Last week was World Breastfeeding Week and I read some pretty cool articles published & lots of blogs by local mamas; laughed at some Ryan Gosling (Goosling? Don’t know the proper sp) images with breastfeeding references; and was amazed by the events to educate the public and support BFeeding moms. As a mom who has now nursed two, a LLL leader and a woman in general nursing is near and dear to my heart. However, through all this, I was at home sick, with mastitis. Yup, during a happy & fun week where I could have been participating in Breastfeeding Chicago or the Big Latch’s events was on the couch exhausted, nursing, watching “Willy Wonka” too many times, popping a million supplements and antibiotics to get this gone!
Why then, am I even writing this? It’s not encouraging, it’s not funny, it’s kind of a bummer. Well, because it reminds me why I am a LLL leader, why I am active in the moms groups I am and why I like to be around to support local BFeeding moms. Because BREASTFEEDING IS NOT EASY!
Best when possible? Yes.
Easy? Not so much.
Many of you know that both my girls had a rough start with nursing. My milk takes forever to come in. On the “3-4 day” mark, mine comes in like day 5 or 6…and it’s NEVER that massive supply most moms feel. Lil had weight gaining issues (which was probably just from too much IV fluids) Ana has a goofy latch…it’s just the luck of the draw. One thing is certain though, I NEVER could have successfully and sanely nursed them without my hubby’s help and my support network.
Women are set up to fail in this society…let’s face it. We are told to do x, y, and z but x and z might completly hamper the natural production of milk. For example, newborns only need to nurse every 2-3hrs, for 15-20minutes on each side. Really? Who came up with this? Do you know that Breastmilk is digested in about 90minutes? So let’s do some math.
In my senario the girls only take on side each nursing (another myth, some moms have larger storage capacity NOT relative to breast size & babies will sometime take both, other times just one!). So, let’s say newborn Ana started nursing at 10am, first drop of milk has begun digesting…she nurses for say a half hour & falls asleep. Ok, cool. Time to put her down and go do something while baby sleeps with a full tummy till next nursing at noon or 1pm, right? Ha, figure by the time she gets done nursing (about 10:30), getting her down by herself (say 10:40ish) and now downstairs getting Lil a snack (10:45ish) I have approx 45mins before newborn decides she’s starting to get hungry again. Or, if I’m lucky, and she does sleep for an hour or two, she will wake SCREAMING because she has an empty belly and then spend an hour nursing to make up for time sleeping.
Making milk & nursing takes time & energy.
So, let’s assume we don’t get sucked into any of the “booby traps”, supply is great, baby is happy, we are now a few months in and all seems to be well. Ha, now we run across plugged ducts. Crap, now it’s mastitis and it’s bad…meds are probably a good idea. Then we have an urgent care MD who isn’t quite up to speed that says “you probably shouldn’t nurse while you have an infection and on an antibiotic.” Sigh, ok doc, thanks for the meds but have you ever heard of Hales book/website where you can look up meds and if they are safe or not? (Btw, most antibiotics are completly safe for nursing) And if there is a plugged duct causing this and I need to get the milk OUT to get that to go away how exactly do you suggest I do this? Sigh.
This is why I am a LLL leader. This is why I try to be active in my community. Because sometimes, with outdated or conflicting information, it just takes someone saying “You can do this, it gets easier” or “yes, it is hard, some mama’s find ____ helps” or “I’ll look that up for you”. My recent bout of mastitis reminded me of this and that I am making a difference. Especially because even with all the knowledge I’ve gained through being a mom, from leader training, as a leader, from conferences, and the stuff I’ve picked up from an LC friend of mine, even I needed some help. When NOTHING seemed to be helping I knew I had people to reach out too.
I’m thankful for all the wonderful women in my life who have supported, helped and educated me. Thankful for these reminders that I can make a difference and thankful for the opportunities to be that support to other moms. Happy belated World Breastfeeding Week to all the nursing or soon to be nursing mamas out there! May you continue to nurse your little ones and helping to normalize breastfeeding for women of the next generation!