It Doesn't Have to be One or the Other | Back Home Again: It Doesn't Have to be One or the Other

Friday, May 10, 2013

It Doesn't Have to be One or the Other

Again linking up with Kaitlyn over at Wifessionals for Preparing for a Little One.

I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding - I think all mothers should try it and it makes me really sad when a mother chooses not to try at all. Cecily is exclusively breastfed and that is something I am extremely proud of. I don't know if it's because I've done this before or if I just got really lucky this time, but we haven't had a hard time at all  (which is not the norm!).
Breastfeeding Ewan, on the other hand, was a struggle from the beginning. When I was finally allowed to be with him, three hours after my c-section, he wouldn't latch. I was devastated. I bought into what I was told at my breastfeeding class about how if you place your baby on your chest they will magically find their way to your nipples and start nursing. Maybe some do that, but definitely not either of my kids!

I had a really awesome nurse who helped me, and I discovered that because my boobs are HUGE, my nipples were flat and I needed to use a nipple shield. Ewan would latch with this, but I knew that I needed to get him off of it because it can hurt your supply down the road and cause nipple confusion.
We were doing good at the hospital, but when we got home, it was a completely different story. Babies have a growth spurt around 5-6 days old and unfortunately due to my c-section, my milk didn't come in until 6 days postpartum. We got home at 5 days and all he did was scream unless he was eating. He actually cried himself hoarse. I didn't know what I do now and thought that he shouldn't be on the boob all the time (which in the early days, yes he did!), so I thought something was wrong with him. I called his pediatrician, who told me that we should try formula since my milk hadn't come in yet. I had always looked at breastfeeding as something I wanted to do exclusively and even though we had tons of formula samples in the house, I had every intention of donating them, not using them. But, try formula we did since we were desperate.

Because I was also recovering from a c-section and then at seven weeks postpartum, surgery from having my gallbladder removed, plus moving across the country when Ewan was two months old, he had formula on occasion, even though I primarily nursed him. However, he suffered from reflux and was a very fussy baby until 3-4 months old and I was never able to pump much to build up a freezer stash. What I did have was gone when I was unable to feed him right after my gallbladder surgery. So, when I went back to work, I had no choice but to give him formula at daycare and nurse him at home. I did, however, pump at work so that he could have one bottle of breastmilk and to keep up what supply I did have. While I was devastated that I couldn't give him only breastmilk, I took comfort in the fact that I was giving him everything I could, which was so much more than a lot of babies get.

So many women think that it is all or nothing - that if you aren't able to exclusively breastfeed, then you can only do formula. This is so not the case! While yes, supplementing with formula will eventually lower your supply, it is possible to do both - supplementing at daycare saved our breastfeeding relationship and I was able to nurse Ewan for a year.
I will say that exclusively breastfeeding Cecily this time around definitely has its advantages though. For one, it's free!  I don't even want to know how much money we spent on formula for Ewan, and it wasn't even all the time. Cecily has been much less sick than Ewan ever was as a baby, most likely because my antibodies transfer to her in breastmilk. Also, I can feed her anywhere and don't have to worry about if I'm mixing too much or too little formula because she just eats what she needs. While formula has come a long way since we were kids, it still isn't a true replacement for breastmilk. 

Breastfeeding is hard, especially in the beginning but it's so incredibly rewarding and empowering to know that my body has provided everything Cecily needs. Here's a post I made a few months ago about just how hard it can be. Probably the best advice that was ever given to me right after Ewan was born was to Take it one feeding at a time, one day at a time. Eventually it will get easier. Around six weeks, it so did! There are many resources out there for breastfeeding moms if you know where to look, kellymom.com being one of the best. There's also the breastfeeding community on LiveJournal (if you don't mind the snark), as well as your local La Leche League. Not to mention utilizing lactation while you're in the hospital or going to a lactation consultant after you go home (be warned that not all are created equal!). Asking women you know that have breastfed before can also be an invaluable resource! (hint hint...feel free to ask me anything!)

Some additional tips:

  1. drink LOTS of water and make sure you eat enough (yes breastfeeding burns calories like crazy, but if you aren't taking in enough it will affect your supply), 
  2. it will hurt in the beginning until you get used to it, 
  3. be prepared to take a nursing vacation in the early days (I know this sounds crazy, but it is completely normal to just sit on the couch with your little one latched on for HOURS while reading, watching tv etc.), 
  4. relax (easier said than done as a new mom, but your baby can sense when you're stressed and it makes everything that much more difficult), 
  5. be prepared to try several different positions - what works for us is the football hold
  6. and finally it is a learning experience for both of you!
While I think that every woman should give it a shot, ultimately you need to do what is best for you and your family. With Ewan, what was best was to supplement at daycare. This time around with Cecily, what's best is to exclusively breastfeed.




6 comments:

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  2. Great post :) And well done for being so determined and giving it your absolute best for both of your babies!

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  3. I HATE that people think it's all or nothing. My twins were born a month early and they were small and jaundiced so we practiced nursing but I had to pump in order to get my supply up and going. And since pumping isn't an awesome way to build a supply, I had to supplement with formula.

    They're 7 months old and nursing almost exclusively now. I really doesn't have to be all or nothing!

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  4. I love your line "so many women think that it is all or nothing"! Any amount of breast milk that a women can provide to their baby would do them SO much good. Especially in the first few weeks! I commend you for trying so hard your very first time and managing for an entire year in order to give Ewan what you could, in spite of all you went through. So glad it's gone much easier for you the second time around. I hope my second time will be a breeze as well!!!

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  5. Great post! I had a hard time my first time breastfeeding, and my second son wasn't easy to get started but we are rockin' now! I had to drink mother's milk tea and wear loose clothing to help produce too. It's wonderful and I am so glad I stuck with it!

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  6. This is a great post - I agree, it doesn't have to be just one or the other! I'm thinking we might have to start supplementing with formula for my daughter in the next few months, because my body isn't quite keeping up and I don't have a freezer stash built up that we can use - but I'm thinking I'll do a half and half thing for a while and still nurse her when I can!

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