Breastfeeding is something that our culture is still coming to grips with. People don't talk about it beyond "my baby is, or is not, breastfed." It is hidden behind closed doors or under blankets, literally. New mothers go in to this journey blind. I basically did. We have not seen other women feed their babies or learned from each other. Sure we read the public health literature about how often to feed, how long and in what positions. Speaking from experience, that IS NOT enough information! It is no wonder so many new mom's have such a hard time breastfeeding their babies and end up turning to formula.
First time Evie latched, moments after being born.
She stayed latched and sucking for 3 hours!
Since nursing Evie, I have realized so much about what actually went wrong with nursing Livi. Livi gained weight well enough but nursing was never easy for us. First off, in the first few days Livi had quite a bit of Jaundice and I needed to supplement after nursing her with formula because my milk had not come in yet. Unknowing how a bottle can impact their latch we gave her formula in the traditional position, from a bottle. Getting a good latch is the most important thing in establishing a mothers milk supply and the baby getting enough to eat. Now I know that there are alternative and better ways to give a newborn needed formula (or a friends pumped breast milk!). With Evie, we had to supplement a little bit as well. Because of her size she was sucking my colostrum dry before my milk came in and was not being hydrated enough to wet diapers. This time, we spoon fed her some formula after each feeding until my milk came in. If a baby needs more than just a top up this can take a really long time. There are special ways to hold the baby and bottle to minimize affecting their latch or you could cup feed them from one of those small medicine measuring cup.
I was under A LOT of stress in the first few months of Livi's birth which can also negatively impact milk production. Jon's Dad had just died a month before, Jon had just been diagnosed with depression a few months before and was still trying to get the right dosage of meds down, and my sister was dating a terrible human being who was manipulating her and taking her away from our very tight family. Hindsight, I had severe baby blues if not postpartum and cried every day. Because I was so busy taking care of my husband and family, I missed some signs of my lacking milk. No one was taking care of me to notice either.
One of my most cherished pictures.
Evie a few days old and eating
and Livi being comforted with some midnight cuddles after a nightmare.
The final straw was Livi's constipation. She would go over a week at a time without having a bowel movement. The longest time without one was either 11 or 14 days (depending which parent you ask). Either way, way too long. I ended up going to a stupid Pediatrician who told me my milk was just really pure and she had no bad stuff to get rid of. Then he told me to give my then 3 month old rice cereal and a bit of formula. My instincts told me no way to the rice cereal that early but we did give her some formula. Once she got a taste for how much easier sucking from a bottle was and how much more satisfied she was, she refused my breasts. I fought for a weeks to keep her on but by 4 months old she was completely weaned. I felt like I failed her somehow.
Love these big eyes!
With Livi, I always tried to do the socially acceptable thing and go in to another room or shield my daughters head and my breast from public view, usually awkwardly with a blanket. I don't know any baby who likes their heads being so closely draped with a blanket. I get hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. I hate it. Livi was always frustrated doing the work to eat in that stuffy sauna. She hated it. Evie hates it too. Why bother? Because people might get offended that a breast is being seen? We see them on day time television! I see more breast tissue due to cleavage on women than I would if they were feeding their baby.
It used to be a village who raised and breastfed the babies, anywhere and everywhere. New mothers learned from example and had each other to relieve them if there were problems. There was no formula back then.
I now refuse to shield how my baby eats from the public, for the publics sake. No one else is expected to shield themselves from being seen eating in public. Everyone eats openly in a restaurant, snacks at the park or mall or even at church! I now see it as beautiful and want to share it. I am doing what my body was made to do, feed my baby!
Love it when she smiles up at me.
I do cherish breastfeeding this time. I enjoy it. It was not a fight. Evie latched on easily and has had no issues. I am blessed in that this time. I love feeding my baby and feeling that connection. It was one of my greatest fears of failing at before Evie was born, but now I feel like it is one of our greatest accomplishments. I'm thankful for friends (especially you Danielle!) who led by example, shared their journeys with me, and pursued through some hellish circumstances in order to breastfeed their babes. It showed me that I had support to tackle this goal and that we could do it! It is a beautiful thing.
Sofie and Evie sharing some Momma time.