Friday, October 30, 2009

Mommy chronicles: breasfeeding

So Gus is almost 8 weeks old already, and I still haven’t taken the time to write about being a new mom. Mostly that’s because I’ve avoided writing all together because it just feels like such a daunting task. How in the world am I supposed to describe how much my life changed since that day in the hospital that we met our son for the first time? The right words are hard to come by, that’s for sure. So I won’t put too much pressure on myself to write some sort of masterpiece, I’ll just share some little tidbits about motherhood that I’ve learned over the last two months. Today I want to talk about breastfeeding.

First off, breastfeeding is hard at the beginning. I was plagued by self doubt those first couple weeks… Is he getting enough milk? Why don’t I feel a “let down”? My nipples are bloody stumps, does that mean I’m doing something wrong? Do I have a weak supply if I’ve never been painfully engorged or my milk doesn’t shoot across the room like my mom describes? Should I really wake him up to feed him every 2-3 hours? Am I drinking enough water? Can I eat spicy food? Thinking back on it, I was a neurotic mess. Also I took everything people said to me like it was the bible. When someone else’s experience was different from mine, I full on freaked out and convinced myself that Gus wasn’t getting what he needed to flourish. Finally after about two and a half weeks I saw a lactation consultant, and it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. I felt so much better, she reassured me that we were doing just fine, and gave me some advice for increasing my supply if I was really worried about it, even though she didn’t necessarily think it was needed. We talked about how Gus is a little grazer, not getting a ton of breast milk at each feeding, doing lots of comfort sucking, and thus coming back less than two hours later for more. She gave me creams for my sore nipples, a recipe for lactation cookies, but best of all she told me to trust my instincts and stop comparing myself to everyone else. She said every mom is different, and every baby is different.

Now I absolutely love breastfeeding. Not only is it the most important gift I can give my son, but I really feel like it has helped me bond with my little man on such an amazing level. I love that nursing is our own little special time together. Often I find myself looking down at him with teary eyes, stroking his perfectly plump little cheeks, rubbing his fuzzy little head, kissing his tiny little fingers, and just feeling so overwhelmed with love and amazement for this little gift from God. For all those future moms out there, it can not be said enough, breastfeeding is really hard those first few weeks, but stick it out because it gets so much better and it is so worth it. My nipples were so cracked and sore, I would have to whisper to myself every time he latched on, “It’s not that bad, it’s not that bad, the pain will go away in about 30 seconds”. Of course the fact that all the books say you’re doing it wrong if you feel any pain doesn’t help things. Screw that. At the beginning, especially if you have sore nipples from your baby’s constant and frustrated nursing during those days before your milk came in, it totally hurts.

In short, my advice comes down to this: lactation consultants are your friends, stock up on lanolin and nursing tanks, and don’t get too hung up on the experiences of everyone else, because every mom and every baby is different when it comes to breastfeeding. Be confident, ask for help, and focus on what this is all about, a healthy and happy baby.