February 3, 2016

The Truth About Breastfeeding, Part 1: The Journey Begins

When a women finds out she's expecting there are a million things for her to decide between seeing that positive test and holding her little one in her arms. One big decision is formula or breast feeding? Every woman has her own personal reasons for what she decides. For some women, they aren't able to chose for a variety of reasons. As long as baby gets fed that's what is most important.

Breastfeeding has a number of challenges. Will baby latch well? How to I hold her while nursing? Can I even produce milk? What can I eat that won't hurt baby?

Formula has its own challenges. Which formula is best? Will baby end up being allergic to milk and need soy? What if baby needs a special kind?

Guest-poster Laurie is back today to share what her journey was like in the first in a series of posts.



My choice for both my girls was breastfeeding. And my initial questions only scratched the surface of what it meant to be a breast feeding mama.

I was 24 when J was born and didn't really know what I was doing. I remember while we were still in the hospital I was asked was I only breast feeding or was I going to do formula as well. I said breast feeding but was given formula. The nurses put 8 ready made bottles right on the counter in my room. I wasn't prepared for the trouble latching or the fear of when your milk supply is going to come in. It didn't help that after the first day with a lot of cluster feedings J didn't want to eat for 12 hours. During those 12 hours the thoughts of I can't properly feed my baby popped into my head and first supplemented.

When we came home I learned what else breast feeding came with. It's exhausting to be your baby's only food source. And very isolating if those around you aren't supportive of your decision leaving you to go into a different room each time to nurse. That's a big reason why I didn't last long exclusively breast feeding with my first. I was quick to supplement and had trouble pumping at work. The kicker was that at 3 months old J decided she would rather have a bottle then eat from mommy. I tried exclusively pumping for a couple weeks not getting very much at a time. J ended up on formula and it was heart breaking when my supply dried up. But as I said in the beginning she was fed and that's most important.

breastfeeding, truth, baby

This time around with H I vowed to myself it would be different. I was 28 when she was born. And after going through a lot between J's birth and now H's I became more knowledgeable and a hell of a lot more stubborn. This time I had more support with my choice to breast feed not only from family and friends but the nursing staff at the hospital. Again I was asked if I was breast feeding or formula. Again I said only breast feeding. This time instead of being left formula these women were so proud of my decision and immediately asked if I needed help with latching etc. I got lucky in a way with H, not a single issue with position or latch.

But there was a painful downside to overcome before we even left the hospital. H was a cluster feeding baby. (Cluster feeding is how baby stimulates your breasts to produce more milk.) How this hospital did baby's first bath was wait and make sure baby is bonding with mommy and nursing well. H nursed almost constantly for 5 hours at one point her first day of life. The shorter stretches were still for 1 to 2 hours. By the time the night nurse came in to check on us my nipples hurt so bad that when H nursed I would wince. The nurse immediately came back with Lanolin cream to ease the pain. Something I didn't even know about with J. After two nights in the hospital we went home with breast feeding going great. All H's cluster feeding paid off my milk started to come in that first evening home.

Part 2: Reflux 
Part 3: Separation Anxiety and Adding Solids (Coming Feb. 22)

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About the Author
Laurie is a stay-at-home mom to two little girls -- a baby and a 5-year-old -- and is stepmom to a 5-year-old daughter. Living in New England, she has a big Australian Sheepdog along with the kids and her husband. She enjoys music, decorating cakes and Doctor Who.


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29 comments:

  1. With BOTH of my girls I "attempted" breast feeding before giving up to go on formula. I did pump for a while, but you feel like a slave to that pump, and not having the proper equipment, I was stuck holding it, so I couldn't do ANYTHING but pump and maybe watch TV. I was heart-breaking to hear all these women telling me I wasn't trying hard enough and I was giving up to easy, but in the end, my girls were fed, and that is what matters. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  2. Breastfeeding is preferable over bottle any day it's mother personal choice

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  3. I formula fed from day one. Breastfeeding was not for me.

