Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The truth about BREASTFEEDING!

So I've been thinking about this for awhile, and there's just a few things I need to get off my chest (ha, ha...get it? I'm hilarious.)

My friend Kimberlee and I used to talk about how we wanted to write a book called The Truth About Breastfeeding.

Before I get started I need to make a couple of things very clear:

a) I'm a big proponent of breastfeeding. I nursed all 4 of my children for their first year on this earth. I think everyone should try it.

b) I do not judge anyone who formula-feeds their baby, either because they are unable to breastfeed, or because they choose not to.

There's too much judgement on both sides of this debate. I'm not here to debate though. I'm here to pass along my profound wisdom!

As I stroll through blogland each day, I see there are so many new mothers, expecting mothers, first time mothers, and I think it's absolutely wonderful! I start to reminisce about my first pregnancy, and my first child, and the experiences I've had with each different baby we have been blessed with. I don't know if any of these young mothers ever read my blog...but I'm going to pretend they do and that I'm passing along a little mommy wisdom!

In BOLD I will put what "they" say. "They" referring to all the breastfeeding books, magazines, "coaches" etc. Then below I will put how it really is....the gospel according to Xazmin!

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world.

Um, actually...it's HARD! It's awkward, and uncomfortable when you are first learning. You don't know how to hold him correctly. You can't tell if your baby's getting anything, if you're smothering him, if there's any milk coming out. It's a huge guessing game!

It's the most loving, bonding experience a new mother can have.

Not always true. Sometimes you're so worried about doing it right, it's just stressful, and you don't have enough emotional energy left over to "bond"!

Your newborn will eat every 2-4 hours.

Ha! My firstborn wanted to eat ALL THE TIME! I felt lucky if I could hold him off for 30 minutes between meals! And my other 3 nursed every freakin' hour!

If you're doing it correctly, it is not painful.

FALSE! If you add it all up, I have breastfed for about 4 years out of my life. Now I know some moms have like 7 (or 17!) kids. But I still feel like going through it 4 times gives me a little insight to knowing if I'm doing it right or not.

I know there are some women who are blessed to have it all work perfectly without ever having any pain or discomfort. But I can tell you from everyone I know, (I'm Mormon...we have big families and we breastfeed (mostly)...I know about that which I speak!) and from my own experience, the majority of new moms have a painful first few days, weeks (or in my case with Bookworm, months!). It doesn't matter how carefully you practice, and latch that baby on, your boobs (yes, I say boobs, sorry for anyone who finds that word offensive...that's just how I roll) are just not used to that kind of abuse! You have sore nipples. Sometimes even cracked and bleeding ones. It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong!

Breastmilk is the only suitable source of nourishment for a newborn.
While I agree that breastmilk is God's perfect recipe for providing our babies the nourishment they need, and has all the nutrients in perfect proportions for our little ones, not breastfeeding does not make someone a bad mother!

Formula has come such a long way over the generations. I believe modern technology is also a gift from God. This technology has given us the advancements necessary to make good, healthy, nourishing baby formula for our babies.

I was disgusted when a pro-breastfeeding campaign came out calling formula feeding dangerous. Comparing giving your baby formula to riding a mechanical bull, or doing a high wire act while you are pregnant. Really? Really people...give me a break.

Whew! I feel better. I feel like the above 5 things are the biggest myths in the breastfeeding world!

Now, that being said. I do NOT intend this to scare anyone away from breastfeeding! I will add to each of the things I said above.

First, although it's awkward at first, you will quickly learn what is most comfortable for you and your little one, and what schedule works best. Once you get it down, breastfeeding is incredibly rewarding. You are providing your baby with something that no one else in their life is able to. It's your perfect, special gift to him or her. There's nothing sweeter than looking down into your little one's perfect, content little face as they are nourished by their mama. I really encourage every new mom to at least give it a try.

Next, the eating all the time doesn't last forever! I promise! As the months go by they'll be bigger, need less and be too busy and curious to eat all the time!

