Oh, the wonderful topic of breastfeeding! When we started TTC-ing, I was adamant – I would not breastfeed but I was interested in pumping exclusively. The idea of a baby being attached to me (more specifically, by breasts) was uncomfortable, and I wanted nothing to do with it! Well, time went by, and it went by, and it went by – without a baby – and I think that afforded me time to rethink the topic of breastfeeding.
By the time I was in my third trimester, I was signing up for every pre-birth class that our hospital offered. The one that I was not going to sign up for was the one on breastfeeding. At that point, I had decided I’d give it a try – so what was I thinking not signing up for the class? My friend told me I should go so I went. I am so glad I did!
I was one of the only a couple people there without their husbands, which struck me as odd. But once the class got going, I realized that husbands have a role in breastfeeding as well – they need to know how hard it can be, they can help position the baby, and they can remember things from class that you may be too frustrated to remember when your baby refuses to latch on. If I could do it all over again, I would most definitely invite my husband along with me (we didn’t know it was a coed class) and he would go. He wishes he had had the opportunity.
I learned all about latching, lactation services at the hospital, what all can go wrong, and the different kinds of breast pumps. I came out of that class convinced that I would not only TRY breastfeeding – but that I would DO it – for as long as possible.
It was not easy at first. M did not latch correctly and it took a few visits with Lactation to get that resolved. We even went back after two weeks at home with him because I was in so much pain and on the verge of quitting. Marg, the consultant, put me at ease and got M to latch correctly every single time. From that point forward, we were golden. It took a while for my nipples to recover from almost three weeks of torture, but it worked out and we’ve been nursing exclusively ever since, with the exception of M’s 7 weeks in daycare before I quit to be a SAHM (and even then, he was only drinking expressed milk).
I find myself a little judgmental, at times, of mothers who don’t try nursing, which isn’t fair of me. I just know that if I had stuck to what I had originally thought, I would have missed out on this wonderful bonding experience with my child. If I would have believed that we couldn’t fix M’s latching problem, I would have quit. I, too, would have said, “I just couldn’t do it.” The truth is, I could do it, WE just needed some help. M and I had to be taught how to work together. If you don’t seek help, it’s very easy to quit. I think breastfeeding is NOT something that comes naturally to many, many women – leading them to think that their body just can’t do it.
I am so pro-nursing that I own a hospital grade pump. Why a hospital grade pump, you ask? Because it’s stronger, it does a great job of getting your milk started, and it keeps it coming strong. Seriously – I tried a consumer grade pump at first and it was doing me no good (or limited good). The first time with the hospital grade pump produced almost twice as much as the consumer grade pump did the day before. Here is a tip that no one shares with you. When you go to nursing class at the hospital, they talk about renting the hospital grade pumps ($60 a month!) but they don’t say you can buy them. But you can!
Yes, they are very expensive (4-5 times the cost of the consumer pump), but hear me out. The consumer grade pumps aren’t as strong as the hospital grade ones – hence their lower prices. However, in the US, you can use FSA (flexible spending account) money to purchase a breast pump – including a hospital grade pump. You can then legitimately resell the hospital grade pump (because it’s a closed, sterile unit) for about 75% of the cost you paid for it once you’re done with it. In fact – I spoke with Medela about this and they said absolutely resell it. If you do the math, you save 30% up front by using FSA money, and then resell it for 75% of the what you paid. At the end of the day – it truly is free. When I resell my pump, I will likely sell it for more than I paid when you consider the tax benefit of using FSA money to purchase it.
I tell everyone who nurses to buy a hand/manual pump. We keep mine in the car, with disinfecting wipes, and I have used it on the interstate, in restrooms at the airport, at my parents’ house, etc. When M isn’t in the mood to eat, I can pump on the go. I love it! I never thought I would be the type to schedule my life around breastfeeding and pumping, but I am!
M was on a very set schedule from the start – I didn’t want to be a snack bar – so we got a schedule down within the first two weeks. I think that’s important! I don’t know that we would have stuck it out as long as we have if he was eating on demand and just snacking.
So how long have we been doing this? Eight and a half months! I cannot believe it! Just last week, I said I wasn’t ready to start fertility treatments for baby #2 until after June so that M can be breastfed for a full year (mind you – I have 2 months of milk stored up in the freezer – so this is just me being emotional about it!). However, he is starting to bite me and that hurts – and he’s also starting to get very distracted and disinterested in nursing during the day, so he may be weaning himself. If we can get the biting under control, I’ll nurse him as long as he’ll let me up to his first birthday!