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Monday, January 9, 2012

Breastfeeding: Should Be Talked About More!

I debated about if I wanted to write this blog post since breastfeeding is such a taboo thing in the American culture. It's not acceptable to do it in public without a cover, and sometimes even with a cover it's not acceptable. No one talks much about it in popular circles. The only reason I hear much about it is because I read stuff online.

But, after going to Meijer today and seeing the price of formula, I decided I needed to write this blog post! Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things that God has created, and there's no question that it is the best source of food for a baby (ask any pediatrician), and it needs to be talked about! I firmly believe that if it was talked about more, that more people would do it.

Everyone says in the beginning, "Stick with it. It's hard at first but it'll be so worth it!" It's sometimes hard to believe that in the first month, but it's TRUE!

I figure the best way to talk about it is to bring up the reasons people DON'T breastfeed and to discuss them.
1. Breastfeeding is too hard. Breastfeeding is hard, and I think it's one of the main reasons women give up on breastfeeding. It was hard at first. I could not get Sophie to latch and had to use a nipple shield. I cried. I called a friend and asked her for help. I listened to my baby scream and felt so helpless. But I was determined, so I went back to the hospital and talked to the lactation consultant (again!). The nipple shield that we used for 4 weeks before Sophie weaned off of it is really what helped us. It honestly took me four weeks before I could get Sophie to latch without it consistently even though I tried continuously. I know there are some exceptions, but I think if most Moms tried longer and had better help, they could do it. Which is why I get frustrated that our society won't talk about it more. By the way, Sophie became a pro at nursing around 4 weeks, and I barely blink an eye while nursing now. I multi-task while doing it, haha. (We also had to deal with thrush for two months which was a lot of work to get rid of... but we beat it!)
2. Breastfeeding takes too much time. This is true too. At first, it takes a lot of time. I also remember crying about this one time. In the beginning, Sophie would nurse every 3 hours, but would take 45 minutes each time! And a couple of nights she nursed for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT! I felt like the only thing I did was nurse her some days. I knew formula would be easier (Daddy being able to feed her at 3am sounded pretty appealing to me), but I just knew that I had to stick with it (being stubborn comes in handy sometimes). By time Sophie was 6 weeks, it took much less time- closer to 15-20 minutes each time. And now she only nurses 4-6 times a day, and she takes around 10 minutes for each. I love it that when she wakes up in the morning, I can easily provide her food source and don't have to sleepily mix formula. I especially loved this when she was still waking up at 3am.
*Note: I am blessed to, for the most part, be a stay at home mom (I do take classes for 3 hours in the morning). My hats off go to women who work and breastfeed. I imagine the time needed for that in the beginning involves a lot of self-sacrfice!
3. Breastfeeding doesn't come in ounces. (i.e. "I don't make enough milk). It is frustrating holding a fragile life in your hands and being expected to supply this little life with the one source that will continue his or her life. I remember frustrating times when I never knew if Sophie was getting enough because she was still fussy after eating for 30 minutes straight. I remember being frustrated when she went through a growth spurt at 3 months and never seemed full (I ate tons of oatmeal and downed water to try to boost my supply- it seemed to work!). Formula is great because you can see the ounces and it's easily accessible if you need more, but I think most women are capable of creating enough milk for their baby, especially if they eat and drink well (which I am terrible at drinking water and still rarely have issues). I think a lot of women quit breastfeeding because they think their bodies aren't capable of creating enough because:
a. Doctors scare them. Doctors say their babies aren't gaining enough (doctor's weight gaining charts are based on formula-fed babies so shouldn't apply to breastfed babies). And when a doctor says such a thing, it's completely normal that a woman holding her baby, who she loves more than anything in the world, would freak out. So then such a woman usually begins supplementing, and supplementing with formula causes her supply to go down because the baby is no longer teaching her body to create the full amount needed, and so eventually the woman loses most of her supply and has to revert completely to formula.
b. Books tell them that their babies should be able to eat far less often than what they do. I like the book Babywise and have learned from it, but one thing I dislike is that it always made me feel like my body wasn't working right because my baby seemed to need to eat far more often than what they said babies should need to eat. Of course, in hindsight, and from talking to other Mamas, I believe my body was functioning completely normal. Sophie just needed to eat every 2.5 hours to be filled!
4. Breastfeeding doesn't allow me to have a social life. I'll be honest... I was tempted several times to give up breastfeeding because of this reason, but deep down I knew it was a selfish reason. I could give up having as much of a social life for a few months to give my baby what was best for her.
5. Breastfeeding doesn't have all the added nutrients that formula does. Okay, I don't think people still believe this (they used to!), but incase you do, it's not true! Breastmilk has the very best nutrients for a baby, and while formula tries hard to be just as good, it's not the same.
6. Breastfeeding is old fashioned. It is :) But some thing that are old fashioned are also meant to be new fashion. Some things that are old fashioned are really what is best.

