Monday, March 18, 2013

Breastfeeding Basics

Before I really launch into this post, I have to write a short little disclaimer.  Ok two.  Part one is for my dad.  You can skip this post.  Have mom read it and paraphrase for you.  Love bug. 

Part two is for everyone else.  Breastfeeding comes with its own set of arguments and controversy.  I'm not here to spark the fire any further.  I'm simply a girl who became a mom and tried breastfeeding.  Luckily for me, my hopes of successfully breastfeeding came true.  So this is my experience.  This is my story for soon to be mommas who would like to try breastfeeding; those who are really driven to make it work and those who are on the fence.
I can break this down into four parts: the learning process, the pain, the support, and the transition.  

Up first: the learning process.  Breastfeeding isn't exactly easy.  The photo above might seem pretty obvious.  Alan and I are in the hospital, this is shortly after delivery and I look like I'm breastfeeding.  WRONG.  I'm trying to breastfeed.  Day one in the hospital consisted of me trying to breastfeed but our little one kept falling asleep.  Day two consisted of pretty much the same only with the added fun of trying to hold him in different positions and with more pillows.  Eventually we figured it out; we learned what position I needed to be in and what position he needed to be in.  And then when I thought I might need rotator cuff surgery because it was so awkward for my shoulder, I learned a new position that was much easier.

So if you want to learn how to breastfeed when your nugget arrives, ask for help.  Ask for help from the nurses in the hospital.  Mine were fantastic.  They helped me try a variety of positions, they helped me rearrange the pillows twenty different ways, and they acted as cheerleaders during the process.  My husband, mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law also helped aid me in the process.  They continued to help me get comfortable (maybe the biggest hurdle to overcome in the beginning) and supported me through the learning process. 

The second part of breastfeeding has to do with the pain.  Bottom line: breastfeeding hurts.  Breastfeeding is kind of like getting a terrible titty twister and then doing it again.  And again.  And again.  And again at 3 am when you are dying for sleep.  

If you decide to breastfeed, know this: breastfeeding probably won't hurt while you are in the hospital.  The pain will wait until day three or four when you are at home, without help from any medical staff, and when you are stupidly tired.  Then it will creep in and attack.  Suddenly every time your adorable little nugget wants to eat you will pray they get distracted.  Or like me, you will pray that your husband will suddenly develop the ability to breastfeed.  He won't, you know.  But you'll have to deal with the pain for about two weeks. The upside to this terrible sounding news: you can get help and it will go away.  Make use of lanolin, make sure you are getting a good latch and have someone help distract you for the first sixty seconds of each feeding.  After that you'll be golden.

The next important part is support.  Without a doubt you will need support from your significant other.  They will need to support you during the learning process, distract you when the pain of that titty twister hits, and remind you of your goal (assuming that your goal is to breastfeed). 

Last up: the transition back to work.  This probably requires a whole different blog post. I'll keep it simple for now.  When you go back to work it will not be an easy transition.  You will miss your baby, probably hate the pump, and want to give it up.  You'll be stressed because the idea of work-life balance seems like a joke.  You'll be stressed about how much you can pump and will it be enough.  Eventually, you will figure it out.  You'll learn the logistics of pumping and working, you'll adapt if you have too much or too little milk, and maybe one day you'll find work-life balance (and hopefully explain it to me).    

Despite all of the difficulty in learning something new, the pain you will go through, and the other hurdles you will face, I can tell you this - breastfeeding is free, it burns calories, and it will supply your little nugget with everything they need (minus vitamin D).

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