Feb 20, 2013

Our Breastfeeding Journey

Just the word alone seems to invoke all kinds of opinions, emotions, and debate nowadays. We are HUGE breastfeeding advocates at the House of Burke. In fact, I can't even imagine not nursing our son. Breastfeeding to me is the most natural and amazing thing that any mother can do for their child and themselves! The benefits of breastfeeding are so vast for both mama and baby that it almost seems unnatural to NOT nurse! Like I said, I cannot imagine not nursing Kingston, but our journey to get to this point wasn't the easiest!

I knew I would nurse long before I ever got pregnant. It was always something I was going to do. I wasn't going to try to do it, I was just going to do it. No questions asked. I was going to keep trying to nurse and never give up.. EVER. That's what I told myself before I was pregnant. Flash forward to my pregnancy and I was determined that I would nurse our son. I just knew it was right for us. I had the research to back it up; and I love research! As soon we got newborn baby Kingston back to our room in the hospital, I remember looking at Todd and asking, "Should I try now? Should I try to feed him!?" He latched on immediately and we were in business. I was feeding my son! His little head wasn't even close to the size of my breast, not by a long shot and it was so sweet to watch him attempt to fill his little belly. That first night together, K and I learned the ropes of nursing and it felt so fulfilling to be providing sustenance for my child. Even the lactation specialist said we needed no assistance and that Kingston and I were both naturals.

The very next day, Kingston was moved to the Special Care Unit due to a slight fever at birth and our blissful first experience with nursing took a turn for the worst. The nurses would wait until K was starving and screaming to bring him to me to nurse. He would be so frantic that it was almost impossible to latch him on and we would end each session in tears! Due to the c-section, my milk didn't come in until day 6! We were in the hospital for 5 days and on that 5th day my milk still hadn't come in. K had to be on antibiotics and the nurses told me that his kidneys would fail if he didn't get fluids. I felt confused and scared not being able to properly feed my child. That's when they introduced the SNS, a supplemental nursing system in which a thin tube is attached to your nipple with tape and a small stream of formula is put into the baby's mouth while simultaneously stimulating your nipple to produce milk. The SNS was a nightmare for us. We struggled so much that even the nurses and lactation consultants were at their wits end. By the time they released us 5 days later, I still had no idea how I was going to feed my child. The thought of continuing him on formula of any kind was devastating to me. I knew that I could provide him with what he needed if my milk would just come in. At that point, he was hardly having any wet diapers. Todd and I religiously monitored any and all fluid that came out of his body.

Once home from the hospital, Todd was a huge help! He would try to get me as comfortable as possible in order for me to be able to nurse. Everything that was so simple and natural our first night together seemed impossible when we were home. I couldn't get comfortable, my boobs were too big, K wouldn't stay latched .. it seemed to be one thing after the other. I wanted to give up at every feeding, but I knew I would be miserable if I didn't persist. That next day we visited the lactation specialist who confirmed that my milk had in fact come in and we would not have to use the SNS any longer! After we came home from that appointment, I felt a renewed sense of confidence. It took awhile for K and I to both learn to breastfeed and it was difficult.. until it was easy. It was almost as if one day, about 2 weeks after I gave birth to him, things changed. It started to get better and easier every feed and every day. 

Then came the pumping battle & the milk supply dilemma. I convinced myself that I wasn't making enough milk for Kingston. I would pump everyday planning on building up a stash of milk. When I would only get a couple ounces, I would get extremely discourage and stress over my milk supply. It got to the point where I was thinking about my milk ALL the time, obsessing over it, making lactation cookies, trying all kinds of herbs and supplements - fenugreek which made little Kingston's belly AWFUL.. Brewers yeast- which tasted awful. Looking back, I don't know why I was so obsessed with pumping or why I thought I needed all of that milk in my freezer. I wasn't planning on returning to work and Kingston was gaining weight great! There was no cause for concern and I was stressing myself out for no reason. Not to mention, the stress of not making enough milk was hindering my milk supply even further!! 

It wasn't until K was about 3 months old that I just stopped pumping one morning. I think I skipped it unintentionally due to a time management issue and it was the best thing I could have done. I had so much milk that day! K was happy, I was happy, and I wasn't stressed. The milk was flowing. After I stopped thinking about my milk supply, I had no issues. All my issues previously had been self-inflicted. I had never had a supply issue. I was making plenty of milk for Kingston and obviously more so since I had a freezer full of pumped milk! 

Fast forward 5 months later and we are still going strong!! We are bigger breastfeeding advocates than ever! Our struggle at the beginning of our journey made me appreciate nursing even more so. I love the thought that I have sustained Kingston with just my own body for 15 months (through pregnancy and nursing). We are pros now and plan on nursing for at least a year! We are a total breastfeeding family. Todd couldn't imagine me not nursing. My family is so supportive and have surprised me with their advocacy! I have no qualms about nursing in front of them. In fact, I have no qualms about nursing in front of anybody. I find that it is other people that are STILL not all comfortable with nursing. It blows my mind. 

What drives me crazy is that I struggled over whether to post pictures of me nursing Kingston. So much so, that I asked the opinion of my mother as well as friends. It irritates me that anyone would be offended by a picture of me feeding my precious child. But people will always have their opinion regardless of fact. The recent Facebook Vs. Breastfeeding controversy only made me want to post them more. For those of you who are not in the nursing loop, Facebook has been removing pictures of Mamas breastfeeding their babies claiming that they are inappropriate. Yet, all day long in my newsfeed I see pictures of girls wearing skimpy little outfits that show way more skin than a mother nursing her child. Why is it okay to look at all those raunchy pictures of girls trying to purposely show off their bodies and not okay to see a picture of a mother giving her child the most loving, nurturing, and natural gift of all, sustenance? I think everybody should post pictures of themselves nursing their children. I think that everyone should nurse in public. I wish that we lived in a world where you could feed your child without having to stress out about what other people think about you. Ultimately, I decided that I would absolutely post pictures of me feeding K. I would post pictures of Kingston drinking from a bottle, so why not a picture of him feeding the way that he was meant to feed. 
I don't care who is watching. If my child is hungry, I am going to feed him. Breastfeeding is made controversial by people who do not understand it. Breasts were made to supply milk. I would never knock a Mama for not choosing to breastfeed, but for my family, breast is best. 

So ladies, I encourage you to whip out those boobs (or as we call them at the House of Burke "shnoobs" ... long story.. started with "boobas", grew to "booba schnoobs", and we have now settled on "shnoobs"!) and feed your precious angels without letting people make you feel ashamed! You are giving your child the most precious gift. Hopefully someday it will not be frowned upon to feed your child in public and nursing mamas will not have to hide in dressing rooms (hello JcPenney!), food court bathrooms (can you say "EWW!"), or nursing mamas lounges (although we do so greatly appreciate them in such a judgmental world!). Keep standing up for your right to feed your child. 

Oh and btw, have you seen the breastfeeding episode of New Normal?!? I'm in love! 

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