1. Tell us about your personal breastfeeding experience with your children:
Justin started rooting around and latched on for the first time within 20-30 minutes of being born. I won’t take credit for it; we were blessed to have an awesome doula there with us that got us off to a good start. In reading the other stories here, I thought mine would be boring since we didn’t have any problems. That was the selective memory working hard to forget the spit up and blebs.
I used to call him the Spit Up King, and for the most part spit up is just a laundry problem and the child will grow out of it. It looks like so much when it comes out, but it usually isn’t more than a tablespoon or so – if they are messing in the diapers they are getting plenty of nutrition. I said for the most part because one of the reasons he would spit up on my breast in the middle of the night the first few weeks was because I had such a strong “let down” that my milk was basically shooting down his throat and gagging him. Once I learned to pump for a minute or two before picking him up we were fine.
I developed milk blisters twice when he was 1 year and 2 ½ years. Both were caused because my little man was getting lazy and not latching properly. The first time I gritted my teeth, bit into a washcloth to keep from screaming at times and nursed through it. The second time I tried for a few days and then decided it was time to wean. It was a rough first few days, but by placing band aids on my nipples and telling him I had “owies” so the milk was gone he gave up. But not until after he checked my nipples a few times a day and once tried to nurse on a mole I have a few inches below my breast.I am definitely glad I nursed him as long as I did, but I would be lying if I said there weren’t times I wanted to be done. The only times now I wish we were still nursing is when he is sick – if he is nauseous I know my milk would have been the easiest thing for him to digest and if it is a head cold the motion of nursing would have helped clear his sinuses. But mostly it is the comfort factor. In fact he just had a cold last week and more than once he curled into my lap and stuck his hand down my shirt just to touch my breast.
2. What is your view of breastfeeding in public, and why?
I did not nurse in public often, mostly because Justin hated to be covered and was so easily distracted that he’d look around taking my nipple along for the ride with his mouth (OUCH!). Oddly, I felt more comfortable nursing in front of total strangers than I did around my family – just never felt comfortable around my dad or father-in-law.
Recently, I walked up to a woman that was nursing an older baby at Sea World and told her I loved what she was doing. She was quietly sitting on a bench off to the side, not covered, but not showing anything either. She was a bit stunned at first then she smiled back and whispered thanks. There were more than a few young women showing more than she was at the park that day as they trooped around in the two band-aids tied with string that they called a bikini top.
3. What is your view of sustained breastfeeding, and why?
Originally I figured we would stop sometime around 1 year, then I turned around and we had been going for 2 ½ years. It’s what worked for us. That’s probably the one point I would emphasize to all new parents: you are going to get lots of conflicting advice and hear plenty of stories on all matters concerning parenting, but in the end trust your instincts and do what you believe is right for your family.
4. What is your view of adoptive breastfeeding, and why?
Honestly, I didn’t know a woman could produce milk if she has never been pregnant until I started learning about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. I think it is an incredibly loving act and can only imagine how much dedication it would take to start lactating.
Not really. Sometimes I feel guilty that it was so easy for us when I know so many women that could not breastfeed no matter how much they wanted and how much they tried.
6. Is there anything you wish you did differently?
This may seem like a weird thought, but I wish I had made some cheese with my pumped milk for Justin to eat as one of his first foods. But, if you stop and think about it, which is weirder, to make cheese out of human milk or to make it out of milk from a different species.
7. Is there anything you would like to add?
Never underestimate the power of support – and I don’t just mean a good nursing bra (though that does help).
I am blessed to have an incredibly loving and supportive husband as a partner in parenting and in life. He went to all of the classes with me, and even encouraged a few men to go along to the breastfeeding classes. He was right there reminding me of things I forgot, shoving food and drink in my mouth, taking Justin for a few minutes so I could pump once we figured out the let down problem.
I also had an awesome support group at our local hospital, led by a lactation consultant that also happened to be our doula. I still chat with the women in the group and would be lost without them listening to my seemingly endless insecurities about parenting. If you can’t find a group that meets in person, you might want to research an online group – anything to give yourself some adult contact and a voice of reason when you are stressed out.