I didn't set out to breastfeed initially. At least not before I got pregnant. I remember actually walking through the baby department putting together my list of "necessities"...crib, bathtub, carseat, formula. Yes, I read the canister and tried to figure out about how much a baby would go through a week and made up my mock budget. We weren't ttc (trying to conceive), but we'd talked about it (and later changed our mind, then later got pregnant because I can't do math correctly apparently). Breastfeeding didn't even occur to me...I knew that I was breastfed for 3mo and my younger brother for 6w, but I'd never seen anyone breastfeed and I didn't even know that you could breastfeed as the sole nutrition for your baby. I thought you HAD to feed formula.
But somewhere (A Baby Story or one of the parenting magazines I got in the mail while pregnant probably) I heard about breastfeeding and it finally struck me to start researching it. And I was sold, 100%. No formula would pass through the lips of my baby's, God willing. When my mother tried to convince me to buy some "just in case", I refused. When the neighbor passed on two giant cans she didn't need anymore, I donated them. I didn't want it in the house at all. I didn't want that option, I didn't want to give myself an opportunity to fail. I had faith that if I kept at it and prayed, that God would teach us how to be successful.
And then my son was born after a difficult labor (induced unnecessaril because my water broke and contractions didn't start right away and complications arose from all the medical-ness of everything). When they finally brought him to me, I tried to get him to latch on, and he did for like 3 half-hearted sucks, and he wouldn't again. I tried and tried with him every hour (minus the 2 1/2ish hours that my mother would NOT let me hold him while my exhausted husband slept). The lactation consultant came by and tried to help us, but he was not interested. The (mean) nurse came by and kept threatening us with formula, but the lactation consultant got wind of that and stopped the madness. The nurse was claiming that my son was starving but the LC ordered a blood glucose test and he was well within normal limits. She still left us with another threat that he'd have to have sugar water soon. 14 hours passed and the nurse rudely dropped off a bottle of sugar water and told us he HAD to have it soon. My grandmother was there and trying to get him to drink it and I noticed him take ONE suck and demanded my baby immediately. He finally nursed, Lord I was SOOOO happy. The next few weeks were rough, he was a lazy sloooooooow frequent eater and often I'd cry and pray through every feeding, begging God to help us get it right. On average, he'd nurse for an hour, and sleep for an hour, then nurse for an hour again. It was hard, but at the same time I liked it because it meant that no one got to hold him much, and I'm really not a sharing Mommy. I like to hold my babies. It did drive my mother crazy though, and she fought hard to convince me to wean him and told me all the time that he must not be getting enough because he was eating so often. My little man was a chubster though! All of my babies have started small (he was 6lbs15oz, my oldest daughter was 6lbs12oz, youngest son was 6lbs5oz, and my youngest daughter was 7lbs14oz...ok, she wasn't small) and they were all 12lbs by 12w, and 16lbs by 16w, and 18lbs by 6m, and so far they've all been 24lbs by their first birthday. No chance of a starving baby here.
My second baby came out hungry! She nursed within the first hour and never had any problems. We weaned her and her older brother at 3y9m. I had wanted to do child-led weaning, but my husband said it was time, and I obliged. In hindsight, I think it was the perfect age for MY kids. I plan on weaning the rest at the same time (barring any medical issues that would require them to have breastmilk for a longer period of time).
My third baby was 4w1d early and he was ready to eat too. I was worried that maybe he'd have a tough time, but he was a pro. And he's still nursing, usually twice a day, sometimes though he asks a few more times and I'll let him.
My 4th baby was ready to nurse not long after birth. She's in that distractable phase right now that oftentimes leaves me soaking wet and exposed, but it's all good. And she's a big girl! 19lbs even at 7mo.
One of the alleged "downsides" to all this breastfeeding here is that none of my babies have taken a bottle. Ever. We tried at least 12 different bottle/nipple combos with my first, and he just wouldn't ever take one. My mother ended up straw feeding him (holding her finger/thumb over the top of the straw to hold the ebm (expressed breast milk) then moving it to his mouth and dripping it in) on the few times she watched him for an hour or two, and by 5mo he could drink out of a straw. We tried a few bottles with my oldest daughter also so that I could leave her home while I went to a weekly church group when she was over 6mo, but she wouldn't have it. She could also drink from a straw by 6mo. We didn't even bother trying bottles with the youngest two, but they could both drink from a straw by 5 or 6mo. I really don't mind that they won't take bottles though because I'm never away from them (leaving my oldest was soooo hard, I cried everytime. I hated it, but I did it because everyone said that you "have" to, bologna I say now!).
I've also donated ebm twice. I felt a heavy conviction when my oldest daughter was a baby to donate, and I did to an adopted baby for a total of 7-8months. I wanted desperately to provide her with 100% ebm, but I could never get more than about 20oz in a day and it wasn't long before she was taking close to 40oz a day. Her adopted mother tried desperately to lactate and fed her with a Lact-Aid device, but it just never happened. I think it's neat that she still got that "nursing" bonding experience though. I felt a strong conviction again this time to donate, and I did for 4 months, again, maxing out around 20oz a day. This time my milk went to two different babies, one adopted again!
I look forward to one day seeing my beautiful daughters snuggling their sweet babies and nursing them, and I look forward to hopefully having more of my own to nurse. It truly is a glorious feeling to nourish your baby in this fashion. It's worth the milk-stained clothing and waking up soaked in bed and not being able to have anyone else "help" with the feeding (honestly, I prefer to do all the feeding myself). I just love it, and I'm so thankful that God has worked it out for us.
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
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