Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Journey with Breastfeeding

I have four beautiful children.  Two boys and two girls.  All are healthy and strong, with the exception of the girls Epilepsy, of course.

When I had my oldest son, Winston, in December of 2000, I attempted to breastfeed but in this area, at that time there was barely any support for breastfeeding so I quickly gave up.  When my oldest daughter, Emmalee, arrived in 2003, I chose not to breastfeed because I wasn't sure how to explain the concept to Winston and I thought it would be a hard struggle to feed her that way.

In 2008, I had my youngest daughter, Laycie.  I decided to attempt breastfeeding again.  I prepared well ahead of time and learned all the things I should have learned with my oldest son.  Unfortunately, Laycie was born tongue-tied and was not able to latch well, which hindered our breastfeeding.  I attempted pumping for a week but before I could manage to build up my milk supply and get Laycie to have her tongue clipped, I lost my milk supply.  I was completely disappointed again.

Last August, Jackson was born.  He is my last baby and was my last chance to try breastfeeding.  It was slow going at first.  Since I had a c-section, my milk didn't immediately come in which is very common.  Jackson at and slept a lot in those first few days but even though he was eating, I wasn't producing a lot of milk.

We had issues with his latch to begin with too.  He was pinching more than sucking and my nipples quickly became sore and cracked.  Jackson quickly became jaundiced.  Because of that and my low milk supply, I was encouraged to pump.  Pumping caused even more damage to my nipples, making feeding a painful chore.  I was given lanolin cream to help heal my nipples and keep them from worsening as we adjusted to breastfeeding.

The first three weeks were the absolute worst.  Jackson's mouth was so little that he didn't get much into his mouth so the pain just stayed.  As he grew bigger, the pain lessened and my nipples healed.

Jackson is 4 months now and feeding is so much better for us.  There are days when he eats most of the day and days when he eats less but none of those days are painful any longer.  Jackson is a breastfeeding pro.

I used to think breastfeeding would be such a chore.  I used to believe that just giving my babies a bottle would be so much easier than even attempting this.  I was totally wrong.

Breastfeeding is the best and easiest thing I think I have done with my babies, next to changing their diapers. Seriously, getting them to go to sleep is harder than feeding this way.  Jackson latches on by himself and his suction is stronger than any pump can be.

It takes less time to feed Jackson than it did my other babies with a bottle.  There is little mess since I don't have tons of bottles to keep clean and ready for him to use.  I do pump and freeze that so he has milk to eat if I choose to leave him for a little while or if he needs a little extra during a growth spurt.  I have bottles that are used for those times.  I never realized just how simple and easy it is to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is the best decision I made for Jackson and I.  I only wish I had known then what I know now because I honestly would never have given up so easily in the past.  I enjoy the extra bonding time that breastfeeding has given us and that sweet closeness that I share with my son.  It's the best feeling to know he's happy, satisfied and well-fed.

My hopes in sharing this is to encourage anyone who is considering breastfeeding.  Learn all that you can and find a lactation consultant who can encourage and support you through your trials in feeding.  If I can do this, then know that you can too.  It will be well worth the effort in the end.

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