Now about the pain. I think this varies depending on you, your baby, and your breasts! I have some big milk jugs on me, so I had a more difficult time I think, getting itty bitty babies to latch on correctly. Sometimes it hurt so bad I wanted to say the worst swear word I know when they first latched on. I had bleeding and cracking. But I never once second thought my decision, and I plowed through and am so glad I did! Because this part doesn't last forever. Sometimes only a few days. I know this might be too much information for some of you...but the reason I wanted to get it out there is this:

Based on everything I had read about how it was supposed to be, I felt like a complete and utter failure. I must be doing everything all wrong, or it wouldn't hurt, right? I must not have good milk, or he wouldn't be so hungry all the time right? My experience was NOT what "they" had described. At least in the beginning. But if I ever have another baby...I will go through it all over again. It's worth it, and I loved that time with my babies, providing them with what only I could.

Here's my best piece of advice if you are planning on breast feeding. Ask the hospital to give you lanolin ointment, or buy your own before you go. Use it EVERY TIME you nurse. Immediately after you're done nursing. Even if you're not sore (because you won't be the first couple of times). It makes a world of difference. Don't forget to use it every time. Also, it's safe to take Tylenol while breastfeeding. Sometimes it really helps take the edge off of the pain.

If you are a new mom, or soon to be mom struggling with, or considering breastfeeding, I just want you to know that you shouldn't be frustrated if it's not everything the experts say! I think so many people give up too soon because they have false expectations of what it's supposed to be. If you really want to do this for your baby...don't give up! You will get past the hard part, and then it will be wonderful!

If you are a mom who wants to breastfeed, but are unable to for some reason...It's okay! My heart goes out to you. You're still a wonderful mom. Breastmilk is just one tiny thing in the many, many things that mother's have to offer their children. Give them your heart and that's what matters.

I hope I haven't offended anyone. If it all worked perfectly for you, that's awesome. But I just wanted to put this out there for the many of us who have a difficult time mastering the skill of breastfeeding!


Jen said...

I'm going to add just one thing, if it hurts, get checked for thrush. I didn't experience it until baby 4, but nursing was EXCRUCIATING when he would latch on - I could totally see why people would quit!

Mama Nut said...

How great of you to come out with honest advice to new or expecting moms! My mother (bless her heart!) told me NOTHING, ZERO, ZILCH of the pain of breastfeeding or the wondering, "Is she getting enough milk?" (which was always my biggest question when I breastfed). Good for you! Plus you also forgot to mention that breastmilk is FREE whereas formula is so not cheap!

Koko said...

I'm going to send my other daughter to your site since she's in the middle of all this. Great advice!

Just me said...

What a great, well balanced post! I don't have babies yet, but have friends and families who experienced all levels and been on all sides of the BF issue. This is the most well thought out, balanced, objective commentary I've yet to find on BF! Bravo!

shortmama said...

Couldnt have said it better. I have done both breast and formula. With my oldest I was working full time and just could not breastfeed, so she was formula fed. And she had a very sensitive stomach and didnt tolerate the formula well, looking back I wish I could have breast fed her. But at the same time I know I did what I had to and dont feel guilty about it. With my youngest I was able to breastfeed. And it was one of the most painful things ever, worse than labor! OK maybe not that bad, and like you said it didnt last long. Within a couple weeks it goes away and then it is something beautiful! I dont feel like I missed out on anything with either though, they both had their pros and cons.

Small House said...

Great advice. I needed it about 20 years ago. Didn't breat feed. Kids would have starved.

Have a great day.

kado! said...

I'm a big Pro-breastfeeder! Both boys until just past the year mark when they could move onto Cow's milk! I think back to the days before they had formula...a mother could not just say, "it does not work for me" The baby would have starved! I think some people give up way to easy...and opt for formula convience...it is NOT easy being the only manufacturer of your babies food ALL the time...BUT it is SOOOOO worth it for the health benifits! It also does some damage on the appearence of the boobies...but that can be fixed too! =)

Melissa said...

