Sunday, October 02, 2011

Breastfeeding, Take 2

As we approach Claire's birth, I've been thinking and wondering how breastfeeding will go this time around. You can read all the details here, but the short version of my previous breastfeeding experience is that Kate just didn't take to the breast very well, she was a "lazy sucker," and after losing a bunch of weight in her first five days or so, I started pumping for her and never looked back. I was an "exclusive pumper" for a whole year, and while I would do it again in a second, I still hope Claire will nurse. I'd like that experience, and it would definitely be cleaner and less time consuming than pumping, cleaning all the pump parts, and then giving a bottle--all up to eight times a day.

The wife of one of my authors had been through the same thing with her first child, and was a big inspiration to me in the marathon of pumping for that whole year. She has since had two more kids, and both of them have nursed. I asked her recently what the secret was, and she basically said "perseverance." That makes me feel a little stinky, like she/I could have made it work the first time if we'd just tried a little harder. (Regret stinks, so I don't want to think that. I don't know if she thinks that or not, though.) But nonetheless, with one or both of the latter babies, she did have some trouble again, but went back to the lactation consultant as many times as it took to teach that baby to nurse. And it worked!

If Claire has similar nursing troubles to Kate, there are several things I'll do differently.

  1. Recognize it sooner. I feel so guilty for not realizing just how little milk she was getting during those frustrating, start-and-stop nursing attempts during her first five days. 
  2. In light of that, I'd start pumping sooner just to make sure she was getting enough to eat...
  3. ...but I'd also seek more help to try to make nursing work. Kate and I had a couple sessions with the lactation consultant while still in the hospital, and we went back one more time after going home, but I could have done more. 

And if, after all that, she still won't nurse well, I'll gladly pump again, and I'll do it the whole year. There are a couple benefits of exclusive pumping, so it's not a total hardship:

  1. Other people can feed her, and I get a little alone time while pumping. 
  2. I made enough milk for two babies, so had a huge frozen stash that lasted until Kate was about 15 months old, and was able to give some to babies whose mommies couldn't nurse or pump. 
  3. Making so much milk is an excellent calorie-burner. The baby weight--and then some--just melted away. (That's enough to make me want to pump on the side this time, even if she does nurse!)
  4. One I just realized after reading blogs from other working moms who stressed over the transition back to work, having to teach their babies to take a bottle and get themselves in the groove of pumping. We were already doing that even on maternity leave, so feeding/pumping was a non-issue when I went back to work. (Excerpt for finding a good, private place to pump at work, which is indeed a challenge.)
What has your breastfeeding experience been?


Pretty as the Morning said...

I am breastfeeding my daughter and she is 6 months old. It was very hard in the begining. To make a long story short my supply was slow to come in. My daughter had a health condition that was causing her to burn more calories than she was taking in and so she actually stopped breastfeeding around day 5. Basically we used a lactation consultant (twice in the hospital, three more times in the first month) and tried everything in the book to make it work and did. I agree with your friends comment about perserverance however its hard and I completely understand women that cant make it work. A support system is necessary--from women who will encourage you to a husband that will help you clean all those pumping parts to someone to ask all your big and little questions to and a doctor that supports breastfeeding and is up on all the latest resources.

But when I was "persevering" through those hard weeks what kept me at it was what two or three of my girlfriends said--that it took them 8-10 weeks to feel like they (and the baby) really knew what they were doing and were good at it. I sort of focused on that and it helped me cut myself some slack when things were so crazy hard in the beginning. But I was staying at home (not in our original plan but hubs was transferred cross country while we were prego and we moved when I was 36 weeks)and had the luxury of waiting it out a bit. I know many women have to return to work much sooner and so the presure is on to get it figured out much quicker.

Pastor Nicole said...

My daughter (who is now 2.5 yrs old) could latch on one side, so I became an exclusive pumper for her. We made it for a whole year - thank goodness.

I just had a son 3 weeks ago and he had trouble latching on the same side as my daughter did. After many tears and stressed-out feedings, I decided to pump for him as well. So far it has been pretty easy, just like falling into an old habit. I am thankful that I produce enough milk, as I have some friends who cannot produce enough.

I have always felt some shame that I couldn't nurse the natural way - like something was wrong with me or that I gave up too easily. But, I'm trying to get past that and realize that breastmilk and is breastmilk and that is what matters most - not how he is getting it.

One thing I will suggest is don't wash your pump parts every pumping session. Rinse them out, put them in a plastic bag, and store in the fridge. This was suggested to me by a lactation consultant and I couldn't be more grateful! So, now I just clean and sterilize them once a day and rinse and store them the other times. You could even go more than one day, she said, since milk is good in the fridge for several days, so are the pump parts. I love it - especially at night! I hope it will save you some time and sanity.

Best of luck nursing baby Claire! :o)

The Mauney's said...

You're lucky that you made so much milk with just pumping! Jake nursed for 7 months and then weaned himself when he became mobile and lost interest in sitting still for very long. I tried to pump exclusively and continue on that way, but my body just did not respond well to the pump. So that in itself is a true blessing for you!

The second time around, she knew just what to do from the get-go. She didn't want to eat very much while we were in the hospital but the nurses there were so great and just told me not to worry about it or be too hard on myself. I think the lack of stress about it really went a long way and by the time we were discharged she was a champ. My milk came in much earlier, too, which helped her keep her weight on, so that's another plus for you this time around.

The good news is that you know it had some to do with Kate and that your body produces. I bet Miss Claire will have no issues at all! Good luck!

EMU said...

Breastfeeding has come easy for me and my two daughters (so far!), but I just wanted to say I have so much respect for working moms who pump around the clock. That is SO much work! Kudos to you!

Kristen said...

Landon had a little bit of a harder time than Addie because he was "tongue-tied." It took a few post-hospital trips to the lactation consultant (whose name I can give you if you're interested - she was AMAZING). Both kids were sleepy nursers, but thankfully outgrew that by about 6 weeks.

I love to tell people about my friend who exclusively pumped for a whole year (that's you :)) because I am so impressed. And if that's not "perseverance" then I don't know what is!


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