Thursday, September 3, 2015

What No One Ever Tells You About Breastfeeding

First of all, it doesn't come naturally. The first attempts do not seem to work at all.

To begin with, you are not producing milk, you are producing a thick, yellow substance called colostrum. It takes a few days for actual milk to come in. It's hard for the baby to get it out of your breast.

What the leche nurses tell all new mothers does NOT apply to each and every baby. They told me a newborn's stomach can only hold a marble sized amount of food. I'm sure that's true of 6 pound babies. My baby weighed 9 pounds at birth, she was delivered early by C-section, and she eagerly ate three ounces during her first feeding.

Breastfeeding hurts. What your lover does in bed and how the baby feeds is not the same feeling at all. It hurts if the baby doesn't latch on correctly. It hurts if you feed too long. It hurts if you try too much. And the nurses insist that you try as often as possible so that you will begin to produce more milk. It hurts because you aren't used to it. If you had a C-section, it will hurt when the baby kicks the incision across your very sore abdomen. After a while, you don't want to do it anymore.

I've been using a pump. The pump doesn't hurt as much. It is easier to see how much milk I'm making with the pump. I mix breast milk and formula together in a bottle for my baby. This works best for me. Despite the pump making life easier, it's still not an easy thing to do. I need privacy. I have none. I finally started being a bitch and sending people away. I know, I have a beautiful little girl and every one is fascinated with her. First girl born in my husband's family in 30 years. My first child. Everybody wants to see her, hold her, take her picture, bring her presents. But I need an empty house. All these people hovering around is disrupting the care of Gabrielle. So I sent everyone away, locked the house, refused to set foot outside, and all visits are now by appointment only. Deal with it.

I didn't get a good leche group. First while in the hospital, I was given some videos to watch. The first video was supposed to be five minutes long. After 10 very boring minutes in which my husband and I learned nothing we didn't already know, we gave up because we were bored and my dinner tray had arrived. Then I was moved to a different room and we forgot to take the other videos with us. The next time the leche nurse came around I was on drugs to lower my blood pressure and the drugs were making me sick as a dog so I paid absolutely no attention to what she told me. Someone could have been giving me winning lottery numbers and I wouldn't have cared enough to write it down. My husband wasn't paying any more attention than I was because he was worried about me and I was being moved to yet another room so he was trying to pack every thing up. The next time she came in, I'd had the baby. Because of my blood pressure and C-section, my baby spent her first night away from me. I was frantic to see my baby. I didn't care what anyone had to say about anything else. I had one thought- I WANT MY BABY. I was impatiently waiting for someone from the nursery to bring Gabrielle. Nothing else mattered. I tried to nurse her when she finally got to the room. The leche nurse criticized every thing I did. She also gave her very narrow minded opinion of various brands of breast pumps. She flat out told me Evenflo wasn't a good brand. The brand she was pushing was extremely expensive and I refused to use it because I wasn't going to chance my insurance not covering it and I would have to pay $600 out of pocket.

I tried for hours to nurse my baby. It didn't work. I kept trying. It still didn't work. Finally, at 1am a fat little Latino tech came in to test my blood sugar. She started telling me about how she thought she was losing her mind with her first child because no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get that baby to nurse. She helped me and finally, finally, Gabby latched on and ate. I wanted to weep with relief. Unfortunately the relief didn't last long because I wasn't producing enough of anything to fill her up. The night shift nurse who had been tending babies forever came in and asked if I wanted to send my baby to the nursery so I could get so sleep. "No." I said. "There is no nursery to send her to when I go home. I have to figure this out now." I guess that was the right answer because she said she was proud of me for trying and she was going to bring me a bottle of formula so I could feed the baby. I said the baby's stomach couldn't hold much and she snorted and pointed out that a 9 pound baby eats a lot. She was right. I just accepted the wisdom of formula and I decided I really didn't like those leche bitches.


fluffy said...

I wouldn't worry about what anyone says you should or shouldn't do or how to do it. As long as you and your baby are both happy and healthy that is ALL that matters. This may be your only chance at being a new mother and it goes by so fast you wouldn't believe it so concentrate on enjoying it wih your husband and everyone else can sod off.

love fluffy

Aine O'Brien said...

The way that everyone hovers over you when you breastfeed doesn't jive with their seemingly non-stop conversations about how breastfeeding is natural and easy. If it is so natural, why does it seem that every woman in the general area of a nursing mother wants to get involved in some way, suggesting that the mother is incapable of performing this completely biologically natural task??? Even natural processes in life are not without pain or difficulties, such as childbirth and breastfeeding. I wish I could say that the nurses and female relatives were helpful when I was breastfeeding, but, with a few exceptions they were not. The older relatives who bottle fed didn't understand why I was breastfeeding and worried that the baby wasn't getting enough milk. The nurses were way to quick to get physically involved. I never had so much attention given to my breasts before in my life! When I had my second child, it was very different. I made it clear who was boss.

Kenneth Roberts said...

I have 8 kids (4 boys 4 girls) and nothing fascinated me more than watching my wive(s) breastfeed. It relaxed & grounded me almost immediately and I would often fall asleep while she did it. There's also an undeniable Madonna & Child aspect to it that just calms the soul. That said I do know that those who observe (sometimes a bit too enthusiastically yes?) have no idea just how challenging it is for the mother. My first wife often did her feelings late at night in a little room/nursery with a comfortable rocking chair & cushion so she wouldn't be disturbed. I didn't like that as much (since I ended up missing most of them) but fathers have responsibilities and one of them is keeping mama happy & stressfree when she's trying to breastfeed. You sound like you're doing everything right. 👍