I haven't had much of a chance to talk about my experience with breastfeeding thus far, because it's been a very busy job! Before I had Constance, I was nervous about doing it and how it would work out. I dreaded the lack of sleep and the possible problems arising that I had read about. I was not able to breastfeed her in the delivery as I had planned, because I was only able to hold her for five minutes before her being taken to the nursery. Later that night, the nurse brought her to us and tried to teach me how to do it, but little Constance was dreaming away. Most babies do not need to be fed the first 24-48 hours after birth, so no one was concerned about my ability to feed her or not. At that point, I was still telling nurses not to give her supplemental formula.
Once we found out she was going to have to stay in the hospital, that all changed. I knew that I wouldn't be able to be there 24/7, so I gave the okay for formula in the first couple of days. (Kind of scary considering they were giving her Similac, which was under recalls at that time!) I decided to still meet with a lactation consultant and begin pumping. & For the record, the lactation staff at Norton's is amazing. They were so encouraging and helpful. They were also very sympathetic of our situation. The first time I pumped colostrum, or the liquid gold also known as premilk, my LC called me a milk-makin Mama! I was definitely proud.
The nursery staff was also very pro-breastfeeding. They had no problem mixing my colostrum with the formula. I was very happy about this, because the benefits of colostrum for a newborn are fantastic. They also helped me breastfeed her for the very first time.
I must say I was nervous, because I knew she had been drinking bottles and I thought that might have spoiled her preference for the breast. However, she knew exactly what to do! (She wont even really take a bottle now - she just likes to play with it more than anything.) & It was amazing. I cannot explain the way I felt the first time I fed her from the breast. It was so beautiful and empowering.
Josh, who had been a little iffy about the whole breastfeeding thing during my pregnancy, was totally smitten with the sight of my feeding her. He couldn't stop telling me how beautiful I was and how he loved watching me do it. I used to wonder how Josh would bond with her because he wasn't feeding her and I also was afraid he'd feel left out. However, he's very much a part of it. He could be a lactation consultant himself if he had boobs! Ha! & Plus, Constance is Daddy's girl. Her favorite place in the world is on his chest, snuggling away. He's pretty much said that breastfeeding seems natural to him and that he wouldn't have it any other way. We have both agreed that we will breastfeed all of our children. :)
One thing that got me through Constance being in the hospital was pumping. I hated the fact that I had to leave her there at night. When I woke up every three hours to pump, I felt like I was still doing something for her. Josh would get up and sterilize the parts and then I'd pump. I would have rather been waking up to feed my baby or change a dirty diaper, but pumping was all I had. Giving her the best I could got me through that experience. It also boosted my supply! (Which was painful in the beginning, no lie!)
Ever since she has been home from the hospital, breastfeeding has had it's ups and downs. I was afraid at first that she wasn't getting enough, but that changed when I learned she was gaining weight! Honestly, I think that was always my biggest fear! However, my husband refused to let me quit. He knew how much I loved it and how much I wanted to do it, so he gave me two weeks before I could quit. & Those two weeks ended two weeks ago! I love breastfeeding and although it can be a challenge sometimes, I'm not going to quit. It has too many rewards for me to give up and plus, I love it!
The lack of sleep really hasn't been an issue. She is on her own schedule, eating every two hours during the day and then sleeping one long stretch of 4-5 at night. Feeding her in the middle of the night is so easy. No bottles, no heating, nothing! I just have Josh hand her over to me (although if I am awake enough I will do it myself so I don't disturb him - he does work 40+ a week!). My favorite position at night is the side lying position, although I don't sleep while doing this! It's just nice not to have to move out of a fairly comfortable position, not have to use hands, and I get to cuddle with her a little more while she's eating.
One great thing about breastfeeding is --- WEIGHT LOSS! I lost 23 pounds within the first week she was born. & I am now down to 148, which is four pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. :)
How long I plan to breastfeed is up in the air. I had planned for six months, but honestly if things go well, I'd like to make it up to a year. I also never pump anymore and I returned my rental pump (although Medela is definitely the brand you want to go with!), as I think bottles are a terrible inconvenience! When we go out, I just go to the car or to a private room (if it's just women I don't really care) and we do our thing! All I know is that I love it and I plan to cherish every second that I am able to do it.
Lastly, the bonding has been amazing. I love that feeling when she's a little fussy and ready to eat - I put her to my breast and she immediately calms down. It's so wonderful. I love knowing that everything she needs in means of food is coming from me and it is the absolute best she could ever have. That is pretty empowering.
My advice to future Mamas is to at least try breastfeeding. It is one of the most natural and beautiful things I have ever experienced. Also, it's the way God intended. & His design of the woman is sooo amazing. :)