J.E. asks from Marlborough, MA on May 26, 2009
Breastfeeding - Marlborough, MA
So I've mad a request about breastfeeding before and now I want to know what other breastfeeding moms REALLY think!?! :) Please tell me all of the pros and cons you've experienced as a breastfeeding mom. Please tell me how your hubby's feel? Are they feeling left out? Please tell me is it soooo great, or just eh'!?! I did not breastfeed my first two children, I am considering trying it out with our third who is due in Nov. I am trying to make a really informed decision about it and I of course do not want to jump "all in" with out hearing from my most wonderful resources. :)
Thanks in advance, J.
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So What Happened?™
Wow! Thanks so much for all of your responses. It's overwhelming the amount of support one can find on Mamasource. I thank you all for your thoughts and opinions. It just didn't work out with my first however I was very young and thought that it was something that would just happen and we also found out neither of us were doing it correctly which didn't help matters out at all, so I X-ed the thought right out of my mind when the 2nd came along and there wasn't a chance of me attempting it after the first terrible experience I had. Now pregnant with my 3rd, I think it's definitely beneficial for me to look into and get as much information as I can about it to make an informed decision. Bottle feeding both of my girls, we bonded greatly, they are healthy, not overweight, etc. however I do understand first hand how inconvenient it can be to have to prepare, wash, and warm bottles and also how expensive formula is...we'll see, I will be sure to update you all and let you know what we decide. :) Thanks again.
**Just to touch on a few comments, I do not think nor do I feel that I will be or am sorry that I didn't ever breastfeed my other children, to say that is really downright mean actually, I do appreciate positive feedback and do not want to hear how formula fed children are less better off, both my girls are smart, great, and no less better off because I chose to bottle feed them, so please only send out positive messages to me in regards to this question. I don't need to be "attacked" or put on trial for not BF my first two children. Thank you.
L.R. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
Congratulations! I breastfed my son who is now 2 and am planning to breastfeed the next child, due in December. For me there were no cons, only pros. My son latched on right away and was really healthy for the first year until he attended day care. I also took off my pregnancy weight very quickly within 4 months. He and I are really bonded. Actually, I continued the breastfeeding longer than I thought I would (for 15 months). We also saved a lot of money. When I needed a break, we did supplement with some bottles of formula and pumped breast milk. My husband didn't feel left out because when it was time for a bottle, I let him feed the baby. Good luck:)
M.G. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
I breastfed my daughter and it was a great experience. I was pretty despondent when she started weaning at 15 months :-) It instantly soothes the baby when she is cranky which is so useful. In the beginning it does take a month though for the nipples to get used to it. And get ready for the whole responsibility of feeding to fall on you!
P.J. answers from Hartford on May 26, 2009
It's wonderful that you are considering and gathering information about breastfeeding. I would be interested in knowing what has made you consider it after having formula fed your first two children. Most likely the benefits that you hear about in the news media, etc. At any rate congratulations on being open-minded enough to consider breastfeeding this baby.
I breastfed my three children and never considered any other options. I had no real challenges except the normal sleep deprivation that every new mother goes through no matter how she feeds her baby. Breastfeeding was the most wonderful, relaxing, calming, experience for me. That is why I chose to become an IBCLC and help other mothers through the challenges that sometimes come their way. The more you know about breastfeeding prior to having your baby the more prepared you will be. I would recommend the book The Seven Natural Laws of Breastfeeding by Nancy Mohrbacher as a wonderful resource to read prior to having your baby. The more you know about how breastfeeding works the more informed you will be. Also, attending a La Leche Meeting can be helpful or at least knowing who in the area will be available to answer questions or help IF help is needed.
For me, breastfeeding was the perfect way to not only
provide nutrition, but to bond and connect with my kids. With my second and third, being able to spend that special time with them during feeds was so calming. I was able to work full-time and continue to breastfeed easily on my return to work, also. Also, my three kids have really never been to the Pediatrician for a sick appointment - only school physicals, etc.
I wish you the best in your decision making and hope you will give breastfeeding a try.
