Sunday, June 30, 2013

Breastfeeding Fears

As I get closer to Baby Time, I'm finding myself increasingly fearful about how breastfeeding will go after this baby is born.  Breastfeeding is extremely important to me.  I know that you cannot pick the formula fed babies from the breastfed babies by looking at them (my own two kids are evidence of that), and that there will always be examples of formula fed babies having a strong immune system while a breastfed baby gets sick repeatedly.  That's because there *are* other things that factor into the well-being of the child... but it doesn't make breastfeeding less important in my eyes.  To me, it is similar to choices we make regarding what to eat once weaned from infant milk... we will grow and even thrive on the less-than-stellar food in this world, but it doesn't mean it is the best for us.  Obviously, when it comes down to it, I would prefer that a baby is fed, by whatever means necessary.  I just feel breastfeeding is important, and to me, the hardest thing I did was feed Landon bottles for a whole year, wishing I had not given up trying to nurse him.

From my experiences feeding Landon and Kelsey, I have come to the conclusion that while breastfeeding may be harder in the beginning, I absolutely think formula feeding is more difficult as a whole/in the long run.  It's more costly.  The first time we purchased formula for Landon, after I decided to be done nursing and pumping, I laughingly thought that it wasn't too expensive.  However, he got older and started taking more ounces per feeding, and of course it cost more to keep up with purchasing what he needed.  It is also much more of a hassle to pack bottles, formula, and water in the diaper bag for each outing.  You get used to it, don't get me wrong... but just being able to nurse Kelsey whenever I needed to was so much easier.  Breastmilk is always available at the perfect temperature whenever needed.  :)  Nighttime feeding is also easier once breastfeeding is established.  We had a good system set up with Landon... we had a bottle warmer upstairs on Justin's dresser with a built-in cooler.  We put two bottles in the cooler each evening.  The warmer didn't take long to heat the bottles, so it wasn't horrible to feed Landon when needed.  However, with Kelsey, I learned to nurse on my side and was able to snooze while she ate.  Hands down, breastfeeding was easier overall, and I am looking forward to doing it again.

That said, in the beginning, it can be challenging.  Every baby is different and there are challenges.  Latching issues, sore nipples, engorgement, etc etc etc.  There are so many things that can happen that make a mother want to give up.

I know I have a few things going for me.  First, my chosen birth environment is more conducive to successful breastfeeding.  Many hospital policies (separating the baby from the mother to take vitals, cutting the cord immediately, and even putting antibiotic goop in the baby's eyes) interrupt the natural bonding processes that promote breastfeeding.  I know that my birth center's policies are much more mother-baby friendly and that will absolutely help me start out on the right path with this baby.

I am more persistent.

I am not the same person I was after Landon's birth.  I know now how important breastfeeding is to me personally, and I remember how hard it was to feed Landon formula when I wanted so badly to be nursing him.  I know I can succeed - I provided Kelsey with 18 months of breastmilk.  She had 20cc's of formula in the hospital but otherwise every drop of milk she had in infancy came from my body!  I did it!

I am more educated than I was before.

I know that each bottle of formula given to a newborn not only runs the risk of causing nipple confusion, but it also hurts the mother's breastmilk supply.  Every drop of milk the baby gets that isn't from the mother tells the mother's breasts to make less milk, contributing to a supply problem.  If supply is a problem, nursing is the answer.  Supplementing can be done in other ways if it is necessary (for example, if the baby isn't gaining weight properly).

I know now that the pain of engorgement goes away faster by simply nursing the baby... after Landon's birth, I was in so much pain.  My breasts throbbed, deep under my armpits wrapping around to my back.  On top of the pain from my cesarean recovery, the engorgement seemed unbearable.  I thought that if I stopped nursing, the engorgement would go away and I could breathe and relax again.  It did go away... but not immediately.  In fact, it took several days for it to start getting better.  The joke was on me because after Kelsey was born, if the engorgement became unbearable, I would just nurse her, and would find relief until the next time I nursed her.  Each time she nursed, she removed the extra milk that was causing me so much pain, and I could relax.  I didn't have nearly as much pain as what I went through in the days after I gave up nursing Landon.  With him, I endured days of rock-hard boobs that throbbed when I breathed.