Amen sister. Even with all that said, you may not even fall into those categories. I never hurt. My kids would nurse 2 min. one side every 2 hours. I thought for sure they were starving. I never leaked. I still thought I must be doing something wrong. Funny thing is, with my first I would wake up at night and pump every hour and a half for 20 min. each side, because I had a family member convince me I was starving my first. Talk about a supply. Don't pump that much, relax. Oh and Mastitis holy cow, ouch. My milk completely disapeared with my third baby after an aweful bout of Mastitis, it did come back. With a lot of work, but it did come back. If a new mom has any concerns don't talk to family and friends go to a lactation specialist first. Even in the middle of the night. Call labor and delivery. Family and friends mean well, but there are way to many opions out there.

Becca @ The Texas Darlings said...

Great advice!! As a mommy of 2 breastfed babies AND a newborn due in 3 weeks, I enjoyed breastfeeding my babies. ANd I will do so with this 3rd.

Great post for all those considering it!!


Unknown said...

You speak a language I understand!! It is not easy at first... there were times I wanted to hit my husband, because he just didn't understand that it hurt. It took about a month before everything was okay, but up until then... wow. I was this close to giving up. My nipples were cracked and bled and my whole body tightened in pain every time he latched on (also hourly). But I'm glad I stuck with it. I can proudly say that at almost 9 months, my little guy is still getting the boob (along with real food) and we're going strong!

Bonnie said...

I breastfed for 6 months and then switched my babies to formula. I was working and traveling and it just was an easier transition. But I found it very unnatural at first. I gave up on Day 2 in the hospital with my 1st and I felt HORRIBLE about it. But a very loving, patient La Leche nurse helped me. She didn't say that I was a bad person for thinking I couldn't do it. She just said, "if it's important to you, let's try again." That comfort and understanding meant the world to me. It made a huge difference and I'm so thankful to her.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Good post and all so true. I breastfed all of my children and each of them was totally different. I think everyone should give it a try...once relaxed, it truly is a wonderful experience.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Great post!!! You were very well-balanced. I hated breastfeeding (please don't hate me). I tried with both of my girls and it was so stressful and uncomfortable and the lactation consultants were NOT helpful, not to mention a physical problem with latching on. Add in a week-long stay in the NICU with baby #2 and it was terrible. I pumped exclusively for 6 months with my first and for 7 months with my second so that they'd still receive the health benefits of breastmilk, and I still felt bonded to my girls even though they were fed with a bottle. When I switched them over to formula (and eventually whole milk at a year), it was no big deal! I hate it when moms judge other moms for hard choices. I do think, that everyone ought to give it a shot! If it were physically possible, I would have stuck to breastfeeding, b/c pumping for that long was no picnic, haha.

You need to write that book! :)

3 Peas in a Pod said...

Xazmin you are sooooooooo right on the money!!! With each child it took 2 months for it not to hurt anymore. The first was the worst only because I didn't know what to expect. NO ONE tells you the truth. One of my friends was like you and just came out with it and said here's what people don't tell you. I was thankful for that. I know of ONE girl that didn't have any problems whatsoever. Never uncomfortable, never in pain, never a problem. That is not the norm. I wanted to take stock in Lansinoh cream and Soothies. They kept my sanity. After my first child I gave both of them as presents to every pregnant mommy that was planning to nurse their babies.

Great post!

Much love from NJ,

Sare said...

That was awesome...thanks! I've always wondered about all of this stuff...you should do more "how to be an awesome mom" posts!!

jennykate77 said...

Really great advice! I'm no where near an expert, but from my own experience, I know the things you have said are true. I was one of those moms who gave up to quickly. I only breastfed Isaiah for 3 weeks. While at the hospital, he never latched on, so they switched me to pumping. It was grueling! When I got home, I felt like if I wasn't pumping, I was feeding him, and if I wasn't feeding him, I was washing things up for the next go around. It became exhausting and led to a slight case of PPD. I wish I had done things differently. I'm glad I breastfed for the time I did though. I totally commend you for breastfeeding 4 kids! That's awesome! I love to hear you tell stories. You're so funny.

