Monday, May 26, 2008

May Carnival: I speak from experience...

Welcome, Carnival of Breastfeeding visitors! This month?s Carnival topic is pregnancy and breastfeeding. At the end of my entry are links to the other participants. Please visit their blogs after you finish reading mine!

When I was pregnant with Natalya, I did not give a lot of thought about breastfeeding. I knew it would be the best for my baby and the best for me, and I knew I wanted to do it. I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital where I was to deliver and thought that would be sufficient preparation. Little did I know?

During my pregnancy, I did not notice much change in the size of my breasts. I was under the impression that they would become? well? HUGE! I was convinced that because they did not grow, they would not work. I also thought that because they were small, they would not make much milk. Since I work at the state health department, many of my coworkers took it upon themselves to ask me if I planned to breastfeed. Several went into lengthy diatribes about how they were ?coerced? into breastfeeding, how they hated it, couldn?t wait to be done, weaned quickly, how painful, annoying, and time consuming it was. Funny, the women who enjoyed it didn?t go into lengthy explanations of their thoughts. It was as if those who didn?t have a good experience felt the need to defend themselves. I toured our workplace lactation rooms and gave my contact info to the other moms using them, so that I could work myself into the schedule for use of the pump when I returned to work. I even bought several nursing bras. I thought that was all the preparation I needed to successfully nurse my baby.

As it turned out, my milk did not come in for 5 days (nowhere did I find that info in any pregnancy or childbirth book), I got cracked nipples (again, nowhere did I find that little tidbit), and I thought my baby was a barracuda because all she wanted do do was latch on and cried unless there was a nipple plugging her mouth. No one told me that I would be plagued by plugged ducts, or that I would have several bouts of gastroenteritis which would (temporarily) diminish my supply, or that I would need foot surgery when my daughter was only 7 months old. Those were many challenges that no book could have prepared me for.

On the flip side, there were many blessings that nothing could have prepared me for, either. Such as having an overabundant supply (so much for those small boobies not making enough milk)! Because of being blessed with so much milk, we?ve donated nearly 25 gallons of it to the Mother?s Milk Bank of Ohio. Not once did anyone tell me about oversupply of milk. Nor did anyone tell me about laying down and sleeping while breastfeeding. I thought I had to do it sitting up in a chair.

My advice to pregnant women would be this: talk to other women who have breastfed their babies, and ask them about their experiences- good and bad. Talk with women of all ages, all backgrounds, who nursed their babies for long and short periods of time. Establish a support system for yourself of professionals, lay people, and other resources like La Leche League and your local or state breastfeeding coalition. Get your ob and your pediatrician on board with your plan. Tell your family and friends that you are going to be a nursing mother, and that you and your baby will need much time together to establish that relationship (so no, your mother in law cannot take 4 week old Johnny home for the night). Ask other moms where breastfeeding-friendly places are, and take your baby there when you need to get out of the house. Heck, go there while you?re still pregnant! Observe mothers nursing babies of various ages- let me tell you, my toddler can do acrobatics while attached to the nipple like nobody?s business. So much for the ?football? hold! Join La Leche Leage now. Tell your partner that the house will probably be messy and that he or she will need to do the errands, cooking, and cleaning so that you can focus on caring for yourself and your baby. And take it easy on yourself. My goodness, you are delivering a child and providing 100% of your baby?s nourishment through your body. Don?t try to do anything you don?t have to. The laundry can go unfolded and Auntie Em will understand if you forget her birthday. Establish for yourself a mindset of success, because the old saying ?mind over matter? applies here. Believe in yourself and trust in the body that God gave you.

Now that you've finished my post, please visit the other carnival entries:

Ten Tips on How a Pregnant Woman Can Prepare for Breastfeeding


Julie at attachment parenting:



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