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  4. It's hard to beleive anyone today would not think breastfeeding is preferred--if you can do it. Not every woman can.

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  5. Thank you for highlighting the reality of breastfeeding and how painful it can be for both baby and mum. I hope it gets easier.

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  6. I felt like breastfeeding for me was much easier the second time around.. I felt more confident like you did.. and I think that helps a lot!

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  7. Elizabeth O.2/03/2016 8:47 PM

    I admire women who breastfeed their babies. It is the best choice after all. But you have to consider a lot of things, that's what makes it a bit of a challenge. I'm excited to hear part 2!

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  8. You never really realize how hard breastfeeding is going to be until you try to do it. It definitely makes all the difference if people/nurses/etc. are supportive and helpful around you. It took a while, but I got my first one to breast feed. I did get blisters and clogged ducts, though. Ouch. With the twins, I wanted so badly to be able to breast feed them, but with them being in the NICU so long, a bottle was just easier. I did pump for a year, and supplement with formula too. I totally agree that the most important thing is just feeding your baby...no matter how you do it.

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  9. While breastfeeding can be such a beautiful bonding experience between mom and the baby it definitely is a tough one. I am currently nursing my second and there are those days that the cluster feeding goes on and on and I am just drained!

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  10. breast feeding sounds really painful and i can see why there would be worries about latching and more

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  11. I had a child 21 years ago but decided not to breastfeed. I was a teen mom but I would definitely do it now if I ever had another one.

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  12. I remember my wife when she star breastfeeding. It looks to her that she is tired and need more rest but my son still latching to her. Its his the only foof

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  13. I didn't do too well with breastfeeding and tried to help my daughter when she had her baby by sharing the "not to do's" with her. I applaud all women who are great at it!

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  14. Great notes from someone who did try breastfeeding!

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  15. Thanks for sharing this. This is great information for new moms.

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  16. It is a personal choice to breast feed or not. Sometimes it is decided for you as in my case where I was not producing enough milk and had to start formula earlier than I wanted to.

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  17. It's so interesting how it can be quite different from baby to baby, both from baby's perspective and from the hospital. I'm so glad you got great support the second time around.

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  18. I don't have children but I was just asking my mom about this the other day. She breast fed as long as she could but kept getting breast infections so decided to stop with both of us at 6 weeks.

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  19. Breastfeeding is HARD in the beginning. I wish more people talked about that. It can take a good 6 weeks (or more) to feel like you've got the hang of it. It's a skill that both mom AND baby need to learn, so it does take time!

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  20. Thanks for sharing with us your opinions and for bringing the subject of breastfeeding to the spotlight

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  21. I didn't do too well. I only breastfed my kids for a couple of months.

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  22. I had an incredibly hard time breastfeeding. It just didn't feel natural to me and was so much harder than I expected.

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  23. Thank you for sharing. It really is a personal decision on whether to breastfeed or not. I love your story.

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  24. I breastfed both kids but unfortunately my sister and sister in law couldn't breastfed their babies due to medical reasons
    ==rika==

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  25. I think that all mothers should breastfeed and should be encouraged to breastfeed. I did all 3 of my kids, except they were born premature and never learned to actually suck at the breast. I had to pump exclusively. It sucked. It was hard, but I did it because I knew it was best.

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  26. Breastfeeding is hard! Cluster feeding is exhausting and it does not go away when the milk comes in...my daughter cluster fed through every growth spurt..oh gosh, 4-5 hours of nursing straight was horrible. It got much better though..

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  27. I had no idea that breastfeeding would be as difficult as it was with my first. I thought it would be a breeze. Little did I know that you shouldn't nurse your child for 30 minutes on each side (so much pain). Thank goodness I figured it out and was a pro by the time he was a week old and I knew exactly what to do with my others.

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  28. I was able to breastfeed each of my four children successfully for at least a few months. My daughter was also successful with each of her two babies, although the first one proved to be the most challenging at first.

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  29. I remember these days. Great post full of real life truths.

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. As a busy mom, I'm not always able to respond to each one, though I read and appreciate them all.