Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 Months of Breastfeeding...

...and hopefully at least 10 more.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week and all the breastfeeding posts I've been seeing I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on Sonja and I's experiences with breastfeeding.

My experience with breastfeeding started BEFORE birth.
My midwife's office was hosting a class with Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC, RLC. for expecting mamas.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to go since the class was $30 and to me breastfeeding sounded simple enough.  Insert nipple into baby's mouth. the end.  But after talking to my midwife, I thought I could learn something from the class so I went.
It was a very informative class.  Simple. Direct.  We watched short videos, we talked about our expectations, Lori told us what was "normal" what was not and so on.  It was the best $30 I could have spent.  Instead of waiting until I had problems with my baby, I knew what to expect and how to handle them.  I also wasn't a scared hormone shocked new mama being force fed info with a new baby in my arms.  I was attentive.  I was able to listen and learn.  I doubt I would have had a good experience if I had waited until Sonja was in my arms to get positioning or latching advice.
My advice to expecting mamas GET HELP BEFORE THERE'S A PROBLEM!
After Sonja's birth, our midwife waited about an hour then suggested everyone including Daddy leave the room.  As much as dads should be included in all things baby, breastfeeding is between the mother and baby.  And therefore, I believe Dads should wait to be involved with breastfeeding until it's well established, then he can watch baby eat, hold baby's hand, support mom.  Until it's well established, he's just a distraction.  Anyway, my lesson from the group class kicked in, Nose to Nipple, Big Open mouth, LATCH!  it worked.  It was exciting, weird and painful. But it wasn't supposed to be, that's what EVERYONE said.  It should not be painful.  I thought we were doing something wrong.  and before I knew it she was off.  was she full?  was any milk coming out?  did we do it right?!  
I was concerned.  Luckily, my midwife was in the next room so after a few moments of letting us experiment, she came in and asked if we need support.  I asked her everything and she answered.  Everything looked normal.

For the first 2 weeks I was in a lot of pain, engorged and sore.  I asked EVERYONE to check her latch, and everyone said it looked good.  but it hurt.  My mom gave me the best advice, she told me her doctor told her the first 2 weeks are the hardest, but if you make it through that you'll have great success.  So, we powered through.  I was making so much milk I was leaking through all my nipple pads.  I hand expressed a lot of milk, which I ended up dumping! because I didn't know how to store it properly :( 
I also found the book, Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, extremely helpful. I think all new moms should read at least one breastfeeding book.  There is just too much information to not have a reference for questions!
After the first 2 weeks it got better, no more pain, no more wishing I could just give her a bottle, no more extreme leaking, although I was properly hand expressing and storing after that.  

I breastfed...
at the park
at the mall
in the kitchen
in the living room
at the tattoo shop
on the street corner
on the beach
at the midwives office
in the car
in the back yard
in the front yard
at the grocery store
at the farmer's market

I breastfed...
standing up
sitting down
laying down
football hold
cradle hold

I also started saving my milk to store and donate to Eats on Feets.  My midwife, Shell Walker, started a page on facebook to connect moms with milk with moms without.  It's become a global success and I wanted to help.  Sometimes moms can't make enough. Sometimes they can't make any at all.  Sometimes the moms were never pregnant (adoption) so they need milk.  Sometimes gay dads want milk for their babies.  Whatever the reason, breast is best.  So, I found a one time recipient and offered her my milk, her and her adopted daughter and family were visiting the Phoenix area and she needs a few day's supply.  Now I'm no over producer, just a little more than necessary producer so I saved the milk and gave them a 30oz stash.

I was working for about an hour to two a day just three weeks after giving birth.  I'd hand express a few ounces everyday for the next day and keep it in the fridge, sometimes she'd drink it sometimes not.  I wasn't sure why she didn't like it.  I thought maybe it was the bottle's nipple or the temperature or maybe she just wasn't hungry.  But I didn't worry about it since it was such a short time that she needed it.  It wasn't until a vegan friend of mine tried my milk (sort of as a dare, since he hadn't had milk in three years!) and mentioned it had a strange after taste that I thought I should look into it.  I tasted a sip myself and realized why she didn't like the bottles.  It tasted like soap.  Excess Lipase. After 24 hours in the fridge the milk would usually get too much lipase causing a soapy taste.  I wouldn't want to drink it either!  Anyway, by the time we figured it out it was almost summer so we didn't treat the milk, I just stopped storing it in the fridge for longer than a few hours.  During the summer, she never had a bottle, and I'm interested to see how she does with me teaching again this fall.  It will be such a short time, she shouldn't even need milk during it...

Recently, at a local Eats on Feets meeting I was able to breastfeed not only one but two babies!  It was great to fill a belly of another baby.  I love my Eats on Feets mamas.  They are such caring loving women.  They want the best for their babies.  Some of them are moms who can't make milk, some of them are adoptive parents.  Some of them donate their milk.  Some of them support other moms donating milk.  I feel so blessed to have a supportive community to share milk with.  If you're interested in Eats on Feets, comment or send me an email ( and I will tell you everything I know, I can also get you in contact with the admins so you can start a chapter in your area!

Sonja got jealous, so I got to practice a tandem nurse!

And here we are, 10 months of sweet success, now battling Thrush.  I'm so thankful that we've had such a great experience in the past, I think it will make this hurdle so much easier.  I'm also thankful to not have experienced mastitis, although even moms who choose to formula feed can get breast infections from engorgement during the drying up process.  I'm also thankful I knew my rewards from breastfeeding, a baby with a strong immune system, a lowered risk of breast cancer for myself, and a FREE food source for my daughter for the first year of her life!  

If you've breastfeed for a day, a week, a month or year, I'd love to read about it.  Link up your story below!

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  1. You actually offered my little dude some milk almost a year ago through Eats of Feets! i was SO thankful for the offer (I think amt or something didn't work at the time)So glad you're able to help some mamas & babes :)

  2. Wonderful posts and pictures, thanks for sharing!

    Visiting from Natural Parents Network!