Breast is best.... As a new mom, I know that statement is easier said than done. I made all the mistakes there are to make when it comes to breastfeeding....
1. INTRODUCING A BOTTLE
From what I know now, this was my number 1 mistake. I didn't have enough education in the beginning to know that introducing a bottle too early can be a breastfeeding death sentence. Most experts recommend waiting 1 month (as long as baby is latching well) before introducing a bottle. Too early may confuse baby (and end up very painful for mom). Breast nipples are very different from bottle nipples. Duh. Bottle nipples let liquid flow much easier and quicker. Whereas baby has to work harder to get milk from the breast. The way baby drinks from each is different. Which is why this leads to latching issues.
We introduced a bottle in the first few weeks. Probably due, in part, to mistake number 2....
(Tilly was also a preemie. So, we had to use this crazy syringe and tubing situation. It was inserted into her mouth while she was still latched on. It didn't seem to work correctly. Another reason things went array.)
2. WANTING DAD TO HELP
I wanted him to help. I wanted him to feel needed. I wanted ten minutes to myself.
There are better ways to have dad help:
3. NOT SEEKING HELP SOON ENOUGH
Before leaving the hospital, they asked if I wanted to make an appointment to see the lactation consultant. After spending 8 days in the hospital, all I wanted to do was go home! I turned down the opportunity to possibly save breastfeeding for us by getting the proper education I was lacking. Oh, the repercussion of our decisions....
I had been having pain/ trouble for weeks before finally seeking help. I had tried a million or so home remedies. I tried the sheep sweat (lanolin), ew. I was in so much pain, I was only breastfeeding twice a day and pumping 4. Baby was getting the majority of breast milk (the little I was making) through a bottle!
I think I was a bit ashamed that I didn't just naturally know how to make it better. I thought that breastfeeding and motherhood was going to just flow naturally. For some stupid reason I thought it was supposed to be easy or just come to me naturally.
We mother's are human. We don't always have the right answer. Find someone who does. Check out groups like, La Leche League. There is a local group in my area called, Bosom Buddies. It's like a playgroup for babies and a support group for mommies.
Find support from family and friends too! The only person I asked for advice from at first was my mom, who had zero problems breastfeeding. So, she was little help (sorry mom). I took to social media after things started to hit the fan. A friend on Facebook had similar issues with nipple sensitivity. She suggested I put lettuce leaves on my nipples before breastfeeding. Apparently, this is really a thing. Cold cabbage or lettuce leaves placed over the breast soothes and reduces pain and swelling! I wish I had asked for advice sooner!
4. STRESSING OUT
There is so much to stress about after having a baby! Are they healthy? Will I ever sleep again? I'm gonna need how many diapers? I may have to breastfeed (gulp) in PUBLIC?? Is someone gonna stop by my house while I'm topless? (yes, topless)
You need a certain level of confidence to breastfeed in front of people. I attempted my favorite, 'fake it til you make it', approach. When I feel nervous or uncomfortable, as you can imagine, I pretend that I'm not. So, I'd just sit there on the couch with my boob out, like it was nothing. Gawd damn I was so friggin uncomfortable. Especially because people came to see baby. Having them look at baby sucking my boob was super awkward.
It's unfortunate that society puts a sexual emphasis on breasts. I'm sure we've all seen those posts and videos where the girl with the low cut shirt gets hit on, but the breastfeeding mom is called disgusting. WTF?! Seeing things like that puts a certain level of paranoia in place.
Free the nips! Due to my breastfeeding issues, I walked around my house topless. I needed to let my sore nipples breath. This caused a lot of anxiety because people would show up without calling. I'd be vacuuming topless and someone would just show up out of the blue, stay for 3 hours, and completely ruin my, "air out". And that was frustrating! I NEEDED to walk around topless. I NEEDED to air out. I felt, by people showing up, I'd have to cover up, and then in turn, I was a bad mother because I had trouble breastfeeding. When really, I think I would have done better if people had given me the space I needed those first few months.
After introducing a bottle, breastfeeding and pumping became difficult and painful. The stress of me not being able to produce enough milk to feed my baby was daunting. Tilly was born 5lbs and everyone seemed concerned that that was a problem. I was under the assumption that she was going to stay small and fail to thrive if I couldn't fix my breastfeeding issues. I felt horrible that I couldn't do better for her.
The stress, pain, and little milk I was producing wasn't worth it anymore. I finally stopped beating myself up and quit breastfeeding and pumping all together by the time baby was 3 months old. She had already started formula anyway because I wasn't producing enough breast milk.
Once I came to terms that it was really over, (returning the breast pump was a bit emotional) the stress and anxiety disappeared. Needles were no longer exiting my nipples. I still feel bad that I couldn't fix things and keep trying, but I am happier as a mother and that is more important to me. A happy mommy is a good mommy. Yes, breast milk is liquid gold and whatever, but is liquid gold worth it if you suffer in other ways to get it?
5. TRYING TO MAKE OTHERS HAPPY
I royally screwed things up by introducing a bottle because I wanted others to feel involved. I believe this was due to me wanting my boyfriend to feel needed by our baby, as well as, worrying about visitors feelings. I felt bad taking baby away from people when they were there to visit. That is such an unfair feeling! You just had a baby. You need time to bond as a family. Not your ENTIRE family. Your new immediate family unit. This is where I messed up, putting others feelings before the health and happiness of me and baby.
