Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Breastfeeding Squiggle: Part One

Yes, I know World Breastfeeding Week is over. But I didn't get around to this post before, and breastfeeding is important enough to talk about during the other 51 weeks as well.

I planned to breastfeed from the start. For many reasons.

1)  Cost. I will do many things to save a buck. Of course anyone who has seen how much formula costs know that nursing will save more than a buck. 

2)  Health. Sure there are lots of scientific studies that prove this. For babies: decreased illness both as an infant and later in life, decreased risk of SIDS, increased intelligence, etc. For moms: decreased risk for female cancers, faster postpartum recovery, this list goes on too.

For the less scientific, God designed the system. (If you don't believe in God, there is still the whole "natural" argument.) I know mankind is arrogant, but believing that anything pieced together from chemicals derived from different sources could be better than God's design is Frankensteinian thought. (Yes, I just made up that word.)

3)  Convenience. I took care of my sister's baby for a while. Here's how it looked.
Baby Sunshine starts fussing for food; I go to the kitchen and grab bottle and liner and nipple and formula. Sunshine whines; I put liner in bottle and open formula. Sunshine cries; I count out the right number of scoops of formula into bottle. Sunshine screams; I add water and stir formula gently so as to not create too many bubbles that will end up giving her gas later. Sunshine continues to scream and turns red; I cap the bottle and ignore the mess I've made, formula still uncovered, powder spilled from the scoop not fitting into the bottle, liquid spilled from stirring too frantically, etc. Sunshine is still red and screaming; I scoop her up and try to force the bottle into her gaping maw as she's too upset to realize that she has what she wanted.
Not the life I wanted to live on a regular basis with my own child. (And before anyone mentions feeding cues and how it would be different with my own child, the people who lived with her had the same experience. Sunshine's parents and live-in grandma very often couldn't get food in her fast enough to head off the meltdown.)

4)  Self-worth. This is where I sound a bit arrogant. I've always had nice breasts. They've garnered me a lot of attention through the years. Even when I'm not deliberately showing them off, they're kind of noticeable. I've always had a good relationship with them as decorations, but breastfeeding would give me a chance to use them to feed my baby. It is totally amazing and I get a heady feeling just thinking about the fact that breasts can make enough food to grow a delicate little newborn into a big, strong toddler.

Throughout my pregnancy I researched breastfeeding. I learned about technique and theory. My mom nursed my sister and me, but I grew up hearing about how my grandmother had wanted to breastfeed but couldn't. No explanation was given. Knowing my Scandinavian grandma, I'm surprised she ever mentioned it to my mom. Since she died many years ago it's too late to ask her directly. At least without a Ouija board. (It's a joke, folks.) I'll never know if the problem was biological or situational.

Then my sister had her child and was unable to breastfeed. My mom kept bringing the two of them up when I mentioned my plan to nurse. At times it felt like her attitude was to prevent me from being upset at possible failure, other times it felt like she didn't want me to succeed where my sister had failed. Yes, there are issues there.

Somehow none of my extensive research was into the "booby traps" that new moms can encounter. None of my friends had kids and my Internet searches never brought them up. So I marched into motherhood convinced that if I was physically able, I would have no problems nursing my new baby.

Since this post is getting longer than I realized, I will stop here and post the second half later.

No comments:

Post a Comment