Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Breastfeeding Story

I cannot remember what convinced me to breast feed my baby.  When I became pregnant with Elliot there was never a question as to whether I would breast feed or formula feed.  I just knew.  I cannot remember a time I was not passionate about giving my baby breastmilk.  (I did not really think about it before I got pregnant, which is why I find it surprising I do not remember what caused me to make the decision.)  All the research I did convinced me that I would do it, and only medical emergency could change my mind.  Also, many "medical emergencies" are not really emergencies at all and I could still stick it out.

I am sharing this because I hope it will help others.  Breastfeeding is certainly not easy and there are many factors that can make it even more difficult.  There are physical factors such as inverted nipples, tongue-tied, and low milk supply.  There are other factors such as misinformed doctors and unhelpful family members.  I want mothers to feel supported and not judged, no matter what their decision.  However, I think it is important that all mothers know how truly important it is.

I had to capture this.  He always puts his one arm up like that. He keeps me modest ;) 
I breast-fed Elliot until he was 9 months old.  I started to supplement formula because of a surprise pregnancy and honestly, I was just exhausted.  I did not have a pump and I needed to give other people the option to feed Elliot.  Now, when I look back at my decision, I am sad I started the formula.  I try not to feel too much regret, because I know that guilt is useless.  I made the decision and I cannot change it.  However, it will help me to make a better decision for Asher.  (Not that I plan on getting pregnant anytime soon, though!  But while I will not be pregnant, having two babies can equal similar exhaustion!)

My experience with breastfeeding Elliot was pretty uneventful.  He spit up a lot and was super active, but he always ate.  He enjoyed eating and his rolls could testify to that!  Asher, on the other hand, has been my challenge.  He latched right after he was born, so I was glad for that.  He gained weight instantly and his weight went up and up.  However, a couple weeks after birth he became extremely fussy every time I put him to the breast.  I had so much frustration because I was worried.  He would arch his back.  All the movement and the fight would cause him to throw up.  It was scary!  I'm not talking about spit up, but actually throw up.  Seeing a newborn throw up is one of the most frightening things.  Then, came the dreaded day.  At about 3 months we realized he hadn't gained any weight in about two weeks!  So, we decided to try reflux medicine.  Poor baby's throat was red and he must have been in so much pain.

When I look back at the first three months I realize how easily it would have been to give up.  He fought me all the time and because of the stress he would then spit up all he had eaten.  I cried and cried.  But now, when I watch him feed so easily I realize how happy I am that I did not give up.  So, here is my encouragement.  Don't give up- it will get easier!  Even if your child is losing or not gaining- just give it everything you got!  It is worth it.   I am grateful that even when Ash was not gaining weight, no one even suggested formula.  It's one of the benefits of living in Santa Cruz, CA. :)

breastfeeding Elliot for the first time!
Breast feeding is a beautiful and natural thing.  It can be hard, but worth it.

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