I *know* that breastfeeding is impossible for some, in which cases I am thankful for man-made formula (adoption, for instance, as well as women with certain diseases). My simple wish is that more women would give it a fair chance and that more women would talk about it to new mothers.
That being said, here are my top 6 reasons for loving breastfeeding:
1. Breastmilk is free! (have you seen those crazy formula prices?!)
2. Breastfeeding creates a special bond between Mother and Baby
3. Breastmilk is best for baby
4. Breastmilk is easier to travel with :)
5. Breastfeeding creates less spit-up and not as stinky of diapers
6. Breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight!

Below is a picture of Sophie's growth from newborn to 5 months, when she was fed breastmilk alone!

8 comments:

  1. Great post Alisha, I am so thankful that i was "stubborn" when it came to nursing, and for the help of mom's who had been there done that. It was the help of 1 special mama that got me through those 1st few weeks with Titus and I am forever grateful.

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  2. Good post! I am a firm believer in breastfeeding (though I must admit I did supplement at times). I was very blessed with both of my children, Aiden nursed every two hours for about 15 minutes total- he sucked it down and was done! Layla was a little more lazy about it but still, it was easy to keep a schedule because she nursed about every two hours. The only thing I wish is that my kids had nursed longer. Aiden stopped at 8 months (though I did force him to nurse at night for about a month longer), but I think that was only because I was pregnant and my guess is that my milk changed. Layla only nursed for 4 months, but by that time she was eating things like lasagna and knawing on carrots lol. I dont get what the big fuss is about talking about breastfeeding (of course I dont have much of a sensor when it comes to that kind of thing, if I wanna talk about it I will). I do agree that you should have a cover in public, but that is just so that you can remain as modest as possible and not make anyone else unconfortable (I went out on Black Friday and there was a lady there runnin around with her kid attached to her boob which was hanging free for everyone to see... that was a little awkward). Glad to hear you are staying with it, it urks my nerves when mothers give up so quickly!

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  3. So glad you're such a strong advocate for nursing; it's such a gift from the Lord! And I agree with you: for as "natural" as it is, it sure doesn't come naturally! My lactation consultant was a life-saver as well! Did you know that adoptive moms can actually take supplements to start lactating? Isn't that crazy awesome?!? (She's looked into it!) The free part was huge for me too once I saw the prices of formula. Yikes! And as long as I had my cover, I went anywhere I wanted. No staying home for this momma! In fact, once I was nursing in the back of Walmart when someone came up to me and told me that one of the women's fitting rooms has a rocking chair...specifically for nursing moms!!

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  4. Sarah- I nursed in the back of WalMart once too! Good to know that about the fitting room. Also, I never knew that about adoptive moms- so cool!

    Marilyn, I always wear a cover in public too, although I'm jealous of cultures where breastfeeding is so natural (and breasts are not a sexualized object) that no cover is even needed! I'm glad to hear you were able to breastfeed both of your babies!

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  5. Hey, awesome post! Couldn't agree more! I think the staff at hospitals, while some are helpful and informed, can do a lot to sabotage successful breastfeeding. When I had my oldest, they had me supplementing the first day. That completely wrecked my supply, Always had to supplement. So when I had Sully, I refused to let them give him anything. If we have a third it will be at GHBC. I have never used a nursing cover. I think I have nursed everywhere imaginable in public. I don't care what people think, and I can do it discretly so most people probably don't even know I'm doing it. Anyways, great post!

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  6. Thanks for this reminder Alisha! Thanks for being so open, as I think that sometimes woman just don't know enough about it or that it can be "normal" for it to be hard for a while. Levi was a "bad" nurser, and I also had to go see a lactation consultant several times, and listened to his doctor about supplementing because he barely gained any weight at first. So I ended up only nursing him for 6 months. Nora has been a pro at nursing from the start, and we haven't had a single issue, which makes me so thankful!

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  7. Just came across this post and love how you've promoted breastfeeding! I sometimes supplement with formula because our little one has a milk protein allergy so if I jump off the bandwagon and cheat on my diet I'm thankful that we can use formula...but oh-so thankful that God has provided a free way of feeding our babies :)

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  8. Nancy, I remember you talking about the nurses having you supplement with Morgan! They threatened us a little at the hospital because Sophie lost a good amount at first, but I was firm.

    We haven't had the easiest nursing relationship ever, but I think we've been blessed to have it good :) It'll be interesting to see how my second is.

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