P. Jones, IBCLC
Lactation Services of Southington
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M.D. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
You've gotten tons and tons of advice here, but I'll pipe in. I nursed my son (almost 4 now) to 18 months and now I am just starting to wean my 18 month old twins daughters. They all nursed exclusively for the first 6 months. I LOVED it. You always have the food with you, it soothes them, it's awesome cuddly time. My hubby never minded. Daddies can do lots of things to bond with baby. My advice: assume it will go ok. Don't worry about all the difficult things (I never experienced any). Solve problems as they arise. Get support from the lactation counselors if needed. Your nipples do need to get used to it, but it gets better quickly (usually as your milk comes in and the baby doesn't have to suck so hard, as milk is thnnier than colostrum). They do need to eat more often, but you just get used to it. I am not one who minds "whipping it out" anywhere, so it never mattered to me. I just went on with life and nursed where I was (you can easily do it discreetly). For me, there was no down side at all. Good luck!
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S.S. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
Lots of plusses and minuses, but like a previous respondent, I'll cover some of the negatives since plenty was said about the positives. I ended up nursing our now 12-year-old son for the first year of his life. It was well worth it but it was bumpy at the start.
I thought I'd love nursing (which I eventually did), but for the first month or two, I kept saying, "They SAY I'll learn to love this and it will be worth it...." But in the beginning, I wasn't so sure. It was all-consuming.
My nipples were raw (my sister joked that she used her breathing techniques for nursing more than for the birth itself); I had mastitis periodically (infection of the milk ducts); my breasts were the size of large grapefruit or bigger; if I was late for a feeding, I leaked all over the front of my clothing if I wasn't properly prepared; sometimes I just didn't want to be needed as often as I was needed (did I just say that?!) and I just wanted some extended time that was just for myself. Plus, it wasn't always totally intuitive to me and I felt inadequate when people would say "I just LOVED nursing." Is that enough of a rant? Oh, wait, one more...I had an emergency C-section so I was also recovering from the surgery which made it hard to sit up and hold my precious little bundle.
That being said, I also learned lots of tricks to help with those problems.
My nipples were raw, cracked, bleeding, etc. in the beginning...our son was a voracious nurser right from the start. My sister later said it helps to gently rub your nipples with a washcloth before your baby is born so that they get used to more activity. (NOTE: I still remember when our son was first brought into me to nurse. I said "Hello, little one." and he turned his head to figure out where that familiar voice was coming from! : D )
Had I known what I was getting into, I think I might have bought the double-breast pump earlier and expressed milk right from the start to give my nipples a break on occasion.
Warm baths and showers help a LOT to soothe the pain. Manually expressing milk during your shower can help clear out the ducts and infection. But it's kind of funny squirting breast milk during your shower. Nothing like adding to the entertainment of life.
I guess that's an individual thing. I swear they almost doubled in size! I was known for producing very rich, profuse amounts of milk at the daycare. We joked that I should sell it in bulk! I'm sure there could have been a market for it!
I bought a ton of nursing pads--cotton lined to absorb, waterproof material on the other side to protect my clothes. (Skip the disposable ones. Too expensive in the long run and not always as absorbant.) And not all washable nursing pads are equal. The slightly contoured ones worked the best for me. I could wash my pads to my heart's delight and have them at the ready any time I needed them. They were a godsend! Sometimes they leaked, if I was flowing too freely, but in general they worked like a charm.
NOT WANTING TO BE NEEDED THAT MUCH
You have to remember this was our first and ultimately our only child. I just wanted uninterrupted sleep, to finish a project, or to read a book without interruption, and...did I mention sleep? You're already aware of what being a parent does to your free time, so that may not be an issue for you. : )
At about 6-8 weeks or so, I started pumping with a breast pump so that I could save some milk for my husband to do some night feedings. He was a saint! He always woke up much better at night than I did. (And we had our secret weapon...Mr. Clock...a old-fashioned wind-up clock that did wonders for putting our son back to sleep.)
I quickly learned that a single pump was not going to work. I'd start pumping one side and the other side would start flowing. I eventually bought a Medela Pump-in-Style breast pump. It is a double pump so you can express milk from both breasts at the same time. Those things were brilliant!
