really got comfortable with breastfeeding back then.  My back constantly hurt and I became resentful at times of my husband.  He could make plans like going golfing and do other fun things whenever he felt like it and I couldn’t do anything without planning around the babies eating schedule.  I just don’t think I was mentally prepared for how much time and effort it took to breastfeed.

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