This post is about boobs. My boobs in particular. I really don’t care for the word “breasts”, but I’ll try to mix it up.
I grew up around boobs. Lol. Sounds weird – but it was a very normal thing for me to see my Mom breastfeeding my younger siblings. She called it booby juice. I think being able to speak lightheartedly about breastfeeding makes it less awkward.
I’m not going to preach on the benefits of breastfeeding – I’m sure you’ve probably heard all about it. If you haven’t, then let me google that for you.
Personally, it wasn’t something I considered too much before giving birth. I knew I would try to BF, and that if it worked out then “yah!” but if not, then oh well.
When Ginny was born, she was not placed directly on my chest. In fact, she was whisked away and intubated and didn’t come back to me until 15-20 minutes later. When I did get to see her she was wide eyed and rooting around. I wish now that I had gotten a video of the way she moves around when she’s searching for food. It’s cute and burned into my brain. I put Ginny to my left booby – and she started sucking immediately. I mention the side because to this day she prefers that side… which has resulted in my left booby being slightly larger than my right one – despite my best efforts to even things out). After a minute or two she stopped sucking, and her skin went from beautiful pink to slightly pallid. I mentioned to Awesome Nurse that she had stopped sucking, and AN whisked her away, whispering to another nurse softly as she moved Ginny to the baby heater/thingy in the room.
I didn’t know what was going on, but Ginny had stopped breathing. I’m going to be honest, I had no idea what was going on. Which is probably good – because I would’ve been freaking out. Just as the NICU doctor was about to use a defibrillator on my little baby… she started breathing again on her own.
It’s called apnea. Thankfully it only happened once.
From then on I thought it would be smooth sailing. Ginny almost refused to latch on to my right side, but I did my best to convince her.
I don’t remember how it felt the first time. But it did hurt. Even when the lactation consultant said her latch looked good… it was still uncomfortable. Because honestly guys… it’s a baby… sucking on your nipple. Out side of breastfeeding – how often do nipples really get sucked on? lol. It’s new, and takes some getting used to.
Just a quick note. For the first 3-5* days all your boobs make is colostrum. This is a thicker “milk”. In one book that I read it said that for every 10 minutes the baby nurses she gets 1 teaspoon of colostrum. It is nutrient pact, but doesn’t satisfy any kind of “thirst”. That is PERFECT because babies are born with too much water in their cells – and that weight they loose in the beginning is literally “water weight”. Once the milk comes in it has two phases (each time you nurse). The foremilk is to satisfy the babies thirst. Mine looks like waterdown milk. It is still white, but it is almost translucent. After a few minutes, the hindmilk comes out. This is the more nutrient dense version, and it’s consistency is a lot more like 2% milk (in looks and consistency).
(* this is the average, and what they say in hospitals and books – but it is not true for every one.)
The first week B-man and I diligently tracked her feedings. We woke her up every three hours and fed her. My nipples still hurt. The lactation consultant had said it takes 3-5 days for the milk to come in, but at 4 days my milk had still not come in. Ginny was nursing constantly and still screaming. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong as I diligently fed her as much as I could. At midnight I called my Mom crying. I was doing everything I could, giving her everything I had, and she was still crying.
I handed my screaming baby to my Mom and collapsed in the rocking chair, while my Mom grabbed a bottle of the pre-made formula the hospital had sent home with us, and gave it to Ginny… who promptly stopped screaming and fell asleep after a few minutes.
Was there something wrong with me? Did I not have anything coming out? I was starving my baby! I felt like such a bad Mom. I wasn’t trying to starve her, but it hadn’t even occured to me to give her some formula.
That night I gave up all modesty. Up until that point I had been very embarrassed about breastfeeding, about having my boob out of my bra. But that night my Mom told me how to “hand express” milk, so that I could actually SEE that stuff was coming out.
At 7 days we went in for a check-up. Typically the doctor does a 48 hr check-up, and then a 2 week check-up, but because Ginny had lost a lot of weight in the first two days we came back at 1 week to check her weight again. But she was still down, so the doctor gave us more (free!!!) formula. So for the next week, each time I would nurse Ginny, I would also give her formula through a small syringe that I would put into her mouth next to my nipple.
It took almost 9 days for my milk to come in. How did I know it came in? Well friends… it is pretty obvious. My breast were hard. Poke your cheek bone. You feel that? Yah… your cheek bone under your skin. I would say that is what it felt like to poke my own boobs. Yes – they were that hard.
But here’s where things got complicated. This is when Ginny had thrush. This is when she stopped nursing completely and was barely willing to take a bottle. So here I am with engorged boobies that hurt like h*** and a baby that wouldn’t nurse.
I had no intentions of buying a breast pump – but out of chance a friend of mine had been given a new own, so she passed on the one that she had already owned to me! So every time my husband fed Ginny a bottle, I would sit on the couch and pump. I would pump for 20 minutes and barely anything would come out, just enough to relieve a tiny bit of the pressure. It was very painful and uncomfortable – but it only lasted about 2 days. If Ginny had been able to nurse it probably would’ve gone down sooner.
I’m not a fan of pumping and try to avoid it at all costs. This is my own opinion.
It took another two days to get the thrush treated and cleared up. And this is when I realized that what my Mom said at the hospital was true:
The best breast pump is your baby.
Once Ginny’s thrush was cleared up she went right back to the boob. I feel so lucky that after all of these challenges she was resilient and still breastfed. I’ve heard so many people who’ve been unable to breastfeed because of small hiccups in the process of feeding their baby. So seriously – after all of this I am feeling really lucky.
My little Ginny is a month old today. Now for the secret it took almost 4 weeks for me to get this breastfeeding thing down. It took that long for every latch to be a good latch. It took that long for Ginny to willingly latch onto my right side. And ya know what? We still supplement with formula on occassion. When my Mom baby sits for us, Ginny gets a bottle. When I’ve stayed up all night with a baby that needs to burp and I lay her down just for her to sleep for 30 minutes, my husband gives her a bottle so that I can sleep. The next night, when Ginny has been nursing for over an hour and is still awake, half an ounce of formula tops her off and she sleeps almost the entire night.
I’ve been breastfeeding for a month. I have done a lot of supplementing with formula. I give my baby a pacifier** when she falls asleep nursing and wakes up when I take her off my boob. I give her a pacifier in the car. Binkies and bottle nipples have not cause any nipple confusion.
Why do I do it? I didn’t feel in particularly inclined to breastfeed before Ginny was born. But I planned to do it because it is free (win!) and easy (because I love my sleep and didn’t want to be making bottles at all hours of the night). Now I do it because it is free (win!) and easy.
But don’t be fooled. It’s not always the easiest thing. Having something that is so dependent on you, and you alone, is incredibly stressful and when things go wrong (like taking 9 days for your milk to come in), you feel very responsible for the screaming baby in your arms.
This is what works for us.
If you have a baby and have posted about breastfeeding before – feel free to leave a link to your post!
If you’ve had a baby, did you breastfeed? Was it always your plan, or just something that happened? Was it what you expected?
If you have not had a baby, what do you think about breastfeeding? Is it something you’ve thought about before? Tell me your thoughts, and questions! If I can’t answer them, there are several other Mamas that read this blog – so hopefully they can chime in too!
** People often “tisk” when I say we give her a pacifier. She’s been sucking on one since she was a day old. The NICU doctor told me about non-nutritive sucking. It’s a real thing, and several studies have shown that babies do benefit from the sucking – and that it is not solely for nutrition. Look it up… very interesting stuff!