Note: If all you're interested in is the goings on of the Packard family, stop here. This post is about breastfeeding and reader discretion is advised. This is a fair warning!
Okay, so I've been thinking a lot lately about breastfeeding (considering I spend a good portion of my day and night doing it) and I've been doing some research on different and facinating things. I'm curious what some people I know think about the issues.
First of all, here's my background (my limited readership is probably already aware of this). Breastfeeding Penn had a rocky start. After feeling like he was pulling needles out of my breasts for three weeks, I finally visited the lacatation consultants at McLeod. They didn't know what the problem was (why I was hurting), but they gave me a recipe for a miracle cream that had me feeling totally normal after a little less than a week. I probably wouldn't have made it more than those three weeks without that cream (ask me if you're interested in the "recipe"). So, I breastfed and pumped with Penn for 6 months before I started supplementing with formula. After that, I continued to breastfeed when I was with him on the weekends and weekdays after work until he was a little over a year old and he decided to wean himself off his one or two feedings a day. I am now nursing my second son, Jude and plan on doing so exclusively with no formula for a year or more since I won't have to send him to a babysitter during the day and pump regularly...hopefully. Basically, I'm pretty experienced in the breastfeeding department.
My first issue I can't get off my mind is the issue of cross nursing. For those of you that don't know, that's the act of nursing a baby that isn't yours. Think of Salma Heyak breastfeeding the starving African baby. There's a lot of controversy over this. In the afore mentioned example, you're talking life or death (not so controversial), but in most cases, it's neighbors or family nursing one another's children for convenience sake or as a bonding/community ritual. I really can't decide how I feel about this issue. I can't honestly say that I would be a participant in it because I don't know how I would feel about someone else nursing my baby, but on the other hand, it doesn't sound so bad. An article in People magazine described a situation in which the mother of a baby had died during childbirth and the father wanted to keep the mother's wishes that her child be breastfed. He started buying frozen milk over the Internet, but then neighbors and friends of friends with babies started voluteering to actually breastfeed this baby for the first year. I think they said that there were about 25 women who rotated feeding the baby every three hours during the day and then the father gave bottles of frozen breastmilk at night. In a situation like that, I'm still not sure how I feel.
Here's another new tidbit I learned...from the Bible. I'm sure you all know the story of Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was Naomi's daughter in law, but after Ruth's husband (Naomi's son) died, Ruth had the choice to go back with her family. Instead of returning, she remained loyal to her mother-in-law and stayed with her. Ruth eventually remarried and had another son...that was breastfed by her mother-in-law! So this says to me there is nothing at all wrong with co-nursing, but then why am I still really weirded out when I hear about some other ordinary examples??? Thankfully, unless I happen to come across a starving baby, I doubt I'll ever breastfeed someone else's child!
This leads me to something else that I'm definitely a fan of. Selling breastmilk! Seriously, this stuff is a hot commodity on the Internet! If I weren't breastfeeding my own son right now, I would be totally on that! I would never take my child's milk, but women who sell their milk can make almost as much as I make teaching! So anyway, once Jude decides he's done, I may convince myself to live green and share the wealth. What a waste of resources if I don't because I could probably feed triplets on what Jude eats, lol. And here you can read about a philanthropic effort to get breast milk to AIDS orphans in Africa...what a unique opportunity to save lives!
Lastly, in my recent research, I have come across some high and mighty breastfeeders. Don't get me wrong, I'm really proud of breastfeeding and I'm thankful that I'm able to do it, but I don't judge anybody for stopping. My own mother tried to breastfeed her first baby and ended up with mastitis, which pretty much scared her from ever trying it again. After my minor "inexperienced nursing" pain, I can't imagine what that must feel like. I was ready to let that ball drop after a couple of weeks! I feel that the most important thing for babies is not what milk they are getting, but how confident their mothers are in caring for them. A women who breastfeeds and cries and dreads every feeding is not doing their child any favors!
To close, here are my top 10 tips or things I've learned about breastfeeding...
1. Breastfeeding is almost always convenient, but it takes a long time before it's easy!
2. You can't beat the calories you burn while nursing. Once I stopped, I gained 15 lbs in no time!
3. Breastfeeding sometimes hurts. Everyone I know that has breastfed has dealt with pain at some point. When you aren't used to it or aren't doing it perfectly, it does hurt! I say to give it a month or as long as you can. Usually, you and the baby will get the hang of it by then.
4. It takes a long time for milk to dry up when you stop nursing gradually and it won't happen overnight just because you aren't feeding regularly.
5. Nix nursing bras. They are a total waste of a lot of money, you can only wear them with granny shirts (and personally, I like to show off my curves...however temporary), and you're better off wearing built-in-bra camisoles under everything. If you double layer your clothing, you can nurse anywhere and you really don't even need a cover (although I LOVE my nursing cover and use it a lot anyway)!
6. Special nursing clothes or pj's are more trouble than they're worth...seriously. Wear v-necks and criss-cross necklines with stretchy fabrics and you're set!
7. Everyone expects you to answer the question, "Could he be hungry?" Sure he could! I finished feeding him 10 minutes ago, but anything's possible!
8. Buy Playtex nursing pads (if you need them). They have the best adhesives and they aren't quite as big as some others. They are thick though! While you're at it, buy Lansinoh breast milk storage bags. They don't get holes in them when you freeze the milk!
9. Always have a drink handy when you're feeding. Nothing makes me thirstier than when I sit down to start feeding. As a matter of fact, it's worth it to learn to breastfeed while standing, walking and any other position that keeps you from being trapped on a couch with pillows!
10. Very few people are bothered by breastfeeding. As a matter of fact, I think most people are interested in it or don't care at all! Don't assume people are disgusted by breastfeeding.
I guess that's it...it seems I have to stop here anyway, as I have a hungry baby to feed...