Sometimes I had to chuckle because I kept imagining the sound of milking machines in a cow barn. To this day, I remember the sound of the pump. But it was totally worth it. And your health insurance, if you have it, may kick in for some of the cost. The pump is not exactly inexpensive but it is TOTALLY worth it!
The pump helped me to get a break on occasion or to go out on an errand on my own (gasp!), knowing our son had lots of yummy mommy's milk at the ready. Plus, it gave my husband a chance to bond wonderfully with our son as well. It even gave me a rest if I had plugged ducts and I could feed him with the bottle. And it helped when my breasts were ready to bust but our son was sleeping.
I truly came to love nursing and found it easier and cheaper than formula, but you couldn't have convinced me of that in the beginning.
We smile about it now, but my husband and I actually got into arguments about the "right" way to nurse--what angle was best, was our son getting enough milk, too much milk, etc.? What classic first-timers we were!
When I would be somewhere other than home, it felt like such a production, when pulling out a bottle seemed so much easier. However, I learned through time that it really was easier--no clean water source to find, no storage issues, just stop the car and nurse, then merrily continue on your way. (But I was never one of these people who could go without a bra. Small-breasted women could probably skip the bra, making the nursing thing a lot easier--no unhooking and rehooking the bra to contend with.)
When I first started nursing, I was still recovering from my c-section. It was hard to sit up without discomfort, it was hard to switch positions without pain. Call me a wimp, but I'm lucky I had help in the beginning for setting up pillows, etc. Eventually, we figured out a system that worked well. I would sit in my husband's grandfather's old leather chair. It rocked and was big enough to handle a bed pillow on my lap with our son on top of that. We could both then relax in comfort as our son nursed. Ahhhhh...
I didn't mention this above, but the decision also depends on how comfortable you are with the idea of nursing. I was totally comfortable with nursing, but my in-laws felt really weird about it. We struck up a compromise. I would put a soft blanket over my shoulder so that they felt comfortable still being in the room. Our son could nurse but it was discreet enough for their comfort zone. Personally, I think it was kind of a cozy little spot for our son!
So, there you have it. A bunch of cons, but also ways to get around them to make it a better experience. Good luck deciding! Regardless of your decision, enjoy your bigger family this fall.
P.S. Not everyone can breastfeed. A friend's baby wasn't getting enough nutrition from her milk and needed to go to formula. But you'll find out if and when you get there.
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L.D. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
When you look at the differences between bottle and breastfeeding, the benefits of breastfeeding are a no-brainer. Pick up the latest issue of Mothering Magazine (sold in Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble)there is an amazing article about just this issue! Also this article from Mothering is amazing as well: http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/breastfeeding/...
Also check out these articles from Dr. Sears: http://askdrsears.com/html/2/t020700.asp
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing we can do, is best for mom & baby, is MUCH cheaper, and it actually helps you lose that postpartum baby fat. Do your own research, you will find there is no comparison. From a personal experience, I enjoy breastfeeding, it boosts serotonin & prolactin ~it makes you feel relaxed and happy, why wouldn't you breastfeed!?
Good luck and congratulations!
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L.B. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
I see you have a million responses to this post, but as I read through them I noticed only one that mentioned the negatives and even she minimized them (in my opinion). It seems you know all the positives and since you asked, I'll chime in with some of the negatives.
Sore nipples. I guess people did address this one. This didn't actually happen to me. But I believe it's been covered.
You are tied to your baby. Leaving him/her for more than a couple hours is almost impossible. And even that requires a great deal of planning. I know a lot of people tell you you can pump for those occasions, but that never worked for me. I had enough milk to feed four babies, but couldn't manage to pump much at all. That's possibly something that won't be a problem for you. But even if you are able to pump, your outing requires precision timing so that you can feed the baby before you leave and, invariably, the baby will not cooperate on such occasions!
No one else can feed your baby. Your husband cannot help you with the middle of the night feedings. It's all you. Something I've seen a lot of on this forum is bf mom's having issues getting their child to take a bottle - breast milk or other. Even if your baby will take a bottle, it's still going to be you, almost exclusively, feeding your baby. My husband and I had an agreement that I would do all the middle of the night feedings anyway, so it was really not an issue for me, but I've heard other moms complain about it.