Including people in this new adventure is great, but don't include so much that you miss out on precious time with your baby! You'll just end up bitter and jealous, believe me! Don't be afraid to put a set of rules in place. Maybe you have people visit on Wednesdays and Sundays with a 2 hour visit limit. Maybe you'll even be barbaric and ask people to wash their hands before holding baby. Even better is when you ask people to stay away if they are sick. Miraculously, people tend to get better real quick. (eye-roll) LOL!
No one wants to miss out on a baby visit! Babies make people happy. If your family is like most and normal, you have some with depression, anxiety, mental illness, whatever it may be. Babies are unaware of such illness and anxiety. I think that's comforting for people with social issues. They aren't being judged by a peer or even someone that knows anything about them. So, do your best to be understanding of this need in your circle.
I struggled with this at first. I was, on-top-of-the-world, happy after having Tilly. It was hard to remember that my family/ friends were happy for me, but still had their own personal struggles. If you are like me, you are sensitive to peoples energy. It was difficult having sad people visit. Because of my newfound happiness, I could feel their sadness more than ever.
Whew! I know that was a long one, but I felt like I needed to explain, apparently in great detail, why breastfeeding went wrong for me. Breastfeeding isn't just, suck boob, get milk. I went through a lot emotionally that absolutely affected my breastfeeding abilities.
It's natural. It's painful. It's emotional. You might gain a grey hair or two in the process. And, $hit, you might fail all together. It's NOT the end of the world. We live in a modern, convenient society where someone invented formula.
Thanks for stopping!
Until next time,
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Studies show that pregnancy alters our brains in order to be more responsive and helpful to our babies. This change can be permanent!
In college, I worked with a women that had 5 kids. One day, out of the blue, she says, "Don't have kids. The lack of oxygen to your brain during delivery kills brain cells. It's been proven. I've had 5 kids. How many brain cells do you think I've lost? A lot." I thought she was making a joke, but her facial expression never changed. She was 100% serious.
This awkward conversation made an impression on me. I believe, because lately I've been feeling flighty and scatter brained. Which is what my coworker was getting at with the 'loss of brain cells'. I wondered if she was really onto something. Whatever you want to call it; momnesia, pregnancy brain, mom brain, or loss of brain cells, from what I've found, it's the real deal. She was absolutely right; something indeed happens to our brains....
Using MRI to scan the brains of pregnant women and their partners before and after their first pregnancy, researchers determined that the first time mothers had less grey matter than that of the comparison group, 20 women who had never given birth and 17 of their male partners. The first time fathers in this study showed no brain change, suggesting that the changes a woman's brain goes though are real and not just sleep deprivation and being new to parenthood. The volume loss was mostly seen in areas associated with memory and social understanding. Women whose brains changed the most showed higher attachment to their baby. These changes were still present 2 years later! Research doesn't go beyond the 2 year mark, so we don't really know how long mom brain can really last.
Apparently, this is much like the brain changes that happen to us all during adolescents. The increase in hormones decreases our grey matter. This does not necessarily mean decreased brain activity. Actually, there seems to be increased activity in the now thinned out areas of the brain. It's as if our brains reorganize themselves. This makes sense for postpartum women. Our brains are now maternally wired to take care of our babies, NOT remember what we ate yesterday for breakfast. LOL!
Pregnant or planning to get pregnant? Here's what to expect:
YOU WILL FORGET EVERYTHING
Your baby will be quietly playing or sleeping. You will be droned out watching TV or surfing the net (mindlessly. Because you are sleep deprived and really just sleeping with your eyes open) when it hits you..... OH $H!T I'm someone's mother! You frantically try and remember where you last put your baby. Then you look over and realize she is still right where you left her 5 minutes ago. Three feet from you.
Inevitably, you will forget something when packing you or your baby's bag. You will THINK you have your shit together. You will be so falsely confident in this thinking. Case in point; Tylan dropped Tilly and I at the grocery one afternoon while he headed off to run a few other errands. We try and run errands around Tilly's nap time, so she can sleep through mundane adult necessities. LOL! Anyway, half way through shopping, the cart was already overflowing (damn toilet paper and paper towels!) and Tilly started to wake up. She sometimes wakes up hard, as if she was having a nightmare. Without opening her eyes, she starts crying right there in the middle of the canned goods aisle. It was at that moment I realized I forgot to pack her bottle. My stomach dropped. I started to sweat. I felt weak. I frantically texted and called Tylan to hurry up and come get us because we didn't have a bottle. I was in full on panic mode. He level headedly reminded me that I was standing in a grocery store and that grocery stores sell formula in a convenient ready made bottle. O.M.G. I felt pretty silly. I swear, when your baby cries, your brain just sorta turns to mush.
YOU ARE DUMBER NOW
Your spelling suddenly reverts to that of a 1st grader. I shared a picture of Tilly and I dressed alike on Facebook. I spelled the popular hashtag, #twinning, as #twining. You know, twine. Like a ball of string. No one said anything. I'm not sure if I appreciate people not pointing out my stupidity, or annoyed that they let me look like that. Either way, I did it again when sharing a news article.
A manor in England is an estate, main house, or mansion ;)
Speaking isn't any better. Stuttering and stammering over words, Recalling stories out of sequence. It's like giving the punchline first and everyone is left confused. So, they just smile and nod awkwardly to make you feel as if you really completed a comprehend-able sentence. When really it sounded more like gurgling.
TIP: Keep your stories short. Don't bother trying to remember details. Even better? Stay quiet unless you are talking about baby. That's all your brain is wired for right now anyway.
Thanks for joining me!
Until next time,
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Pinnable image for Pinterest!