Image via WikipediaFriday is my baby girls first birthday, and that means (among other things), closing some chapters in our life. The one thing on the forefront of my thoughts for this week is tossing out my nursing bra's. I realize this may not be the thing many people blog about, but I need to be able to have some closure on this subject. Although nursing exclusively has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, it has also been one of the most rewarding. I know I have done the very best I could, and have given my daughter the best thing possible to start her life. I have such a sense of accomplishment knowing that. I have developed a wonderful bond with her, and even during those moments when I am so frustrated with her, I can only stay mad for so long when I'm nursing my baby. I have loved every minute of it, and while I am happy to be done, it's bittersweet. I have two more evenings with my little girl, and then she is on to bigger and better things! Today I will finish packing up my breastpump and all the supplies and store them away for the next time around. I realize I could continue (and some people do) for however long, but to me, it just gets harder to stop the longer you wait after a year.
And, because it's my blog, and I can write what I want, here is a list of things that I have learned or found extremely helpful in breastfeeding, should any of my readers need some insight for the future. . . .
*Make the decision NOW. Don't hem and haw about it, you need to know where you stand!
*Buy some cheap nursing bra's in different sizes first. Don't spend any money on good nursing bra's right away. You won't be going out in public for a little while anyway.
*If your baby isn't latching on right, you may have flat or inverted nipples (apparently, lots of people do). Don't feel bad, or think you can't nurse. Try a nipple shield! They should have them at the hospital, and they were a LIFESAVER for me. You won't need to use it forever!
*Some people think that because they are allergic to milk, their baby will be allergic to milk and therefore can't breastfeed. WOW! Sooooo not true. You are not producing cow's milk! Human milk is NOT cow's milk! Besides, regular formula's are cow's milk based, so that would increase the chance of an allergy, if anything would. (I actually had a fellow nurse think this!)
*Be persistent! It DOES take a lot of work! You should be nursing every 2 hours for your milk to come in. Your milk should be in within 5 days of delivery. You do not need to give formula in the meantime, baby's body was built to hang in there! They have a layer of brown fat which will give them the calories they need until your milk comes in.
*Breastfed babies need to eat every 2 hours, formula fed babies only need to eat every 3 hours. Although breastmilk and regular formula are both 20cal/ounce, formula is thicker and sticks around longer (I once had a mexican family who, on admission, stated they were feeding their 3 month old 8oz ever 2 hours! Holy cow! NOT healthy! I had to give them some instruction. . )
*If you aren't sure if you are making enough milk, as long as your baby is gaining weight, things are good. If you still want to check things out, invest in a breastpump. We bought ours off of Craigslist for about 100 bucks. Best investment EVER! Although baby's suckling is the best, a pump with get the job done!
*There are tons of herbal supplements out there that can help you make more milk. Lactacte Support, Fenugreek, Mother's Milk Tea, just to name a few. I got them at a Whole Foods Market.
*And, believe it or not, you can actually purchase breasmilk. Don't scrunch your face and go "Ewwww!". Although I never purchased any, my friend donated her milk. They screen it to make sure everything is clean and safe. I figure, if you can get a blood transfusion, or someone else's organs, or even drink milk from an animal that craps where it wants and chews cud, why not buy breastmilk?
There are TONS of resources to get help, and you can always ask me, I've been there! It's been a crazy ride, but I am glad I am done :)