Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breastfeeding. Show all posts

Friday, July 31, 2020

What No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

I had read countless blogs and forums on breastfeeding. And when it was time for my milk to come in and start this beautiful journey, I had many appointments with lactation consultants. On top of that, I had family and friends who had walked me through cluster feeding and my milk finally coming in.

And after the ups and downs of breastfeeding my first child, I thought I was an old soul when it came time to breastfeed my second child. After all, I was a veteran breastfeeding Mama who spent countless hours in bathrooms, nursing rooms, doctors offices, and my home either breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk for my baby.

And just like that, my milk actively came in much faster with my second baby. I don't think I used any formula to supplement this time. I felt at ease. 

The oxytocin produced during the feedings was needed amidst the chaos of becoming a family of four in forced isolation due to COVID-19 (thanks 2020). I can still remember that feeling as I navigated the postpartum discomforts and new life adjustments.

And here we are with still so many surprises. I wanted to make a short list of surprises I learned while breastfeeding.



 

No One Told Me Children Can be Ready to Move on Without You

My second child is a baby led weaning kid. Here I had this tiny human envying our every single meal. And after he grew his first tooth, he would get actively upset about being excluded from meals. We made it ritual to introduce new foods to him even if only in taste.

He adapted to cow's milk without a blink. And he adapted to water and the sippy cup without many issues. 

Most importantly, he hasn't met a food he didn't like. 

Which brings me to now. No one told me that my child would be the one shrinking my breastmilk supply and not the other way around to "wean" the baby off breastmilk. 

No One Told Me About the Absolute Discomfort Before My Milk Fully Came In

I’ve seen terms like “pain” and ”engorgement” floating around forums, but I had never thought in a million years that it was going to hurt to feed my baby. Or to out on clothes, move around, or just take a shower. 

I remember struggling to feed my baby. I remember my child being hungry and having to supplement with formula. Lots of sleepless nights full of feedings and washing bottles were a new kind of routine. But what I also remember was the absolute discomfort as my milk first came in. 

I think every body is different and no one wants to talk about the discomforts of breastfeeding in order to it scare anyone away, but it’s there at first for some.

Thankfully, this was not the experience with my second child. 

No One Told Me That Babies Can Have Favorite Bottles

It's the grip. Dare I say more? 

The bottle that is the easiest to grasp and hold wins. 

And this requires me to update my original Baby Bottles article with an update. Maybe I should just write a new one, "Bottles Preferred by Babies." The small glass bottles are too heavy. The soft bottles in the shape of an oval don't have the grip. And, insert sarcastic "who knew" that the Kiinde bottle system, the one I used almost exclusively for breastmilk was the favorite and easiest to grasp. Perhaps it became my child's favorite because it was a "sure thing" without a bad surprise of formula once my breastmilk supply dropped from hormonal changes and stress. 

No One Told Me Busy Babies Don't Follow the Same Schedule 

This was a blessing, let me explain. I like to go out into parks and nature that still has enough of an audience and enough of natural dangers that I don't feel comfortable juggling a breastfeeding baby and an active toddler. Sure I could pack a bottle, but then I would have to either train my child to drink cold milk or carry an additional thermos with hot water. 

I was very lucky and blessed that as long as my child was not bored, e.g. we were exploring a lake and there were geese and people fishing and hiking, I was fine. He didn't care for food. And then he adjusted to being hungry when we got home without a change in attitude. And I know why this is happening, we have night feedings and he never goes without although I know that his body can be trained in time. 

No One Told Me Feedings Laying Down Are Easier

It happened by accident with my first. He was laying beside me and just found his way. And that was how I realized that I got a break by feeding while laying down!

Not all babies might like it, I think it depends on the situation. But if it's possible, I will make it happen. 

Using a floor bed was a great way to have this feeding method in our lives because I would just lay next to the floor bed on a cushy fleece blanket and feed my child. 

I am in no way saying it is okay to fall asleep like this, in fact, I think that would be super dangerous if you are on one same uneven surface. There is however, nothing stopping you from relaxing while you are laying down. There are no pillows to arrange, or a comfortable chair to find. There are no muscle aches involved from supporting your child's body in a position conducive to breastfeeding. 

No One Told Me I Would Be Dreading Stopping Breastfeeding

I remember the first few months after I stopped breastfeeding my first child. Everything became better and easier. It was easier preparing for daycare. Then, my day was easier at work because I did not have to break to pump nor judge my food intake. It was easier going places with a bottle or a sippy cup without worrying about finding a quiet corner or a private room. 

I was thinking the second time around would be similar. And again, I was surprised I did not want to move on. I did not want to have easier mornings, better days at work, or easier planning. 

I know that the time is going to come soon enough, but this year has taken my sense of chronological order away from COVID-19 and personal chaos of adjusting to being a family of four. Stopping breastfeeding at the one year mark would force me to admit that my baby is no longer a baby but a toddler. Toddling onward to his next chapter towards independence.

No One Told Me Pumps Would Just Break

A pump is a working breastfeeding Mama's best friend. And I thought that it was a technology mainly free of hiccups. 

Well, I am four pumps in. 

I used the first two while breastfeeding my first baby and now I went through two more with my new one. And it is not the pump's fault by any means. They had just worked really hard. 


 

Not All Pumping At Work is the Same

While I think it would be nice is every working and nursing parent received a safe and relaxing space to pump at work, this simply is not the case across many states. Some parents have even stopped breastfeeding their children because the logistics of pumping at work just didn't work out. 

I have pumped in bathrooms, in restaurants, in designated nursing rooms, in my office, in conference rooms, in my car, and in storage closets.

It is rough out there and you have to adjust. It might mean you have to carry spare batteries because there being no plug, or it might mean just manually expressing milk if a pump is not an option at all. 

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