I decided to breastfeed because it is always with me, always the right temperature, and free. The health benefits are a nice bonus!
I had a midwife for both my pregnancies and they helped in the beginning but the lactation consultants I have seen (in two different cities) have really been the reason I have been sucessful. I don’t know how anyone with a regular doctor and that has problems does it. I barely made it and I had midwives with both babies, and great lacation consultants. I have home visits at 1, 3, 5 days and 24 hr phone support from the midwives. It would be nice if the lactation consultants in newmarket(at the tannery) were available more than just Fridays, cause a week is a long time when you are having problems! I also have an awesome mother-in-law, who looked after my first when I was having trouble breastfeeding #2, otherwise I would have had to keep him in daycare, which isn’t really economically feasible when on maternity leave. I also have the best husband in the world who really gives me all the support emotionally and otherwise, to make breastfeeding work through lots of problems. When I was in the hospital (in Brampton) with Jack, the support from the nurses was quite poor, they would come in, latch him on and leave almost immediately, then he would come off and it would take ages to get someone else to help me. Luckily, I was able to leave in less than 24 hrs since I had a midwife, so I had more support with them and they referred me right away to the lactation consultant.
With Jack the thing that really stuck with me was my midwife saying “this is your job now”. I really hadn’t thought of it that way but I think it is a good analogy to put in at least as much effort (and I know I put in a LOT more) as we do into our jobs, then we might be more sucessful. With Madeline, my midwife pointed out that any breastmilk she got was good, so I just took it one feed at a time, and just did the most work (trying to get her to latch) during the day, and just gave her pumped milk at night, when I was tired and stressed and alone. Eventually, I was able to feed her lying down (which I wasn’t able to with our first) and this helped her to latch at night. The first few weeks (both times!) were emotional, draining, the hardest work I have EVER done.
I had inverted nipples with Jack, which wasn’t diagnosed for over a week, and then he had lost weight and it took him a good three weeks to get back to his birth weight. And HE had mastitis and had to go on two courses of antibiotics. At that time it was no artificial nipples, no soothers, bottles etc but that nursing aid just didn’t work for us. Finally the nipple shield saved us! He was a very sleepy baby, and I can remember having to wake him for every feed, change his diaper when I switched sides and finally in time for the best christmas present ever, I was “allowed” to let him sleep if he didn’t wake to feed, since he had regained his birth weight!With Madeline, I didn’t even ask about breastfeeding clinics in our area, since I figured 10 months of nursing Jack must have solved all my problems. WRONG!! Same problem, different baby. At least this time I had a nipple shield to try right away. Had great support from my midwives and the lactation consultant in our area. This time, maybe things have changed, or maybe when you already have one running around, it was: use whatever you need…….bottles, soother etc. I did A LOT of pumping (after every feed in the beginning) with Madeline but it was the support of my mother in law (to look after Jack) and my husband (that believed it would work out and picked up the slack when I was confined to the couch either feeding or pumping). I am happy to say, we reached the magical 4 weeks, and she got bigger and stronger and I don’t have to pump at all now (unless I need extra milk).
I have inverted nipples. With Jack (our first) I used a nipple shield and slowly, as he got stronger and bigger and was able to suck better, I didn’t have to use it anymore. With Madeline, I tried to use the nipple shield, but it didn’t help as much. Turns out that she had a poor suck as well and reflux. So I pumped a lot (I got a double pump when I realized we were having problems and I was going to have to pump a lot) and got a straight ( as opposed to an orthodontic or “breastfeeding” nipple) and fed her on her left side (to help with the reflux). I would try to latch her, but I’d pump and give her the milk if that didn’t work. It took about 4 weeks and she got bigger and stronger and slowly we had to give less bottles and I had to pump less. The hardest was at night, for some reason she just couldn’t latch. So I had to pump before bed and after every feeding at night so I’d have something to feed her at the next feeding. She was also sleeping from 7pm til 12am and then up at 3 and then 5. Finally I tried side lying position, and she was able to latch this way, and I got some rest. It’s amazing how much more rested you feel just by lying down!
With Jack I breastfed in public right from the beginning. I went to my work christmas party when he was only 2 weeks old. I was nervous about it, and I always had to have a pillow with me because I don’t find the cross cradle hold that confortable since I have large breasts. And I always wore a cover. But Madeline is a different story. Ever since she was born it has been really hot, so I said screw the cover, it just makes me hotter and draws more attention. Plus Jack loves to look under it! Hey, whatcha doing under there? haha.
I think with the second I just have more confidence, and I don’t have time to worry about what other people see or think, I have two kids to look after now! I do still carry a pillow (the bean from jolly jumper) but I find I hardly use it, I am just able to get more confortable faster.
I haven’t experienced anyone saying anything to me. All of my friends have been very supportive. In fact my one friend still has her breastfeeding pillow and I use it whenever I am over there! Honestly, when I am feeding Madeline I am watching what she is doing, or what Jack is doing, I am pretty oblivous to anything going on around me, so someone would have to come right up to me and ask me to move or something for me to even notice!
I actually stopped breastfeeding Jack before returning to work because I knew I could go right to cows milk and not have to do formula at all. I also nursed him to sleep, so I wanted to stop that, so that my husband could share bedtime. Now that we have another child, I think I will nurse her (or try to) a little longer. I think the health benefits for when the start daycare are huge and since this may or maynot be our last, I might feel a little more nostalgic about it.
I love when Madeline is just falling asleep and she has the nipple in her mouth but still manages to smile that sleepy, milky smile. Madeline has started to touch/hold my breast and shirt when she nurses. Jack wants to know what she is doing, so I told him she is helping to push the milk out. This seems to satisfy him.
I was a little disappointed when, initially, Jack didn’t try to nurse his doll (her name is Madeline as well!) He gave her a bottle! I think because I did have to pump and give Madeline bottles a lot in the beginning, he is used to feeding his baby this way. But he has started to nurse her now.
I didn’t imagine that I would have so much difficulty in the beginning, but I’m glad I perservered because I just can’t imagine having to heat up formula in the middle of the night! It is hard to be the only one that can feed the baby sometimes, but that is why a good pump comes in handy.
I don’t know how the guys do it, I really think, although pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding are hard at times, they are also so transformative, rewarding and special, I can’t imagine not being able to experience them.
I think I did everything I could, but I’d try to get more support in place for the second time around. I really thought it was just the baby that needed to learn, but since I still had the same problems as the first time, I needed help too.
Support, support, support. Not just the lactation clinic but from your family, make sure they are on the same page as you (as to how important it is to you). I think it is really hard to be the main source of food for the baby for the first 6 months and not be able to be away from the baby for very long. Although you can work around this by pumping. Right now, I am the only one to be able to put Madeline to bed. Which isn’t too big a deal, since my husband is putting our older child to bed, but I can see how this is big change for some people especially if it is your first baby.
Once I’ve been able to get over the breastfeeding hurdles of the first few months, I really can’t imagine feeding any other way. It’s cheap, always with me, always the right temperature, and I never have to worry about expiry dates, or how clean the water is. And it’s comforting for them, I’ve always breastfed to sleep and after vaccines.
I think for a lot of women, breastfeeding in public, especially as the baby gets bigger, can be harder. I feel like the more we see it in public and normalize it, the easier it will be for other moms to think, “I can do it too”. Since I’m now going out a lot to keep my toddler busy, I can see there will be a lot more opportunities for this.