Monday, November 23, 2009

Breast is best.

Nursing at 10,000 ft.

I've put off writing this post because I'm pretty sure I'm going to offend some people. But I've finally decided to just bite the bullet, so here goes.

As mothers, we make many of what I like to refer to as "lifestyle choices." Cloth vs. disposable. Working mom vs. stay at home. Infant seat vs. convertible. But here's the bottom line: BREASTFEEDING IS NOT A LIFESTYLE CHOICE.

Just as our bodies were created with the internal structures necessary to create babies, we were created with the tools necessary to feed them. Why do we doubt our bodies' abilities to feed our babies? It seems like women today have serious trust issues with ourselves- we doubt our ability to birth without medical intervention and/or pain medication, too, but that's another post.

To the new moms out there: I'm sorry if you're tired. I'm sorry if you're frustrated. Aren't we all? But why not try to adapt your technique before you give up and pick up a bottle. Have your husband make sure to bring you food and water while you're nursing- maybe throw in a back/neck massage, too. Co-sleeping can make a huge difference in the amount of sleep you can get as a breastfeeding mom. And I'm not opposed to the occasional bottle of pumped milk given in a pinch.

Are you really too embarrassed to use your breasts for what they're made for? I've heard this excuse from the same women I see exposing more boob in their bikinis at the beach than nursing their babies.
A. Get a nursing cover.
B. Buy/rent a pump. Pump at home and carry expressed milk in a bottle with you when you're out and about.

Are you having "technical" issues with latch/soreness/etc? Talk to a lactation consultant/La Leche League leader. They are professionals and the experts in this area. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

Are you a working mom? I am. In fact, I work full-time, and I'm in the military- probably the least pumping-friendly environment there is. But guess what? I can manage to find 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon to pump. I guarantee you spend that much time getting a cup of coffee. Can't you spare it for your baby? Besides, I so look forward to coming home from work, sitting down with Lucy, and feeding her. What an amazing way to regain that sense of closeness with my daughter after being away during the day!

Do you think breastfeeding is inconvenient? That's a matter of opinion. I don't know about you, but my boobs go with my everywhere. It's awfully nice not to have to worry about carrying bottles, formula, etc. with me all the time. This is especially important for the notorious night feeding. Is getting out of your nice, warm bed to fetch a bottle (assuming you have one pre-made) and waiting while it warms really that much easier than simply pulling your baby closer to you, letting him/her latch on, and drifting back to sleep together?

Also, consider this: flu season is upon us. What's the best way to protect your baby from not only the flu, but from colds, ear infections, and other illnesses? You guessed it. So what's more important to you- a few extra hours of sleep, or helping develop your baby's immune system? I guarantee you'll be getting much less sleep when he/she has the flu than from breastfeeding once or twice a night.

Granted, there are legitimate reasons justifying bottlefeeding. Some women genuinely have supply issues, but this phenomenon isn't nearly as widespread as many women believe. And even if you have a problem producing enough for your child, there are things you can do to help- from prescriptions, to herbs such as fenugreek, to simply nursing more frequently.

The bottom line: you wouldn't put your child in the car without a car seat. So why would you take your child out into the world without offering him/her the protection mother's milk provides? I snagged this video from Julie's blog, and it sums everything up nicely.

Sometimes being a mom means putting your baby's needs first, knowing that the "easy" way isn't always the best way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lucy Mae update.

Today Lucy went in for her (rather belated) 2-month-well-baby-appointment. It was belated because we have to see a ped on base now, but that's a whole other can of worms that I don't feel like opening now. Anyways, some stats: Lucy is now tipping the scales at 12 lbs even, and is 24" long. Quite a change from her newborn stats (6 lbs, 3.5 oz and 19 3/4")! The rest of her appointment was pretty uneventful, as we are not starting her immunizations until she is 6 months old, and then it will be selectively. Some skills the doctor checked out/Lucy has displayed lately:
- Sucking her thumb. (She can always get at least a fist, but is getting more adept at just the thumb. She even once spit out her paci, raised ONE eyebrow at me, and stuck in her thumb. I can't make this stuff up!)
- Pulling up her head and chest during tummy time.
- Following my voice (She especially does this when I get home from work every day).
- Holding her head up- I credit lots of sling time for this one. She has awesome head and neck control.
- Extremely vocal. Lucy does not hesitate to voice either her joy or her discontent. Instead of crying, she does a lot of loud complaining- the ped referred to it today as the "angry kitten."
- Still infatuated with lights and ceiling fans. We are very much looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree- I'm sure she'll love it.
- Loves music! We listen to all kinds, from children's Christian to classical. She especially likes the Classical Baby dvds I bought last week- I highly recommend them. We purchased the 3-piece set, plus the poetry edition. She loves looking at the tv, so I figured we'd make it productive/educational.
- Lucy also loves listening to books, even more so when Brett and I do funny voices and add noises with the rattle. My favorite right now is Let's Dance, Little Pookie, but we love the Little Critter books, too. Try singing the words and shaking the rattle to the beat- so fun! We are looking forward to starting signing as soon as I get around to getting a book (I think we will use ASL instead of "baby sign") and Your Baby Can Read in a few more months.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So. Incredibly. Exhausted....

First day back at work.

...that's how I've felt this week. Going back to work was surprisingly less stressful, emotionally anyway, than I predicted. I'm attributing this to the fact that Lucy is taken care of Monday-Wednesday by an awesome nanny and Thursday-Friday by daddy. On my first day back, I returned home to find my nanny laying on the couch with Lucy on her chest. And Lucy was sound asleep. And looked comfy. And I felt so much better about the situation. Of course, returning home for lunch every day helps, too. I get to relax, nurse Lucy, and reconnect with her for awhile. It also means that she gets, at most, two bottles a day. Most days it's more like one. I'm still pumping twice a day at work, though, to help maintain my supply. What to do with all the extra? I'm donating to a breast milk bank in N.C. But more on that later- I'll dedicate a whole post to this topic.

So why am I so exhausted? Let's see. Most days I get up around 5:30 am. It's worth getting up a little earlier than I technically have to to get to lay in bed with Lucy for a while, snuggle with her, and nurse her before I get up. Usually she falls right back asleep after I nurse her, and that means I can take my time getting a shower, my coffee, etc. The nanny gets here around 7 and I head to work. I work all morning, stopping once to pump, then drive home at lunch. It's about a half-hour drive each way. After lunch, I return to work, pump once in the afternoon, and go work out. I have been trying to get back into my normal running routine, but have been having some major knee issues. Again, another post for another day.

I get home around 4:30-5, and if it's Monday-Wednesday, I have Lucy to myself for the rest of the night. Add in taking care of her, looking after the dogs, keeping the house looking presentable, feeding myself, and getting everything ready for the next day (washing diapers, freezing milk, getting bottles ready, making wipe solution, etc.) and I am getting tired just writing about it. Also, Lucy is nursing at least once, normally twice each night, so I'm still not getting that much sleep, although co-sleeping is definitely a huge help. Finally, I was supposed to have finished my Master's class two weeks ago, but I lost my research paper in the Great Hard-drive Crash of 2009, so I had to ask for an extension on that, and I'm STILL not finished. Bah.

I'm going to take Jenny's advice and map out some upcoming blog posts to keep myself on track:
1. Lucy update
2. Donating my breast milk
3. Running post-baby

PS- I'm super-behind on writing thank-you notes, but that's a project I've been working on this weekend. So if I haven't gotten back to you, I apologize. I am normally a stellar note-writer, but I've been pretty sucky about it lately.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009