Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Thoughts from the Nursing Room at Disneyland: The Breastfeeding Post
It's a sweet little place, complete with padded changing tables, a room full of baby supplies to buy if you need them, and there's a private area for nursing mothers. I snapped the picture at the left with my iPod while I was nursing the baby, trying my best to be quick and discreet, even though I knew the picture wouldn't turn out that well. (Can you imagine what all the other moms behind me would have thought if I pulled out my big SLR camera?) But I couldn't resist snapping some kind of picture of this peaceful place that was so different from the hustle and bustle everywhere else in the park.
So as I was sitting there with my baby, feeding him and listening to all the sweet little nursing sounds of smaller babies around me, I was thinking about this blog and I realized that I've never done a post about breastfeeding on this blog. Oops. I mean, is there anything more frugal than breastfeeding? It's a huge money-saver. It's free food!
But what to write on here that mothers don't already know? The benefits of breastfeeding are well known. Plus, everyone's situation is different. I know mothers who, despite their very best efforts, struggle to make breastfeeding work for them. I know other mothers who, for personal reasons, have decided not to breastfeed at all. It's such a personal thing and I would never want to make anyone feel bad. Heaven knows, we mothers have plenty to worry about; who needs to feel judged about how we feed our babies?
That said, I'm an unabashed advocate of breastfeeding. I've loved nursing my babies. I nursed my first until he was 13 months old; my second baby is 11 months right now. Here are some of my suggestions to help you be successful at nursing...
1. Take a class.
Most people think that breastfeeding will come naturally once the baby arrives. This isn't necessarily so. It takes some practice and guidance to get it right. One piece of advice I give to family and friends who are expecting is to take a class before they have the baby. It was so helpful for me. I took a class the month before I had my first baby -- it was at the hospital I was delivering at. For $20, I got two hours of instruction from a certified lactation consultant who answered all of my questions. I just found this great article about how to tell if you're taking a good breastfeeding class -- check it out. If you need help finding a class, your doctor or midwife can be a great source; also check with the hospital where you'll be delivering your baby.
2. Visit with a lactation consultant once (or more, if needed) your baby arrives.
Those moments after birth are beautiful and tender. The baby wants to nurse. You want to nurse. Trouble is, both of you might not totally know what you're doing. Even after I took the class and read the books, I still needed a little help and assurance that I was doing it right. Those lactation consultants are a treasure trove of knowledge. They know all the tricks and ways to get babies latched on and how to make mothers feel confident. Even though I'd nursed my first baby, I still appreciated their help when I had my second. It'd been a few years since I'd nursed a baby and they gave me a great refresher course in what to do. Plus, every baby is different and each may need help in different ways. Every lactation consultant I've met has been nothing but sweet and encouraging, making me feel completely comfortable. Trust them, they know exactly what they're doing.
3. Find a good breastfeeding reference book.
Read a good breastfeeding book before and after baby's arrival. I can't tell you how many times I've turned to my go-to reference while nursing both of my babies. My choice: The Breastfeeding Book by William and Martha Sears.
I have turned to this book so many times. Why is he so gassy? Is it safe to take an antibiotic while nursing? How do I get this baby to stop biting me (ouch)? Why is he on a nursing strike? This book answered every question clearly and concisely. When I was pregnant with my first baby, this book explained the whole process so well for me -- the tip about the "lower lip flip" alone was worth buying the book for! My copy of this book is worn-out from use (and a bit wavy because I dropped it while reading in the bathtub when I was nine months along last year). I love the format of this book -- it's mostly written in a question/answer format. It's very approachable, readable, and a fantastic (and quick) reference.
One complaint that some people have had about the book (at least from what I gathered in reading the reviews on Amazon) is that the authors make no attempt to hide their personal opinions about breastfeeding. They say flat-out how they feel about bottle-feeding. Some people find that off-putting. It didn't bother me. If anything, it made me even more enthusiastic and more determined to make breastfeeding work for me. If you're familiar with the Sears, then you'll know they're also very into attachment parenting, which some people don't like either. To each her own, I say. That said, I don't agree with everything in the book. They're big into extended nursing (meaning past a year, even into the toddler years. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, it's just not for me.). My one complaint about it is that it has next to no information on weaning (again, they lean toward toddler nursing and letting kids wean themselves). Even with that complaint, I would still highly recommend it. It has helped me many, many times, especially in those first few days and weeks. I credit much of my success in breastfeeding to this book!
My baby is getting so big -- time goes by so fast. I can't believe he's almost a year old and that I won't be nursing him much longer. Even though I'm starting to feel ready to be done nursing this baby, I've loved the experience. Breastfeeding is a pretty incredible thing -- it's one of my favorite ways to be frugal! Whether you do it for just a few weeks, months, or even years, you will definitely reap plenty of the benefits that come with breastfeeding.