Before Reagan was born I made the conscience decision to breast feed. Honestly, I didn’t know “Jake” about breast feeding. So when I was pregnant, Reagan’s dad and I attended a breast feeding class sponsored by a local hospital. It was free, and took about two hours of our time. Here we are, sitting in a class with a fake baby (dark brown of course…how sweet) and I’m holding this flimsy baby up against by fully clothed and covered breast. We practiced different positions, in which the only one that interest her dad was the “football hold”. All in all, I left that class still not knowing “Jake”! But I was determined! Then after having complications with Reagan’s birth, infection, her being sick, me being sick and recovering from a cesarean, I again struggled to continue breastfeeding. What motivated me? I’m not really sure. I think it was a mix of finishing something I started, pride, saving money, encouragement from my physicians saying how breastfeeding was the best thing you could do for your child. But I will say, once I started, got comfortable with it, I would HIGHLY recommend breast feeding. Now, I don’t know all the statistics, but here is what I personally found true in my experience.
1) It saved TONS of money! One of the lactation coaches called it “Liquid Gold” and she was not lying! I saved tons of money breastfeeding. Think of all the money you can spend on formula. I priced some one day and they range up to $30 a canister! I cannot imagine how fast that could add up!
2) Reagan has rarely been sick. I can literally count on one hand how many times Reagan has been sick (knock on wood). I have read several articles that encourage breastfeeding because it strengthens the immune system (especially the first secretion known as colostrum).
3) We bonded! I’m not sure how I can explain this, but something about breastfeeding made me feel extremely close to Reagan. It was our bonding time. Our perfect little peace.
4) Convenience!!!! So imagine its 3 am in the morning, not the 3 am that you are leaving the club after having a good night out, but the 3 am that feels like you just went to sleep and have been up taking care of a new baby all day. Then imagine having to get up, fix a bottle of formula, warm it up, do that little trick where you test it on your arm, all while holding a crying baby. Now, imagine the same scenario, but instead you just gently place baby on your breast in that perfect “football hold” as you rock baby to sleep. The milk is already warm, no testing it on your arm, and no marching all the way to the kitchen!!! PERFECT!!!!
5) Weight loss! Yes ladies! If I could just breastfeed for the rest of my life to lose weight I would! I lost my baby weight very quick breast feeding! Now I won’t go into the entire medical “how and why” (maybe I can get one of my physician friends to blog about that) but I will raise my hand proudly and say breast feeding does make you lose weight! Now, with that being said, I must also say that you can’t do it by breast feeding alone; you have to work out as well. I remember when Reagan started slowing down breast feeding; I slowly saw my weight increasing again!
However, breastfeeding is not easy! It takes a lot out of mommy and definitely took a lot out of me. Below are a few disadvantages and challenges I faced while breastfeeding.
1) Sometimes I felt completely drained! In the beginning when I breastfed, I would just as quickly fall asleep with Reagan. I’m sure that coupled with taking care of a new baby and not getting adequate amount of sleep had a lot to do with it.
2) It hurt!!!! In the beginning it’s a pain that you cannot describe and you experience your breast doing some crazy things! But remember, it’s worth it, and once you get through that, it will be a breeze!
3) Pumping! Once I returned to work, I had to figure out how to pump milk and save it, freeze it or whatever I had to do. That’s where a good pump comes in handy along with a very cooperative work environment. Which I had both. But it was still very hard to carry around pump equipment, keep the milk cold, get it home to baby, freeze it, etc. I remember when I started a new job; I had to go away for training for a week! Here I was in Charlotte, NC at a hotel without a fridge or freezer. So I did what any mother who didn’t want her milk to dry up or waste milk do…I walked it down stairs and asked the hotel clerk if they could freeze it for me…and they did. When I checked out I had several frozen baggies of “liquid gold” and faced another dilemma. How the heck was I going to get THIS on a plane? Those bags were WAY over 3oz! So I find myself at security trying to discreetly tell the flint face airport security I had breast milk. He then takes it, gives it to at least two other people, until the last person does a test on it, to determine that it wasn’t some foreign explosive disguised in breast milk baggies. How embarrassing!
4) Public feeding. Now I’m not sure how others feel about feeding in public, but I just never felt comfortable enough to do it. Now don’t get me wrong, I know some moms who would do it with no problem, but that just wasn’t something I felt comfortable doing. I did try it however, and found it awkward trying to keep a blanket over your child to cover your breast and keep that blanket so it doesn’t fall off and expose your “milk machines”. So, I would usually carry a pre pumped bottle with me. But I often times found myself in the handicap stall of restrooms breastfeeding my little Reagan.
5) No drinking. Not that I’m a lush or anything, but not being able to have a cocktail when you want was pretty hard. You have to think of your breast milk and you definitely don’t want baby to get any! But there are definitely ways to get around that. I usually pumped before hand and the milk I produced after a drink, I would dump, hence the common phrase “pump and dump”.
All in all, I would definitely agree with physicians, researchers, and the “know alls” of what’s best for baby and whole heartedly agree that BREAST IS BEST!