Unless you are completely uninhibited, breast feeding away from home can be a challenge. Yes, I know... it's all very natural, blah, blah, blah. BUT that wasn't much of a consolation when I was sitting across the table from my father-in-law, or my husband's boss, or I'm in the middle of the mall, or.... If you are not shy about it, then great! It will make your life much easier. I was a little self-conscious and it made certain situations a little uncomfortable or inconvenient or both.
So there you have some negatives to make an informed decision. I won't go into the positives, because I believe other people have covered that and then some. Suffice it to say that although my children are grown (29, 24, 21) I remember all the negatives as well as the positives. But I happily I breast fed all three of my children and would definitely do it again, if given the chance.
Oh one more thing. Something no one ever told me. When nursing your first born, in the first couple weeks, you have some slight cramping. When you nurse your second born, you have some very noticeable cramping. With your third... some very intense cramping! It's actually good for your body and I wouldn't categorize that as negative, necessarily. It certainly wouldn't have stopped me from nursing. But I sure wish someone had warned me!
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L.S. answers from New London on May 26, 2009
I breast fed for 10 and a half months. The first two or three weeks were torture, the first week was especially horrid. The first few days you have to breastfeed every few hours to help your milk come in. Even though baby isn't getting milk, he is getting colustrum, which is full of nutrients. It does became much easier and I can totally understand why moms would give it up after that first week or two. You think, how could I possibly do this again, I would cry just thinking about it. But it got easier and easier and your nipples just get used to it and your baby gets used to latching on. At first it felt like a rabid animal was latched on to my boob! I was on pain meds the first week and it helped and when my milk came in I was praising God! It does become easier and it was easier and cheaper than formula feeding which I did after breastfeeding and it is so so good for baby. It became so easy that I am glad I stuck with it. Plus the savings on formula were huge! The drawbacks are that I had to wear a bra to bed at night for 10 and half months because my breasts leaked and you can't stray too far from baby for more than 4 hours or your boobs feel like they are going to explode (well not that bad but you know what I mean), I didn't like to pump at all so I commend all the moms who do. My husband was fine with breastfeeding. It was new to both of us and we became used to it. It became second nature. Sometimes I would pump milk into a bottle so my husband could feed the baby and that helped him bond more with him. I say just try it and if it isn't working for you, then don't worry to much about it. At least you gave it a try and it will only help your baby and your pocketbook! ;) I do have to say that when I was done with breastfeeding, I felt liberated but I was glad I did it. Oh yeah, one more thing, when you breastfeed you get these endorphins that allow you to be more awake and energized, when I stopped breastfeeding those endorphins went away and I was exhausted. So that is another big plus to breastfeeding.
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A.M. answers from Hartford on May 27, 2009
Breastfeeding is awesome! It's so easy... it's always available, it's free... you never have to think about food. I nursed my son till 2yo. But that isn't why I did it. I'm a doctor and I know that it is the best possible thing you can do for your baby's health and immune system... it's also the best possible thing you can do for them emotionally and nothing creates a better bond. Please try it... the first few days can be hard but then it's so easy.
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B.A. answers from Boston on May 27, 2009
I think its very wise for you consider all your options before you decide to breastfeed. It is certainly an experience, as opposed to a 'task' and like any experience it has its pros and cons. Hubbies sometimes DO feel left out, but they can easily be included by you pumping some of your milk and encouraging your husband to take part in the feeding that way.
I personally breastfeed my two children (now 13 and 16) and it wasn't just 'eh' for me. For me, it was a natural continuation from the womb, and the babies reliance on me for sustenance. I felt really positive about the nutritive benefit I was providing for my baby, and the maternal connection and closeness I felt during the experience was very gratifying. It was like I had the opportunity to ease my baby into life through the natural process of breastfeeding.
What I would highly recommend (I couldn't have been so successful with my second baby, Nicholas without it), is a baby sling. My oldest daughter, Kayla, who was 3 at the time was able to hold my full attention while Nicholas was safely cocooned in the sling. I could even breastfeed him, no hands! This made the job of caring for an active three year old MUCH easier, and provided the physical closeness that seemed to calm and soothe the baby.
It sounds like you'll have your hands full. Best of luck, with whatever decision you make, and to your growing family.
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