We have all heard that "Breast is Best". So when Elaina was born this mantra would run through my mind as I frantically tried to nurse her. Nursing was a nightmare with Elaina (we're talking open sores and bleeding). I got home from the hospital and bawled my eyes out for days because we'd try nursing and then I'd end up giving her a bottle because she would just scream and not latch on. She had no problems with the bottle. She preferred her bottle to me which tore my heart out.
I felt a ton of Mommy Guilt. My hormones finally calmed down. Then I realized how much more pleasant our feeding sessions were when she was calm with her bottle. That I could actually gaze at her and she could take her time and get nourishment. And yet I still heard that motto in my head: "Breast is Best". And I still felt this pang of guilt and remorse as I watched her eat from a bottle.
When I became pregnant with Abigail I was determined to make breastfeeding work! Unfortunately I didn't do enough homework. We've all heard, "If it hurts, they're not latched on properly!" Well, it really hurt when I tried feeding Abigail. I gave birth to her on the weekend and no lactation consultant was available. I ended up giving Abigail a bottle in the hospital thinking I was doing something wrong.
Turns out I was doing everything right and her latch was perfect. It can be very tender after birth, especially for fair-skinned women, when baby latches on. It is once the milk has letdown that you should not feel pain anymore in order to know if the latch is correct or not. The latch-on pain goes away by the time baby is a few weeks old.
But by the time I finally got the L.C. in my room I had to use a shield and it was just a big old mess. Abigail never wanted to wean off the shield but really loved nursing and breastmilk. I stuck with it, using shields, for three months before I couldn't take it anymore. We switched to formula. More Mommy Guilt.
It was hard not to hear "Breast is Best" in the back of my mind while cleaning bottles and changing stinky formula diapers or packing half of my diaper bag full of bottle-feeding supplies. It was hard not to hear it when I gazed at them as they drank from a bottle. It was hard not to feel that special connection that comes with nursing and to know I wasn't providing them with the very best, something that was actually a part of me made for them!
So please know that I've been on both sides of the fence as you read on.
Breastfeeding is going so amazingly well with this baby. I remembered the things I learned in the past, especially from my own mistakes. I stuck with it when the latch-on pain was excruciating (does not hurt at all now). I stuck with it when one position wouldn't work with Zoë until we found a position that did work without leaving me raw and aching. And I stuck with it without resorting to a pump or a shield. No outside help this time.
It's still in the learning stage for us but it's getting to the point that she knows when I grab the Boppy that it is feeding time and she starts doing her little newborn grunts and snorts in excitement. She is also to the point that she'll have her mouth open and ready, too.
We co-sleep and so I'll often wake to her furiously attacking my chest with her face, sometimes even in her sleep! And she has latched on to me in a place other than where she should and left me with some lovely hickeys too. I'm sure to use that as blackmail when she's a teenager...
I pumped a bottle the other day for her because she wasn't eating as frequently and I could tell my supply was starting to dwindle. I was just going to throw it out but then told Daniel he should give it to her. He was freaking out. He thought me pumping this one bottle meant failure because, as you read above, it didn't go so well with our other daughters.
Finally he gave it to her, mostly because she woke up to eat right after I finished pumping and the well was dry, so to speak! Her initial reaction was a look of utter disgust in having a synthetic nip.ple placed in her mouth. She kept spitting it out and smacking her gums with this look of horror on her face. Classic! After she downed the bottle in under 10 minutes she wanted to nurse. I gave Daniel a look of triumph and said, "I win!"
Needless to say he was relieved one bottle didn't ruin her nursing streak and I had the satisfaction of knowing that my baby preferred me, not something else!
Making an icky face!
Staring at Daddy!