I liked it!
When my older daughter was a year and a half my husband (he is the universal Papa now ever since my older daughter christened him Papa despite our efforts to get her to call him Daddy) brought up the subject of a second baby. I flatly refused. The 4 months of morning sickness had convinced me that I could not possibly go through pregnancy again. Not being able to eat, and throwing up at regular intervals made me miserable. I thought my torment would never end, but it did after 4 long months. I was relieved and I never wanted to have to deal with it again.
"But what about breastfeeding?" Papa pointed out. "You loved that."
I know. You are rolling your eyes wondering what kind of an idiot would think reminding a woman of breastfeeding would entice her to get pregnant again. But I really did like breastfeeding, and not because of some noble reason like bonding with my baby, well may be there was a little of that, but mostly because of how much breastfeeding increased my appetite. I enjoyed eating a variety of foods in large quantities.
I was tempted. Yes 4 months of morning sickness was terrible but 15 months of breast feeding did kind of make up for it. May be. Our memories do play tricks on us, when it comes to our kids. It dulls the frustrations associated with sleep deprivation and sore nipples, and sharpens the joys associated with bonding with the baby, and in my case, eating twice as much as I can otherwise. Besides, I told myself, morning sickness would probably be better the second time around.
Ha! Morning sickness was just as severe and lasted for 7 months the second time and breastfeeding only 12 months because the younger one wanted to eat like her older sister. On the other hand, while it lasted I found breastfeeding easier the second time and made the most of it.
Although I enjoyed breast feeding for the most part, here are some useful things I learned from hiccups along the way.
When to feed?
I was told by the pediatrician, to feed as often as possible in the first few days. The more the baby sucked, the more milk my breasts would produce and this worked for me. I was worried about not being able to breast feed because my mom hadn't been able to produce enough breast milk to feed me and I was switched to formula when I was a month old.
I later learned that my mom was advised to follow a rigid schedule of feeding every 3 hours. But I would get hungry much earlier and by the time she fed me following her schedule I was ravenous and too upset to be able to latch properly.
But feeding my babies whenever they asked for it, helped me produce sufficient milk and they were exclusively breastfed for the first six months and neither of my girls were ever over weight.
Many women find breastfeeding very painful. I did to some extent, but it wasn't too bad. I learned later that a lot depends on how well the baby latches. That's why it was so much easier to start out with my second one. I knew how to help her to latch and she started getting milk almost right away. But after I stopped feeding my second one I learned something, which I dearly wish I knew earlier and I hope some of you find this useful.
I am talking about the natural breast feeding position, where you place the baby face down on your tummy. In this position most babies will find your nipple and latch well on their own and you can relax while feeding. For details watch this video
You are probably wondering why I think this is such a great idea if I never tried it. I can't speak for the breastfeeding experience itself, but what I do know is that, when Papa (my husband) lay our second baby face down on his tummy to help her sleep, she would swim up to his chest and nuzzle around. We always wondered why, and this idea of natural breastfeeding seems to explain a lot. If babies can really be fed this way, it would make night time feeds a lot easier too. This site explains a lot more about the natural breastfeeding position. This position is supposed to help the baby latch better in which case the mother's nipples probably suffer less too.
However sometimes latching can be a problem for reasons like a tongue-tie, something I heard a friend mention. So I looked it up. This condition occurs in 4 to 10 percent of babies, where excess tissue anchors the tongue to the floor of the mouth, making it difficult for the baby to latch and feed.There is a simple surgical solution but it happens to be controversial. You can read more about it in the article I have linked to.
Sometimes problems with latching can be tackled with a nipple shield but this is only a short term solution.
When my older one was 3 months old I developed tendinitis in my wrist, and all because of breast feeding. While breast feeding, I would support my daughter's head with my hand. It did not weigh much, so I hardly noticed. But given how much time I spent breastfeeding, the cumulative stress caused significant damage. I could barely use my wrist for a few days and then I had a painful but functional wrist for almost 4 months. That's how I learned the hard way, that it is important to use feeding pillows. I also learned to feed in lying down position as much as possible. Finally natural breastfeeding would have prevented this problem even without feeding pillows.
Breast feeding made it easy for me to go places without having to carry bottles and sterilizers or worry about food and water for my kids, especially in the first 6 months. Even at home I did not have to deal with these things. During travel I could easily comfort my babies by feeding them anywhere, anytime. I used a breast feeding cloak, which is just like a flared skirt that you wear around your neck instead of your waist. It has a hole to put one arm through so you can have one arm free while you use the other one to keep the baby in position. While in an ideal world one would not need such a cloak, it helps to have one if you are made to feel uncomfortable about feeding in a public place.
No judgment please
Breast feeding has its ups and downs, and for me it was a positive experience on the whole. But not everyone can or wants to breastfeed and one should definitely do what they are most comfortable with. What works for one may not work for another for a variety of reasons. Recently, I have seen a lot of competition and judgment around breastfeeding. Seems silly. Let's just live and let live and support new moms, because they really could use support instead of judgment, while they find their way around motherhood. I wasn't breastfed and my kids were, and we are all doing great!
I am thrilled to be participating of the A to Z blogging challenge 2018.