Hope you're having a terrific Tuesday!

Sugarplum Creations Blog said...

You should come out with a book, girl! You are so right on.

My first baby nursed all the time too. And I mean all.the.time. And as for hurting . . . uh yeah, for the first couple of weeks with my second baby I thought I was going to die every time she latched on. That pain rivaled labor, I tell ya. Of course, I thought I knew it all when it came to breastfeeding once my third was born, and she threw me for a loop. She came five weeks early and had such a hard time learning to suck, we had to syringe feed, and I never thought I'd get to breastfeed (contrary to what it may sound like from my above statements, I have loved nursing my babies). I did have to mix breast milk with preemie formula for the first couple of weeks, but she caught on, and is doing wonderfully now three months later.

I agree, though, as much as I love nursing my babies, it's not for everyone. I would never judge.

Desiree said...

This is a wonderful post & I think I feel a lot of the things that you feel.
I am SO proud of myself for breastfeeding my daughter -- the first couple of months were SO hard, but I stuck to it and now she's almost 15 weeks old and I LOVE IT!

To anyone having trouble -- it will get better!

Also, the Dr. Newman nipple cream (prescription) saved my life!!

(ps. just found your blog today and I can't wait to read on!)

Sassytimes said...

Great post and OH SO TRUE! Breastfeeding is extremely hard! I had a similar post a few weeks after my daughter was born. She ate every 45 minutes to an hour! I felt like I had to be doing something wrong and felt like it would be that way forever. The best piece of advice I ever got was to go see the FREE lactation consultant at the hospital. It was the best used hour of my life. She showed me exactly how to hold my daughter and reassured me that she was, in fact, getting enough milk from me. It was a huge hurdle for me to go because I felt like a failure...but they are so nice! I agree that all women should at least try it, and see a lactation consultant. If after that they dont' want to do it, more power to them. ;)

I was very sad when I stopped nursing my daughter. It was strange looking back and thinking about how hard it was at first, compared to how easy it was in the end.

Amy said...

I am so happy I nursed for a my little one's first year. I was sad it was over when we stopped. Thank for your thoughts on this.

Joy For Your Journey said...

The biggest shock I had when I started breastfeeding is discovering how hard it was. Everyone I knew did it, so I thought it would be easy. But after working through the first few weeks, it was very easy--just as it looked. It is also cheaper--another good reason to do it. :-)

My advice to new moms is to also take advantage of the lactation specialist at the hospitals. They can be a HUGE help!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Aaaw, thank you for your sweet comments!!! :) Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate when there's decorating to be done, huh? ;)

Heather said...

I recently had a friend who is expecting say the books said she should prep her nipples and asked how she should go about that. I told her to pinch them with chip clips...the pain the first few days is horrible.

Great post, well written and very
informative! I'll be sending my friend over to check it out.

Q, La, and Gooner said...

Oh thank you for the advice. Most "advice" from more experienced Mom's goes like this: "It's gonna hurt, buck up Barbie."

Um, not helpful!!!

Unknown said...

I wanted to breast feed my last baby but he ended up in the NICU -- So I pumped -- my body did good for the first couple of days and then the milk started going away. I tried and tried and when he was finally able to eat we tried with him -- it was to late I had dried up. It was so hurt -- I wanted to experience it just once because I knew he was the last. TFS

Bry and Rach said...

Amen! It hurts when it comes in and it hurts comin' out! They 'checked' and I was 'doing it right' and it still hurt. I was in the know though. I knew it was gonna hurt and was prepared (I am the youngest of many sisters.) still got blisters like crazy...even up the the last month I nursed and now I try to tell everyone I know to be prepared for the 'discomfort' but enjoy every moment! It is a love/hate relationship for sure!

Jen @ tatertotsandjello.com said...

