More About Breast Feeding

Tomorrow, I’ll be 24 and she’ll be 5 months. What a milestone for both of us.

We’ve been breast feeding successfully for five months. To this day, she has not had a drop of formula. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not boasting about that fact, rather, I am praising God for it. There were many moments when I feared that I wouldn’t make it this far.

Go ahead, tell me I’m being ridiculous. I would agree with you. I don’t know why I let breast feeding define me so much. I became so emotionally attached to the idea during my pregnancy, that I knew I would be devastated if I wasn’t able to breast feed. I didn’t know it until after I had Ali that milk production is a challenge in my family. My own mother was only able to nurse me for three months before she wasn’t able to produce any more. Everyday, I fear that it’s my last. There have been times where my milk has fluctuated wildly, from one day to the next with no cause, then there are days that I will produce way more than I thought I could.

By no means do I claim to be an expert on any topic I write about here, but I have done a lot of research — not to mention that I work at a health care company, so I have a lot of resources others don’t — and consider myself to be knowledgeable in the subjects relating to childbirth and breast feeding. Unfortunately, I still let myself get anxious about being able to nurse. I am trying to change my way of thinking from “Please God, please help me make more milk for her” to “Thank you, God, for allowing me to provide the best nutrition for my daughter another day.” So far, I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the fact that, one day, this is going to end. I was prepared for it to end through weaning, but now, I like to think I’m prepared to just let it take its course if it needs to.

For those of you thinking about nursing your future children, please seek out resources and support from others. Nursing is hard, just as hard as labor. There are a lot of women out there that make it look easy, I don’t know how they do it, and I’ll admit, I have been jealous of those to whom it looks like it is so easy for them. Sometimes, it seems like Andrew’s the only one telling me that I’m doing a good job, and I know my sister tells me the same. But it’s hard to hear it, and then really believe. For some reason, my lactation consultant has always been the only one that can truly put my mind at ease.

I can’t say it enough: if you’re going to breast feed, get a lactation consultant!! Or you can visit your local chapter of La Leche League. I didn’t do this before delivering, but LLL can provide a lot of instruction prior to having your child. Post-partum, having a consultant was a huge gift. I still call her when I have a question or concern. When Aliana started sleeping through the night around 9 weeks, I didn’t realize that I couldn’t let myself engorge and leak. That sends a signal to stop producing, and my supply reduced significantly. She quickly gave me some tips and a schedule of sorts to get me right back up. I haven’t had that severe of a fluctuation since.

Secondly, buy a good pump. But whatever you do, unless it is a hospital grade pump that you are renting, do NOT use a second hand pump. Do not purchase a used pump online or from anyone you know. Commercial pumps are called “open system” pumps. The system is not designed to keep breast milk from potentially coming in contact with the motor. Medela’s “Pump In Style” pumps are open system. Your milk can potentially enter the tubes and even come in contact with the motor. If you don’t clean it, or even realize that this has happened, it can form mold, and the spores can travel back into your collected milk and can potentially harm your baby. There are companies that use a “closed pump” system, such as Ameda’s “Purely Yours” (which I think I will purchase for the next kiddo, I have a love-hate relationship with my Medela), and the milk will never touch the tubing or vacuum source. Definitely do your research regarding pumps before you purchase one. Better yet, just rent one from the hospital. I used Medela’s “Symphony” at Albany Med, and it was a great pumping experience. This one is considered a closed system, because it uses closed diaphragms to create the vacuum needed.

This is pretty much all I can think to mention at the moment. Knowing me, I’ll probably revisit the topic. I doubt that any male readership that we have gained will want to hear more about this, it is kind of a personal subject to speak of, but my goal since the beginning of this blog has been to share what I learn in this experience. I was the first of my friends to get engaged, then married, and now to become a mother. I think it’s only fair that you all see what I have gone through in this process as well.

If you girls have any questions, feel free to ask me. I love sharing my knowledge, and if there’s something we need to figure out together, together we will.

 

I Know What It Feels Like to Be a Cow

(18 weeks pp)

I know what it feels like to be a cow. Every morning, I wake up, and perform my toilette, wake up the calf, and feed. Said calf feeds twice if I’m lucky (and she’s not too sleepy) before heading out to work.

Once I arrive at my place of employment — where I spend the day grazing on my 50 million snacks because I am always hungry — I have about an hour or so before I have to hook myself up to a machine that vaguely resembles this for fifteen minutes. I repeat twice more every three hours. Collected milk stays in our fridge in a small black cooler with a giant ice pack designed to fit around the bottles.

Once home, I transfer expressed milk into four freezer bags — totaling four servings — for my calf to eat while at calf care from one of these. My freezer is full of milk. There is barely enough room for the sustenance my bull and I require, but we manage.

When the calf comes home with the bull, she feeds directly again. Repeat process at least 4 times before her 7-8 pm bedtime, and I’m pooped. At this point, I require a large ice cream on a sugar cone. I take a few moments to thank God for the cow that provided her cream in my cone before consuming, and promptly go to bed.

…only to repeat the next day, and will continue to repeat until my time is over.

Dear friend, I commiserate with you. Our babies require the best food possible, so we do our best to provide. Unfortunately for you, you’re feeding thousands (including me), and I’m only feeding one. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta do it.