Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to psych yourself up about breastfeeding #newmommyweek #worldbreastfeedingweek

So last year for National Breastfeeding week I posted about breastfeeding preemies, my only knowledge on the subject. This year, as I happen to be in the midst of posting things for new mommies (hence I created #newmommyweek, kinda just for fun but feel free to 'latch on' hyuk hyuk), I thought I'd write on the fears we all struggle with, when approaching the birth of our first child and the likelihood that we may stick our boobs in his/her mouth.

It sounds weird when you say it like that, twynmawrmom. 

I know, but guess what, breastfeeding is kinda weird. You are producing food. That's different than what we normally do.

Firstly, for some people, it feels good. Yes, for me it was, after the initial rough patch, an incredible release, almost like a runners high. You are sweaty, you are drained, and in a weird way, it feels good.

Oh this is a good metaphor, twynmawrmom, but I don't run. Can't ever, haven't ever. 

Well you don't know until you try, right? Take something else that requires a little bit of effort but feels good in the end...baking? College degree?

With baking, you have to lay out all your tools in front of you, know your oven, read the recipe, and still go at it with blind faith. You never know, even if you've done a specific recipe 500 times before, exactly how the dough will rise...

And that chem lab. That almost broke you from getting your degree. But you showed up. Every weekday morning at 8 am, rain or shine, understanding or not understanding the experiment for the day. You had to at least complete the class in order to graduate.

Now you've gone too far, twynmawrmom. Off topic. I don't get it. 

What I'm trying to say is, give it a try. There are a lot of things that we don't try because we are scared, and, skydiving notwithstanding, we are usually just afraid to FAIL, not afraid to DIE. See it as a job and you can only learn that job through on-the-job-training, trial-and-error, and sometimes, watching other people do that job.

Watching others breastfeed? Seriously, twynmawrmom? I'm not a hippie. 

Oh I know! I'm totally not either! But when I found out I was pregnant with twins, we contacted the only people we knew who had twins, and we didn't even really know them! They were just friends-of-friends we met at a party! It was totally weird, and her twins were 8 months old, but she took me upstairs after feeding me and my husband dinner (not breastmilk, FYI), and let me WATCH HER tandem breastfeed her twins! And, as awkward as it was for me at the time, I held on to that image in my mind for the remainder of my pregnancy and the first year of the twins' lives. It was helpful to know that it was possible, because she totally admitted she never thought she would, and it was helpful to know that it can be messy, and awkward, and silly, but: there are BENEFITS.

Yea, yea, I know, I'm supposed to breastfeed because it's good for the baby. But I have other things to do! I have to go back to work! I'm tired! I want the baby to sleep through the night. I have to have my body back. It's kinda gross, the baby loves the bottle and then I can get away for a little while, I don't know how much he's getting, everybody's always visiting and I can't set a good schedule, I still have to prepare bottles all the time so what's the point, and don't get me started on that stupid effin' pump, twynmawrmom, because that THING is for cows and I'm neither bovine nor machine!!!

I hear you. It's hard. There are a lot of obstacles. Not the least of which, your fear that it's just not gonna work. You're going to starve baby. Baby's going to be hungry in the middle of a traffic jam and your boobs are going to explode all over the steering wheel. You feel gross, and overweight, and not yourself, and this is the LAST thing on your mind. You gotta sleep train. You gotta lose weight. You gotta entertain all the relatives. It's just not your thing.

And the pump! Well I have to say, YES, that was awkward. But out of necessity with preemies, I started with a double hospital-grade pump and got to know my boobs very well before they were introduced to the babies. And I think that was really confidence-boosting. I knew what I could do, how my moods affected my supply, and what hurt and what didn't hurt, and then of course I still needed to trial-and-error with *each* child but we GOT there. We got there, folks. And it was worth it.

It'''s cancer-fighting. For you AND baby. That's like, 50 YEARS down the road you are providing preventative medicine. The first few days of breastfeeding [the 'liquid gold' they call it] enhances the lining of the intestinal tract in baby to improve digestion FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. Like, you breastfeed for 6 days and all of a sudden you've changed a person's GI tract.

It's weight-loss-enhancing. Now for some, yes, it makes you uber hungry, and I did actually gain 5 pounds in the first month because I didn't move from my nursing chair, but, again, it's the long term fat you are beginning to lose. It is literally causing your uterine muscles to contract so that they can regain their pre-baby shape. Muscles engaged! Like that info-mercial with the ab-wrap. No, your body will never be the same, but, this is a nudge - a BIG ONE - in the right direction.

It is baby-bonding. Of course, maybe you feel you have enough bonding, or maybe you are not keen on bonding with the pump at work while someone else is with your baby, but it is bonding in a whole other way. It is something only you can do for the baby. Grandma can't, Daddy can't, Nanny can't. Baby knows that. And it can be very calming to hold onto that thought when times are rough. Like, in the middle of the night when you need to effin sleep and only you can run to the baby. There's a reason all the mommies get thanked in the acceptance speeches. No, they didn't all breastfeed, but breastfeeding is a solid, physical representation of the role of motherhood and why mothers are the end-all-be-all of nurturing life. We feed the babies. We feed their minds, hearts, egos, and yes, bellies.

But what if I can't.

So you can't! So you tried. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with *not* breastfeeding. I'm not a nazi. And certainly families have morphed into all kinds of scenarios these days, and nurturing comes in many different forms, and babies know they are loved no matter what the source of birth, food, or protection is. There were many times I wanted to give up. But I'm really, really, glad that I didn't. And just like my 70.3 sticker, those days of training and breastfeeding are long gone, but no one can take it away from me now.

I said it before, and I'll say it again:
  • give yourself a minimal goal (like: 6 weeks)
  • surround yourself with people who will help you achieve that goal, and ask them to
  • give yourself a 'target' goal (like: 6 months)
  • reward yourself when you reach it
  • give yourself a 'fantasy' goal (like: more than 6 months)
  • hold on to that accomplishment for the rest of your life

My babies got cold bottles, warm bottles, formula bottles (powdered, pre-mixed, preemie, soy, normal), breastmilk bottles, one boob at a time, two boobs with two babies at a time, and sometimes one bottle and one boob on the same lap! 
And they learned, as I did, to take whatever came their way. 
You can, too.

Ok, ok twynmawrmom. Shut up already! I'll try.

Good luck new mommies! I love ya! 
Thanks for feeding the world!!

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