Monday, September 13, 2010

The Cloth Diaper Addiction Post

So, I had spoken to Kristina over at The Cloth Diaper Addiction about writing a post for her upcoming Breastfeeding series this week.  I sat down to type what I thought was a wonderful and helpful post on my experiences as a breastfeeding mother as well as an L&D nurse who has helped thousands of mommas nurse their infants.  I sat and I typed, and as I concluded my thoughts, I noticed that what was to be a POST on a blog was a three page single spaced Word document!!!  WOW!  I did not know that I had that much to say!  So I am obviously going to edit and cut the heck out of my post for her, but I decided to post my masterpiece in its entirety on my blog.  So sit down, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy my thoughts!  Comments welcome, of course!!!  And stay tuned to The Cloth Diaper Addiction for the edited version!

First a little about me.  As a young child, I was fascinated with breastfeeding.  While playing with my dolls, I would imagine and play the role as the mommy giving birth, breastfeeding, and doing things with my family.  For a kid, this was strange behavior, I know!  But now, I realize that my brain was just a little beyond my years!  I am not sure why I was so fascinated with birth and breastfeeding.  No one in my family talked about birth, I was the youngest of everyone!  And no one in my family breastfed!  My brother and I were bottle fed, all of my cousins, and even my parents!  So I have NO CLUE where this came from!  I guess I was just destined and perfectly suited from birth to be a mommy as well as a Labor and Delivery RN.  And it is no wonder, that when I found out that I was pregnant, there was no decision to be made about bottle vs. breast…I WAS breastfeeding.  Lucky for me, I have an ultra supportive husband whose response to was “I like that idea…it’s FREE!”  He never once questioned my desire to breastfeed!

I have to say, the one thing that I stress to all of my new mommies and what I believe was the biggest part of my success in breastfeeding my daughter, is education.  Why?  Education leads to comfort, and comfort leads to you being comfortable, baby being comfortable, and with this 90% of breastfeeding issues disappear!  So what does this mean?  Talk with breastfeeding mothers about their experience (make sure to take everything with a grain of salt!!), go to a breastfeeding class, contact your local La Leche League Rep, practice different positions with a baby doll or rolled up towel (find the position comfy for you), and all BEFORE baby arrives!!!

The more you know before baby arrives, the easier it will be once baby is actually here!  Yes, when you go to the hospital, there are a TON of lovely nurses (such as myself!) and Lactation Consultants that can coach you and teach you about the art of breastfeeding.  But picture this.  You have just labored for 24 hours and pushed for 3 hours (or you may have had a C-Section).  You are beyond exhausted.  You are now three days behind (if not more) on sleep.  You have dreamed of the perfect moment when your baby is finally in your arms and you can gracefully ease baby to the breast and start your beautiful journey.  But it is 5:00 in the morning, the baby won’t stop screaming, and you just want to pass out.  Everything those wonderful nurses are saying is going in one ear and out the other.  You are not able to pay attention nor retain any of it.  This is when all of that education and practice comes into play because you have already placed that knowledge.  You get through that first feeding, probably not as gracefully as you had hoped, you get some sleep, and when baby is ready for feeding number two, you tackle breastfeeding again!

And don’t get discouraged.  That first feeding is NEVER what you imagined.  The key to remember is that you have never done this.  And neither has baby!  It is a learning process for both of you!  And until your milk comes in (2-7 days after delivery) the baby will only be getting drops of that thick (and ultra loaded with nutrients) colostrum.  You and baby will have to work pretty hard to get those liquid gold drops into baby’s belly.  This leads to mommy frustration and baby frustration.  You get upset because hormones are running rampant and you feel like you are letting your baby down and baby gets frustrated because his/her belly is hungry and the food is not getting there fast enough.  It is normal for all to get frustrated.  Just try to remember, keep calm and relaxed, keep trying to latch baby, and eventually, baby will calm down, latch, and get enough to be satisfied.  It also takes time to figure out what positions work and what don’t work.  Trial and error is how you get through those first few days until you get a routine that works.  And as baby grows, you have to trial and error along the way to accommodate growth or preference changes.