I know to look for latching problems.  Kelsey nursed with a nipple shield for the WHOLE 18 months.  It sucked, but I would do it again if  it meant providing my baby with breastmilk.  At her first dentist appointment, the dentist pointed out to me that she had a lip tie on her upper lip.  I was floored.  I had never heard of a lip tie!  Tongue ties, yes, but not lip ties!  They can lead to a poor latch as the lip can not properly flange out.  I am convinced that may be why Kelsey couldn't latch without the shield, and I wonder if Landon had the same problem.  Lip ties can sometimes be outgrown (Kelsey's has), and Landon's first dentist appointment wasn't until he was 3, so I won't ever know for sure.  But, I do know to check with this baby if latching becomes a problem.

I know that it doesn't necessarily indicate a problem if baby nurses often.  Some babies comfort nurse, and that's okay.  They are still getting milk, and they are still stimulating the mother's breasts to produce a healthy milk supply.  A pacifier is a replacement for the mother, not the other way around... a mother is never being used as a pacifier.  Besides lots of nursing is beneficial for birth recovery.  Breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract and shrink, and helps bleeding become minimal.  It's how things are meant to be - a cycle, breastfeeding helps the mother recover while nourishing and comforting the child.

I also know to seek help if it is needed (I asked for help at 5 days with Landon, but by then it was too late - I was just done mentally).  Not all lactation consultants are created equal.  I will go to LLL meetings if I have to, to find good advice.  I will find an IBCLC lactation consultant.  I will call on friends who have nursed.  I would hope my friends could always call on me, if they need to.  I have spent so many hours researching breastfeeding, and learning about issues that can arise.  I know where to go if there are problems, and I know that mainstream parenting and doctoring can sometimes be harmful to a successful breastfeeding relationship.

I have a supportive husband.

I have support in my husband, and I am so thankful for that.  He will not sabotage me by wanting to feed the baby a bottle before nursing is established.  Yes, feeding a baby is a method of bonding, but there are other ways to bond.  The father (and other friends/family for that matter) can bond in other ways without harming the work the mother is doing establishing breastfeeding.

I am so thankful to have a husband who I know will take care of things while I am nursing the baby endlessly.  He will take care of Landon and Kelsey, and he will clean the house, and he will bring me food and water as I nurse.  The best thing he can do is support me, and I know from experience that he will do that in every possible way.

I'm not naive.  I do know there are other issues.

I know that there are women who are very pro-breastfeeding, who nursed one child but were not able to nurse another.  It is rare, but it does happen.  I know that some babies need their mothers to be on special diets.  I hope that my baby will not need to be dairy free.  I've tried cutting out dairy in the past but it is not something I am very successful doing.  I am extremely picky when it comes to food, so limiting what I can eat is not food for me.  I hope that dairy does not become a problem for us.

I will do it.  I know I can.  I will do it again.

Sometimes I just worry about the what ifs.


  1. You've got this. You have the tools, the support, and the right attitude. You'll be successful at breastfeeding Baby H, I have no doubts.

  2. Hmmmm.....this has obviously been on your mind alot?
    I know that each of my children were different and each experience different, such as your two. I totally agree that with each child we gain experience and understanding that helps with the next...and I also know that they like to mix things up on us! I hope that all goes well with this babe, that the feeding gets established early and it all goes well. But as with anything, prepare for the unexpected :)

  3. Fingers crossed that it goes smoothly lady - I totally understand why it is so important to you, and definitely had to mourn not being able to breastfeed myself! Now I'm anxiously waiting for solid foods, because you are right - formula IS expensive!


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