Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Most Natural Act...Yeah Right!

The first time I was introduced to breastfeeding was in my prenatal class prior to the birth of our first daughter Byllee. They showed us a video in the class, of a beautiful new born baby lying on her mothers chest, slowly descending down and instinctually latching on to her nipple. How beautiful, I thought and how natural is that? This should be a piece of cake I thought. I even prepared myself further, getting library books out on the topic, checking out Jack Newman's website and videos and also going to a few La Leache League meetings. I was confident I was ready for this responsibility.

With the image of the baby naturally latching on to her mother still in my head, I attempted my first time, minutes after birth and this is not what I experienced at all. God bless the mothers that do experience this, however from my experience and speaking to other mothers in the groups I've attended, the majority have a complete opposite experience in fact. The video they should have shown in my prenatal class was me with my second daughter screaming her head off as I forcefully tried to shove my boob into her mouth, all while crying myself...over and over and over again. This was reality! You would think after breastfeeding my first daughter for 11 months I should be some sort of an expert at it. Every baby is different and my second daughter was not nearly as "easy" to teach as my first. I found neither experience easy or natural in fact.

The first few days after my first daughter is really a complete blur, so I will talk about my second daughter, which was only 3 months ago and counting. I believe prenatal classes should have a complete segment on the first 48 hours after birth and breastfeeding (or however long it takes for your milk to come in). This has to be the most challenging time of all. Thankfully my second daughter, Jorja slept most of the first 24 hours. However once she "woke up" from birth, boy was she hungry and I felt I had nothing to offer her. The nurse that was coming off her shift that evening kept trying to offer me formula to fix the situation. If there is ever a wrong time to give formula, my guess would be this time. Unless there's a medical reason, the so called "nothing" you have to offer is probably the most important thing you could give the baby. Colostrum is full of antibodies, and nutrients that the baby needs at this critical time in his or her life. With this in mind, I politely declined her offer, however she left it on my bedside table and I just stared at it while my baby screamed for more. Once the my regular night nurse came on duty and it was 2am, I was at the end of my rope. I'll never forget how she came in after I rang the bell yet again for help with latching, and told me all the mothers she sees as patients look like me on night two. It's a necessary evil to endure, and she encouraged me not to give up. Simply pointing out that fact to me was enough to give me the strength to keep on going. Why didn't they mention this in birthing class I thought?

An unlikely form of support I found during the first few days and weeks breastfeeding was my husband. I suppose from watching me go through this with our first daughter and listening to all the advice with a more clear head then me, made him some kind of expert himself! The first time I noticed, was during a particularly hard time trying to trouble shoot with the nurse, why my daughter would not latch on to my "other side". My husband, Scott suddenly spoke up and said "why don't you try the football hold, that way her head is in the same position and it kind of tricks her into thinking its the same side". The nurse and I just stared at him in amazement...What a great idea! It worked wonderfully, and soon our on going joke was he should have become a lactation consultant. Finding humour in a time like this felt wonderful, so we kept going with the jokes and decided to play a joke on the new daytime nurse that never met us before. She walked into our room and asked if the lactation consultant had come in to see us. I replied "Oh, you mean the nice man that was just here?" Her face dropped and a look of horror came over her, we burst into laughter for quite a while over that one. I still chuckle when I think of a male lactation consultant. Unless your name is "Jack Newman", I don't think males would be too popular in the birthing unit at the hospital. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I would feel strange having a male man handle my boobs like the female nurses do when they are trying to help you.

Anyway, I am 3 months into round two with my second daughter Jorja and we are still having the odd issue believe it or not. I pump my milk a lot more then I did the first time thanks to a close friend who gave me her high end breast pump! It makes all the difference, compared to using "El cheapo" version the first time, when I finally said "to hell with this". I have no problem introducing formula at this stage, however with my over supply in the freezer, I haven't found the need yet. Last time, I felt like I had something to prove as a mother and demanded myself to exclusively breastfeed her for 6 months without formula. Looking back it seems so silly, but there really is a pressure to prove yourself when you are a first time mom. It doesn't help when its 3am and you have a screaming baby you are trying to latch, enduring intense pain and the "Good Start" baby formula commercial comes on T.V. You know the one that says "Happy babies makes happy moms"? The commercial shows babies giggling and laughing. That can really play on your mind when you are sleep deprived and you have a screaming baby. I know it did for me.

I suppose my message and point of this blog is only to encourage mothers what they are going through at the beginning is normal. Its suppose to be hell, and it's usually hell for all of us. Remember, colostrum is not something you can find in a bottle so if you can only hold out for 2 days and give that to your baby, you've done your job. Even if you can't, that doesn't make you any less of a mother, there are a thousand different scenario's and medical conditions that prevent mothers from breastfeeding. The point is, there's a thousand and one different right ways to do the same job and its up to you to find the one that works for you!

1 comment:

  1. You're nuts. Does your husband know you post such rubbish? He must be laughing his head off at your stupidity if he does know about this blog.