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Second time’s a charm

January 25, 2011

All I had ever heard about breastfeeding was “if you are doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt.” No offense, older lactation consultants, but you must have blocked out early memories of raising your children. The first few sleepless weeks, endless diaper changes, and fumbling with engorged breasts at 2 am must have been lost to you if that is the BS you are spreading.

When Finn was born I was all ready to breastfeed. I knew before we even had kids I wanted to- the research showed how beneficial it was to mama and baby, not to mention it’s free! I had a relatively easy labor and delivery; recovery a little harder due to major tearing and episiotomy. All of that probably added to my stress as a first time mom and not knowing what the hell I was doing. I credit my husband to being my rock, holding Finn’s arms back as he lashed from side to side frantic to eat and not latching correctly. He was a barracuda when he ate, gaining well above average in ounces a day. I knew my milk supply was fine, but I could not get over the pain. My doctor had put me on meds for pain, and when I was on them I was fine. Then I ran out of meds, and at 2 weeks I dreaded putting him to my breasts. Finally, Jeff and I discussed it one night. “I think you should just pump,” He said. I agreed that the pain was not easy to bear, and I cried (a lot due to my mild case of baby blues and also knowing I might miss out on the special bonding from breastfeeding) but knew it was what I had to do to heal and be myself again. So I pumped…and pumped….and pumped.

For an entire year I pumped to feed Finn exclusively breast milk. I got so good I could pump AND feed him a bottle at the same time. I had my daily pumping schedule and fit them in during naps and lunchtime. When we would travel, I would bring a friend’s nursing cover and pump at the airport when it was time. I am sure people looked at my like I was nuts when my baby was sitting right next to me. My other SAHM friends though I was crazy too. A lot of them had already weaned their kids to formula around 6-9 months. I had tried formula on occasion but some made him vomit and sometimes he just refused to eat. It wasn’t like I was hurting on milk. I decided that if I was doing it, I was doing it all out until he could switch to cow’s milk. Today, he is a happy, and mostly healthy 2 year old. I would do the same thing if I had to do it all over again.

Right now, I have a 2 1/2 week old son, Emmet. He is already thriving well and almost gained a pound in two weeks. This time around, I knew I was going to give the breastfeeding thing a go again. Also knowing, if I had a hard time again, I would pump as I did with Finn. I also knew what to expect. I told myself, I will push through this initial pain and make it work. Pumping exclusively will be my last resort!

A lot of people have issues with military medicine. They think we have less options for care. In some cases and locations, that is true. Here in Corpus, they have a wonderful FREE service available to mamas- a visiting nurse/lactation consultant. They even call YOU when they find out you have been referred off base to an OB. So I met with a nurse and told her of my woes with FInn, and we came up with a plan. I have flatter nipples, and that was part of my initial problems. So I used breast shells the last part of my pregnancy to prepare and draw the nipples out. In the hospital I made sure I was signed up for rooming in with Emmet so he was available whenever he wanted to eat. So here we are at 2 1/2 weeks and I can’t tell you how much better it is going. A little initial pain, but hardly anything in comparison to Finn. And no sores, no bleeding, no cracking. It has been such a relief. I have pumped here in there so in a week or so I will introduce a bottle. I think it is good to have Dad feed too.

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