Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Amazing Thing About Breasts

Piper's first latch, right out of the womb!
One thing I was determined to accomplish once Piper arrived was breastfeeding.  Over the years I have heard many a horror story (along with many positive stories too, I might add) regarding breastfeeding.  I've heard reasons for not doing it that covered just about every scenario...milk not coming in, it was too painful, inverted nipples, baby couldn't latch, boobs were too big and smothered the baby, boobs were too small, didn't want boobs to sag later, etc, etc.  Regardless of the reason and/or the dramatic story behind each, I never once considered not breastfeeding as an option.  The stories I always focused on were the positive ones...the way the baby looks at you with absolute love while nursing, the strong bond formed during breastfeeding, it helps you lose weight and tightens everything back up, the nutritional value cannot be beat nor store bought, it gives all the necessary immunizations to your baby, it makes your boobs bigger, etc, etc. Regardless if one has had a positive or negative experience when trying to breastfeed, in the end we all know it is best for baby.  That right there was my absolute deciding factor in the matter.

She was a natural from the get-go!
Even though breastfeeding is the most natural thing on the planet, there seems to be a great issue with babies not being able to figure things out.  Properly latching onto the nipple seems to be the biggest issue.
After a hospital birth, if you decide to breastfeed, you now have a lactation consultant who comes in to help you get the ball rolling, so to speak.  I have to admit that my inner idea of such a consultant fell more along the lines of angry Catholic nun.  I imagined a stern woman with a bad attitude that would rap my knuckles with a ruler and tell me I'm doing it wrong at every turn.  I'm not Catholic, so of course this imagery was implanted into my brain via Hollywood.  Nonetheless, this is the type of individual I imagined the lactation consultant to be.  Boy was I wrong!

It's such a natural thing!
Sharon, my lactation consultant, was an absolute delight.  When she first popped her head into my hospital room I was like oh no, here it comes (eye roll).  But I was way too quick to judge and immediately my attitude changed once we started talking.  She didn't talk down to me and tell me how I was doing everything wrong, like I expected.  Instead she was very positive, telling me what I was doing right, while offering up information on new techniques that the experts on breastfeeding were currently recommending.  I didn't feel looked down upon, threatened, shy, confused, frustrated, none of those awful emotions.  I felt encouraged, positive I could succeed, enlightened, and relaxed.  I was sure when she asked me to whip out my boobs and get naked from the waist up that I would feel uncomfy at best.  Instead it felt oh so natural.  As a matter of fact, I haven't once encountered feeling uncomfortable whipping out my boobs for nursing.  I have never been the type of girl who liked to walk around in just a bra or has felt comfortable even dressing/undressing in front of other women.  But the whole breastfeeding thing has changed my view on how I feel about showing some boobage when necessary...they are just breasts, after all.  It may be that they are such exquisite breasts right now, with all their fullness, so that could possibly contribute to my not caring who sees them.  I am not saying I would go down to the local pub and whip them out for all to see, I'm not that comfy yet!  However, I don't feel it necessary to run off to another room if needing to nurse Piper while I have company.  They can turn their heads to avoid the immediate onslaught of boobage in the room, but that is their choice and not mine to make.

She sleeps so soundly after a good meal!
Anyway, where was I?

Back to the consultation.  The new idea regarding breastfeeding, one that I was already familiar with, was the skin-to-skin method of nursing and bonding with your new baby.  Basically, it requires both the baby and yourself to be naked (except for the diaper).  You place the wee one on your bare chest and let let them root around for your nipple.  The baby will take it upon themselves to try and find where to go for milk.  Of course you can help them along, but they hold a natural instinct for survival.  The skin-on-skin contact helps not only bond you to your child, it also acts to increase the baby's blood sugar, bonus!  There are many other benefits you can check out by going here.

I mean seriously zonked after eating!
While practicing this method for the consultant, she also shared with me how to massage my own breasts and express my own milk.  This can be very helpful if your child is not latching as easily as Piper did.  The baby's stomach is the size of a marble at birth, so it only takes a little bit of colostrum (first milk) to make a meal.  Basically, if you can express just a few drops of colostrum onto a teaspoon and feed your baby from that, you are essentially offering up enough to sustain your baby until they begin to latch naturally.  This was very useful information.  Although Piper was latching without a hitch, the notion of how little she needed and how I could go about getting it to her if we had issues, well it just set my mind at ease.