Great post Xazmin. My little sister had her first baby a month ago and she had a horrible time breastfeeding. She finally gave up on it and felt so GUILTY. She thought it should have been so natural and when it hurt and was hard she thought she was the only one going through that experience. It's so good that you put this out there. People really need to see it.


Amber Filkins said...

Totally agree! I loved nursing my babies. I nursed Maddison for almost 8 months. I nursed Saylor until just over a year.

With Maddison, my nipples cracked, bled, and scabbed. It was HORRIBLE! I used the Lansinoh cream, and that helped. I agree, once you just push through, it gets SO much easier.

I had no problems with Saylor whatsoever, except that she wanted to nurse ALL the time.

I think it's great that you posted this!! I'm known as the breastfeeding expert in our family, and I LOVE that. :)

Oh, also. When you were saying 'itty bitty babies', I thought you were saying 'itty bitty titties'. lol.

Unknown said...

LOVE this post. I hope you don't mind if I pass it on to new mommies I know!

Lara Phister said...

I wanted to breast feed so bad...but I'm just a MILK DUD! (that's what my brothers call me.) I get NOTHING! And what makes me so mad is that it took 5 days of my oldest STARVING for anybody to figure it out. I have these HUGE BOOBS for no reason....okay, my husband. But still, I'm a fan of Breast feeding; sore, cracked nipples and all. I have to admit...bottles are great for midnight feedings for dad!

onegirliegirl said...

Amen, Sista!!! I remember coming to bed crying, I was in so much pain, after I had been nursing my 3rd {had nursed the first 2} for about 2 weeks and asking my husband if he would be mad if I stopped. Of course he said no!! But I did keep going. I knew you had to push through the pain.

What a wonderful and insightful post. No judging...just facts.

xoxo ~Lisa

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully written, and so true.

I loved Lansinoh (lanolin). You can start using it when you are still pregnant, that way when your baby arrives, your nipples are already conditioned. That little tip helped me tremendously!

Maridith said...

Great advice!!! Wish I had read something like this before my 1st! My daughter really stuggled because she was tongue-tied. SO PAINFUL!! So frustrating for the both of us. Also, one piece of advise I got that helped was to remember to breath while nursing. Sometimes the pain would be so bad I would hold my breath, be tense and would actually slow down the process!!

Rachelle said...

Great post! I agree with just about everything you said!

I've been at both ends of the spectrum. My first child I nursed. For my second child, she was an extreme case where I COULDN'T nurse her at all. She had to be on some formula that you could only get with a prescription from the right kind of doctor (her intestines weren't completely ready for action). With both kids, I had people telling me all sorts of stuff about how I was doing something wrong, or my child wasn't getting enough, or it was better to this or that.

So, I decided with my third child, I was going to do what I thought best for our situation. I've found, you have to ignore people sometimes, even if they mean well, and just do what you think is best.

There's my 2 cents.

Sheryl from A Much Better Way said...

Great post! I do disagree on the "doing it right/pain" part. I can feel a distinct and dramatic difference when my daughter is drinking properly and when she is either distracted or not latched right. HUGE difference. I put up with it with my first but this one gets delatched immediately and we try again. :)

Emily said...

I am going to tell Lisa about this post. Her baby is not quite two weeks old, and she is being a real trooper, but I think she would benefit to know that she is not alone. Once, Macy latched onto Greg's arm. He ripped her off to reveal a huge hickey. He was alarmed at how much it hurt. I think he gained quite a bit more respect for me that day (and I had a great laugh).

I had little, itty, bitty milk jugs, and it still hurt like crazy. With my first, everybody told me it would hurt, and it did! Like crazy! I let "the hurt" go too long and it turned into Mastitis. So, to all you new mothers: Yes, it will probably hurt, but call your doctor at ANY sign of a temperature. Don't let it get too bad!

Also, don't feel guilty if you are happy when it is over and you get your body back.

heidi said...

That was great, Xazmin. Very well said and I couldn't agree more!