August is National Breastfeeding Month. That doesn’t mean though we need to stop thinking about breastfeeding at the end of the month. The way I see it, we need to be supportive of breastfeeding moms 12 months out of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I think its pretty awesome that so many things are done to create awareness in August, but let’s continue the momentum.
I’ve been very fortunate when it comes to breastfeeding. I get that. But I’ve fought for it too.
When I was pregnant with my oldest son, Sebby, my goal was to breast feed for a year. That almost got derailed when he was born – he was in respiratory distress and whisked off to the NICU – at a different hospital! While I was waiting to be transferred to be with him, he had a seizure. His complications kept him from being allowed to nurse right away. Luckily, I was able to pump, and exhausting as it was, I was determined to make sure my little guy got his mommy’s milk. I fought the doctors and nurses that wanted to give him formula because they wanted to feed him outside of his written care times. Thank you breastmilk pump. Thank you. Because of you and an awesome lactation consultant, we went on to breastfeed for just over two years.
When I found out I was pregnant with Quincy, I knew I wanted to breastfeed her right away. The first days and weeks with Sebby were really hard on me and I just wanted to bond with her right away. My body had different plans. Quincy was born at 32 weeks 3 days via crash c-section. BUT. When I woke up the morning after she was born, my breasts were engorged. I called the nurse to bring me a pump, and she thought I was trying to be a hero. And then I pumped 8 ounces. My body had kicked into survival mode and I actually had oversupply. But I kept pumping for weeks, months. Because I wanted to be able to nurse Quincy when she was ready. I found the NICU staff much more supportive that time around, and while I couldn’t nurse her as often as I would like to, we made it happen. Quincy went home after 5 weeks and 1 day in the NICU. She nursed like a champ, and like her older brother we made it past the two year mark as well.
Edison arrived without much fanfare, with the exception of being an unexpected VBAC. I was beyond thrilled to be able to nurse him right away – the lactation consultant started to walk in the room when I was nursing him, (and had been since minutes after he was born, less the time he was getting his newborn workup done) and said “Oh you don’t need me”. He’s going to be 18 months soon, and we’re still chugging along. He’s much more mobile than his siblings were (Sebby was nearly two before he walked and Quincy was nearly three) so we don’t snuggle a whole heck of a lot – so he isn’t as into the boob as his siblings, but he still loves his mommy milk. He’s my last, and he can nurse as long as he wants too, but I admit, I am nervous about that last day, and it makes me sad, even though it hasn’t come yet. I am traveling a lot more now, and away from him, and I worry about the impact that will have on him. But, I’m taking it one day at a time.
If you’re still reading, know that I am your biggest breastfeeding cheerleader. I want you to overcome your breastfeeding hurdles and have a bond with your baby like no other.
Here’s my advice:
If you’re having even the tiniest bit of trouble, talk to a lactation consultant. I was blessed with two that were just amazing and I credit them with helping me with my journey
If you have the unfortunate experience of the NICU, a breast pump is your friend. Even if it seems like you are getting nothing, those droplets are liquid gold for your baby. A good pump makes this so much easier.
Get a good breastfeeding pillow or two. Being comfortable makes all the difference.
If you’re in the NICU, get as much as skin on skin time/kangaroo care as possible. Even if you can’t breastfeed right away.
Have a couple of shirts that are easy to nurse in. Everyone finds something that works for them, but this makes a difference,
Ask for help. Know that you are not alone.
**originally published 8/25/14. And yes, I’m still breastfeeding Edison.