She's such a good eater!
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with the lactation consultant.  She checked on me throughout my hospital stay to make sure Piper and I weren't having any major problems and that we kept on the right track.  The encouragement she gave really bolstered my breastfeeding confidence, which came in very handy during my second and third day home when my milk came in and my breasts engorged so much I had to pump 10 oz of milk before Piper could latch again.  That was a frustrating couple of days when I knew Piper was crying because she was hungry, and I knew my boobs were too big and hard for her to nurse.  Luckily a friend had given me a pump, and after expressing 5 ozs out of each boob, they finally softened up enough that Piper could once again nurse properly.  Had I not had the encouragement of my consultant, I might have given up out of frustration.  But her support, along with my families support, pushed me into being rational and not freaking the hell out thinking I was going to starve Piper and be a complete failure as a mom!  Yes, even I felt this way and broke down into tears those first couple of days at home.  But once we got back into our routine, I realized how silly I was behaving by freaking out.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Showing me where the food goes!
I am so glad I pushed through those difficult days and stuck to my guns.  In the end, I absolutely love breastfeeding.  I look forward to every session, even the 5am ones.  There is nothing quite like it, and nothing makes me feel closer to Piper.  It's our special bonding time.  Even if there are other people in the room, we are still very much focused on each other...even when we both zonk out and wake up 30 minutes or so later completely snoozed on one another.

Definitely a cherished moment!
Another cool thing about the breastfeeding experience is watching how a baby plays with their food.  Piper loves to torment my nipples, I call it making them her bitch, and boy does she have some interesting techniques.  Each day it seems she learns a new one, and they absolutely crack me up.  I am contemplating filming her in action and posting the videos here.  I'm not sure if people would be offended by them, though.  I see it as just another baby nursing video, but show a little nipple on the net and some people might get bent out of shape!  I'll mull it over for a bit and make up my mind before publishing.  I would love to also catch her grunting like a pig whilst eating.  That is a new thing she has just started doing over the past couple of days, and it is also hysterical!

Okay, managed to make a vid that doesn't show any nipple!  I just adore the soothing sounds Piper makes when nursing, it's just sounds so satisfying.

I am a very lucky mom in that Piper nurses easily.  She took to the nipple the moment she was born and continues to love meal time!  She is now eating every three hours like clockwork.  Normally she will eat r about 10 minutes per breast during each session.  She tends to be a bit of a lazy eater in that I often have to jiggle her back from snoozeland while she nurses.  By the end of most sessions she is soundly sleeping, well at least until I have to burp her.  She will also use nursing as a way to soothe herself whenever she gets upset.  I like to call these very short, intermittent sessions "snack" times.  They usually last less than 5 minutes and are now getting more rare, but she still needs them once in awhile.

Happy baby!
Speaking of snack sessions, today I wrapped her up in the K'tan and we went for a walk around the house to admire the flowers.  She had just finished eating right before our mini adventure.  However, once she got outside she decided she need a "snack" session.  I'm not sure why she all of a sudden wanted to nurse languidly during our walk-about, but it was too cute.  And it was her first time dining al fresco, a pastime that I thoroughly enjoy...maybe it's genetic.

Couldn't you just gobble her up?
On that note, I think I'll wrap things up here before Piper wakes up for her next meal.  Better to be safe than sorry and I want to get this published before midnight since I'm already a day behind my self-imposed schedule.  As always, I hope you enjoyed this entry and will continue to come back.  Now that Piper is here I plan on posting a lot more, especially now that I am beginning to slightly adjust to this whole new mommy thing.  I may backslide at some point, but I'm going to do my best to keep on top of things!

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Until next time, sleep peacefully!

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  1. So glad it's going well - the lactation consultant sounds great! Alice x

    1. Definitely recommend anyone breastfeeding to talk to a consultant. I was surprised at how much I learned!

  2. it is great you document it well, I didn't and wish I would have taken more photo's and videos... yah for you!