Dear LLL ladies,
First, I'd like to thank you for all the support you've provided me in the first 7 months of my BF relationship with my son. Though I haven't posted often, I have drawn solace and information from your posts, which have motivated me to tough out some difficult times with zest. (Yes, I am well enough rested to use "zest".)
A little about myself: a strategy consultant turned first-time mama who vehemently supports EBF wherever possible (we almost-EBFed to 6.75 months), co-sleeping (I'm a family bed kind of gal for night and naps), babywearing (Bjorns fit my tall boy beautifully), and silly song singing. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined myself a co-sleeper, but there you go. Babies have a way of changing us for the better, and in my case this process involved developing patience and willingness to put Baby first.
Toughing out the hard times: breastfeeding is resilient!
- I had a natural hospital childbirth in mind. However, after 17 hours of unmedicated labour, my son was born by emergency C-section when all other options failed due to a triple nuchal cord and extremely low oxygen saturation levels. My husband provided kangaroo care within 15 mins of my son's birth and, when I came to from the general anaesthesia an hour later, breastfed my son for the first time. What a miracle!
- Unfortunately, the combination of delayed milk production from the anaesthetic and 13% bodyweight loss for my son within 36 hours (exaggerated somewhat by the IV fluids that overinflated his weight) resulted in my using a SNS for one day with formula. Once discharged from the hospital, we ditched the SNS and my son recovered his weight loss by 2 weeks post-partum. We've been EBF through the introduction of complementary solids since and he is flourishing! (See below)
- Antibiotics suck. Full stop. I understand they have their place, but those darn post-op IV meds did a number on the intestinal flora of myself and my son. We struggled with 4 individual cases of thrush in the same number of months and I contracted painful mastitis after the third case. With the support of our incredible pediatrician, and a generous dose of lactobacillus drops, we have been thrush free for 3 months.
- My son has developed an irritating case of total body eczema, so we are experimenting with a dairy and gluten-free diet to see if any improvements are made. His diet includes breastmilk, carrots, peas, butternut squash, green zucchini, and extra-virgin olive oil to date. Will report back with results.
Reaping the benefits of breastfeeding
- Developmental milestones:My son has been trending months ahead of average on all developmental milestones-- speech, gross motor, social, early fine motor,emotional (I'll withhold bragging. Suffice it to say Mama is one proud lady.)
- Growth: My son is tracking between the 99%ile+ on the WHO height charts and has for BF babies and has climbed from the roughly 15th %ile in weight to nearly 50th %ile since birth. At 7 months, he is 18lbs and almost 30 inches tall.
- Disposition: He has morphed from what William Sears would term a "high-needs baby" into a passionate and vivacious boy. Sure, his cry can awaken the dead at the drop of a hat, but he comes by that ferocity naturally (i.e. via Mama). My son wakes with a smile, loves to hug and kiss Mummy, and demonstrates a heart-warming love of life. I think I'm Mama-love!
- Habits: We nurse on demand which, in the last week, has meant almost hourly through the day and night. A lot is going on in his life--new milestones, travel, growth, learning--and I now appreciate that providing the emotional and nutritional support of on-demand BFing is worth the effort. He put on over an inch in height in the last week as a result of our "midnight snacks". We don't have an accurate scale nearby, but I'd venture a guess that he's up about 0.5-0.75lbs over the same period based on the fit of his clothes.
- Where we nurse: Wherever we like, whenever my boy is hungry! An ideal meal for my boy is always at the ready, always sterile, and always at the right temperature. And if bystanders don't like it, they can avert their gaze and grow up. Breastfeeding is natural, healthy, and simply wonderful!
BFing nurtures- Baby & Mama
Some days I'm not out of bed until noon. I haven't slept a longer than 3-hour stretch in over a month. Whatever! Being a mother is a transcendent experience that makes all those formerly important details insignificant. At the 2-week mark, I was referring to myself as "Uncle Mom" for feeling out of touch with my son. I had never been exposed to infants before and was totally overwhelmed by the all-consuming demands of a baby.
My advice to new Mamas: just roll with it. Love your baby. Breastfeeding (where possible), babywearing, and co-sleeping will bring you two closer than you could ever imagine. Your other cares will melt away and the *real* needs in your life will crystallize themselves in your mind.
My son has made me a better person. I am more patient, loving, and willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not only has this made our relationship solid, but I am enjoying improved relationships with friends and family as a corollary effect. God became man to serve, and we should follow his example.
Staying the course
We've been BFing for just over 7 months now, and I set a goal of "at least 12 months" at my son's birth. We'll keep BFing until he decides to self-wean which, ideally, will be at least 2 years.
Don't let naysayers undermine your confidence in your methods. I find a simple "Thank you for your thoughts; we do X in our house" has been the best way to keep my MIL and other family members off my back.
My sense is that, 90% of the time, advice is intended lovingly. Pediatric recommendations have changed significantly since a generation or two ago and, often times, a simple update of the research is sufficient to align dissidents' views with our own.
For the other cases, practice your choices with confidence and let the results speak for themselves over time. You have more precious things to do--kiss scraped knees, practice dinosaur roars, and invent silly walks--than to sit idly by and argue with a fool.
Sending love from the land of Milk and Honey (ha),
PS. Please excuse the diatribe. I love breastfeeding and an attachment-parenting lifestyle!