Short Stories About Breastfeeding
By One of Our Site Guests
I think breastfeeding is a very personal choice, and every woman does what she feels is best for both her and her baby. I am the mother of two boys, ages 4 and 20 months, with baby No. 3 coming in May. I always thought I would breastfeed my children; it just seemed the natural choice for me. When my first son was born I soon learned that things don’t always go as planned. I also learned that we make the best choices we can at the time. The story I am about to relate is about the trials, tribulations, successes and joys I have experienced with my first two sons and why I feel breastfeeding is the perfect choice for the newest addition to our family.
The birth of my first son, Braden, was absolutely overwhelming to me. I had dreamed of this day for the vast majority of my life and it was finally here. It was not, however, the smooth transition I had hoped for. My water had broken before labor began in earnest, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid and his cord was around his neck. All of these factors conspired to make for a long and difficult labor which culminated in three and a half hours of pushing, an exhausted mommy and a beautiful little boy who was whisked away to the NICU. It seems that he wasn’t breathing quite right at birth. So, not only did I not get to nurse him immediately, I barely got to hold him. Luckily his breathing issues were very short lived and he was back in my arms about an hour later. So there I was, not having slept in 36 hours or eaten in 24 and having just experienced the single most emotional event of my entire life! This began our breastfeeding journey together. You see, Braden didn’t latch on particularly well, so I had lactation consultants in to try to help. He did latch on and nurse; he just wasn’t very enthusiastic about it.
We went home and things seemed to be going fairly well for the first several days except that I was making enough milk to feed an army and he couldn’t keep up. This led to discomfort for me and probably frustration for him. It was about six days after he was born that I developed a uterine infection and my temperature actually climbed to 105 degrees F. I was completely out of it. Braden didn’t want to be up against me and my extremely hot body, and I was barely with it enough to nurse him anyway. So I pumped and my mother and husband gave him bottles of expressed breast milk.
After that ordeal, he was even less excited about nursing, and I found myself sick and rather depressed from all the recent events. Braden was only 2 weeks old when I decided to switch to bottle-feeding for him. I had a lot of guilt at the time, but I was also relieved to not be struggling with it several times a day. Looking back, I feel I made the best decision for both of us at that time, which is not to say I would make the same decision again. I was simply overwhelmed.
My second son, Saras, came into the world via a very smooth induction. His labor was considerably shorter and easier than Braden’s and with no complications. Saras came out of the womb, went straight to the breast and stayed there for 10 months. I thoroughly enjoyed nursing him. It was convenient, economical and easy. In fact, it was so easy and I enjoyed it so much I actually delayed giving him solid food because it was so much simpler to lift my shirt and nurse him. I also found it comforting to know that he was receiving the best possible nutrition and that he may avoid some of the allergy problems his brother encountered as well. I think I would have nursed him forever, but at 10 months he decided that he was too busy to be bothered with anything that he couldn’t carry with him. This apparently included Mommy’s breast. He moved on to the sippy cup and never nursed again. At least I could take solace in the fact that he made the choice himself and was ready to stop.
Saras did, in fact, experience fewer allergies than Braden and was a generally healthier baby. Was this a result of the breastfeeding or did he simply get Daddy’s immune system rather than Mommy’s? I will never know. Do I feel that breastfeeding was more of a bonding experience? Not really. I simply feel that we make the best decisions we can for each of our children and that breastfeeding is the best choice if it is at all possible. I have many reasons for feeling this way. Among them are economics, simplicity and convenience. The economic advantages are obvious when you look at formula prices. As for ease and convenience, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is not to have to warm a bottle for a hungry baby or carry coolers and bottles everywhere you go. I also worried a lot less about the weight gain and nutrition of my breastfed son. I’ll never be able to put into words the joy of the two of us falling asleep together nursing and waking the same way. Don’t misunderstand me; my first child and I share an incredible and unique bond that I don’t believe could be stronger if he had breastfed. I did, however, enjoy breastfeeding much more than bottle-feeding and am excited to nurse our new little miracle coming in May.