Stephanie has shared her experience of bottle-feeding her first and breastfeeding her second with us. Check out Stephanie’s blog here http://whencrazymeetsexhaustion.wordpress.com, for her honest, funny commentary on motherhood.
I always wanted to breast feed. I figured it would be easy because it’s natural. Like, that’s why women have breasts–to sustain life! And I was really excited about the prospect of being a part of something some intensely emotional like that. But an emergency C-section + a horrific stay in the hospital + and someone weighing my son, Brady, incorrectly which resulted in him being taken from me for THIRTEEN hours = my chances were slim. I was in so much pain after the surgery, and the nurses really weren’t equipped to handle me! They thought they would just hand me a bottle and my baby and I would be quiet. Nope. I wanted to nurse!! Because Brady was away from me for so long, we didn’t get much practice in the hospital, but when the time came, we tried everything to help him latch; even this drip line that I’m sure has a more formal name, but the nurse was so exasperated by the time she hooked it up to me that it broke. The breast milk that I had expressed spilled all over the floor and I lost my cool. I no longer wanted the nurses’ help–I DIDN’T NEED THEM! (Aren’t hormones awesome?!) Only, I did. But by the time I realized it, I was at home and it was 2 weeks later. I had given up on nursing Brady and instead pumped morning, noon, and night to give him breast milk in a bottle. That lasted about 4 months and then I got clogged milk ducts. OUCH. I gave up pumping shortly thereafter and we switched to formula. Not my proudest Mommy Moment, but life goes on.
My daughter, Ella, was born 22 months later and I was adamant that not only would I have a vaginal birth, but I would breast feed immediately after she was born. I’m a bit aggressive when I want something (that’s a good thing, right?!), so I hired a doula to help my husband and me during the labor and birthing process. Everything was absolutely perfect. I was a successful VBAC momma, AND my girl latched right away. There was never an issue or a challenge when it came to nursing my daughter. It was heavenly. I felt so accomplished when the nurses would compliment the “excellent latch,” even though I had zero to do with it. I had no problem whipping out a boob wherever I was, either. I took my nursing cover and if the child was hungry, she ate. I got a few “ewww” looks from some people, but I could not have cared less. What I was doing (feeding my baby) was MUCH more important than what they were doing (passing judgement on a new mother–jerks!). I nursed in restaurants, in church, at the park–anywhere! I think it’s super important for moms to realize that nursing isn’t something to shy away or feel the need to hide. I’m not advocating stripping down by the sliding board to nurse your baby, but you get the point!
In all honesty, I loved nursing my daughter 99% of the time. However, I truly feel like she did not bond with anyone else (even her DAD!) because she was so dependent upon me…and my boob! She vehemently refused to take a bottle of expressed milk, so I was literally the only one who could feed her. And, of course, nursing became a source of comfort for her, too. So, when she was hungry, she wanted me. When she was sad, she wanted me. When she was tired, she wanted me. This also meant that I couldn’t be away from her for more than 3 hours at a time. It got a little overwhelming and right around 5 months, I thought about throwing in the towel and just insisting she drink formula from a bottle. But I persevered and Ella nursed until she was just about a year old. My opinionated little gal was the one to make the decision that our nursing relationship was over; I could tell she was less interested in eating and more interested in gnawing on something to make her budding gums feel better. That only worked well for one of us.
If I have another baby, I would still like to nurse. BUT I plan on introducing the bottle right away, too. This way, my baby can still have the breast milk, but will have the opportunity to bond with dad, grandma, etc., too. I felt like my husband and so many other family members missed out on the first part of Ella’s life because she was quite the project. In contrast, my bottle-fed Brady was on everyone’s lap, happily lapping up the formula. Of course, I don’t have scientific proof that Ella’s demeanor was a direct result of nursing, nor that Brady’s steady smile was because he took a bottle. I’m sure many nursing moms have pleasant babies who allow everyone to hold them and will even take a bottle sometimes. I didn’t! But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try my hand at nursing another baby; I absolutely would. It’s healthy, has a trillion benefits, and I truly enjoyed it.