I'll start this rant by saying I do not look down upon those mothers that formula feed their children. Formula has come a long way and provides all of the essential nutrients necessary for a growing baby. Furthermore, I have friends and family that have turned to formula following a difficult road in breastfeeding. It's just not for everyone. However, I will also say that it's my firm belief that all mothers should at least try to breastfeed--of course there are extenuating circumstances such as premature birth or medical issues or maybe mom is a drug addict or alcoholic, in which case they probably should have been a bit more careful to begin with. But we know that breast milk is by far the best thing you can give to your baby.
Breast milk not only has the exact make up of nutrients needed but also provides precious antibodies that help keep our little cherubs healthy in those beginning months. No formula can mimic this quality. And another great thing? Unless you're drinking, smoking, or doing something else you shouldn't do while breastfeeding, there are no added preservatives or chemicals. There are no words that take a scientist to pronounce. What you have is pure, un-fooled around with milk (to quote from that Simply Orange commercial).
But breastfeeding isn't as easy as it sounds or everyone would do it, right? Today, let's first talk about those early weeks. And then tomorrow and the next day we can move on to the public perception and finally the difficulties of being a working breastfeeding momma!
The first time my oldest, Ethan, latched on, I thought I would scream. And when he came off, I realized why. There was blood on my nipple. And it burned. The same occurred on the other side. No one told me this was going to happen. I knew breastfeeding wasn't necessarily easy for everyone, but I figured we could figure it out. It couldn't be that hard or the world would be filled with a lot less people! After all, formula hasn't ALWAYS been an option. I was wrong. It was hard and made harder by the fact that Ethan didn't want to latch right and the day after he was born, he didn't want to eat at all. He was jaundiced, and jaundiced babies don't like to eat.
When we brought poor Ethan home, he had a biliblanket and had to be supplemented with formula following breastfeeding. He took no less than 45 minutes to eat, and with cracked and bleeding nipples, I can tell you it felt like an eternity. And then we cup fed him formula. And he woke up every two hours from the beginning of a feed 24/7. I will never fully understand how I made it through those early weeks. It was sheer will power and determination and I wouldn't fault a soul who would give up in similar circumstances. I cried and screamed and begged and cried some more. But eventually, his 45 minutes turned into 30 and then 20. Eventually, it became easier to breastfeed him at night. Eventually, he learned how to latch.
Now Dylan. Well, Dylan was different all together. Dylan slept for 3 hour stretches in the hospital, and when we brought him home, he slept at least one 4 to 6 hour stretch every night. Dylan latched on perfectly the first time and rarely failed to get it right in those early weeks. Dylan, from day one, took an average of 20 to 25 minutes to eat, and at 3 months, he's finished in 10 or less. And with Dylan, I finally mastered the ability to lay and feed him at night. That makes all the difference in the world and is one of the reasons he still sleeps next to my bed. But none of that means that first few weeks weren't hard or stressful.
I didn't crack and bleed with him, but I was sore. Oh. So. Sore. And because he would have a long stretch, I would be so full and engorged. It was painful. I'd feed him on one side, get him back to sleep, and then have to pump. By the time all that was done, I was wide awake and couldn't go back to sleep. And I had another child in the house that wanted to be in my face while I fed Dylan during the day, making him rip his mouth off my nipple. Ouch! But it wasn't that hard, and I already knew how hard it could be and how easy it would become, so sticking it out a piece of cake.
But let's talk about public perception. Tomorrow.