Like I said above, education is number one followed closely by comfort.  The first time, and any time, you try to breastfeed, get comfy first.  Make sure you are either seated or laying comfortably (there are many different positions), your arms are propped on pillows or a nursing pillow (boppy), make sure mommy is comfortable BEFORE you try to latch.  If you are uncomfortable or trying to do some crazy position and muscles are twitching/shaking, baby can sense that and feel that and will not latch.  So make sure that you and baby are both relaxed and comfy before every session!  Many of the breastfeeding issues that mommies encounter (such as latch/suck issues) can all be cured with comfort.  The number one reason why a baby won’t latch is a comfort issue.  If you do have a latch/suck/etc problem that is not resolved by comfort or a position change, this is when those lovely nurses, Lactation Consultants, the local La Leche League Rep, or other breastfeeding coaches come in handy.  You don’t hear about it, but there are people around that can help!  Make some calls and inquiries.  If nothing else, call your OBGYN or Pediatrician, they will know where to find some help.  Or give a call back into L&D at the hospital; we will answer questions 24/7!!!  We can’t make house calls like some of the other agencies, but we are open 24 hours a day for phone calls!  And if we can’t answer your question, we will find someone who can!

I think because I have worked on L&D for so long, this was a huge factor in my breastfeeding success.  I was comfortable with breastfeeding and had the knowledge base too.  I remember thinking how odd it was that first feeding.  I had helped thousands of women to nurse, and now here I was letting a child suck on my nipple!!  Those first few seconds were WEIRD!  Looking down and seeing her latched on was just the strangest feeling, but just a few seconds later, I was amazed at the beauty!  I could have easily pulled her off in those first few seconds and quit, because it truly was the strangest feeling, but I am so glad in retrospect that I didn’t because honestly, 10 seconds later, I was in love with breastfeeding!  Not everyone loves it!  And breastfeeding is not for everyone!  Yes, we have all heard that “breast is best.”  And while this is still true, formula is a close second.  For those moms that can’t breastfeed (for medical reasons), for those who don’t want to breastfeed, or for those who try to breastfeed and hate it or have problems with it, formula is fine too!  You have to do what is right for YOU and for BABY!  No one else matters!  This may mean breastfeeding or it may mean bottle feeding!  But only the two of you can decide!

I was very fortunate in my breastfeeding experience.  My daughter latched perfectly that very first feeding.  We had some bumps along the road.  In that first week we started having some latch issues.  I quickly figured out that she would only nurse football position on the right and cradle position on the left.  But like I said, trial and error is the only way you get through.  When she was 9 weeks old, I had to go back to work.  So I had to start pumping when she was 4-5 weeks old to get my freezer loaded!  She took a bottle with no problems and no confusion (I was very very lucky!).  I kept telling myself that if I could get to 6 months, I would be so happy!  Six months came and we were doing so well and I was still in love with breastfeeding, so we continued.  My plan was now to get to a year.  At 8-9 months my supply dwindled.  I was sick to my stomach with worry that I wasn’t going to breastfeed to a year.  But I pumped more and got my supply back up slowly.  I lived in fear every day that I was going to dry up.

It’s funny.  You don’t think of breastfeeding as stressful!  But we as mommies put a lot of stress and burden on ourselves.  Being the sole provider of nutrition for your infant is A LOT of stress!  And you live in fear for the duration of breastfeeding that your milk will not last.  They call mommy’s milk liquid gold for a reason…and yes, we cry over spilled milk!!!

By 11 months, she was weaning herself.  She was only nursing 3 times a day and I could feel my milk drying up.  So at 11 ½ months, I introduced whole milk.  She didn’t even notice the difference.  I bawled.  My baby girl did not even care that there was cow’s milk in her sippy and not mommy’s milk.  It was very hard for me, but I knew that it was just one more sign that my baby was growing up.  At 12 months she was only nursing 1-2 times a day, and my milk was almost completely dried up.  So at 12 ½ months, we had our last breastfeeding session.  It was harder on mommy than it was on her.  She never once asked for the breast or seemed to miss it after.  That was very hard for me.  I would have loved to have nursed her longer, but it was just not meant to be.

We all have to make decisions that are best for us and for our children.  Obviously feeding preference at birth is a big decision.  For some it is a simple decision, for some it takes thought, and for some it is a HUGE decision.  Whatever you decide will be the right one.  You have to do what is right for mommy and baby!  And keep in mind, there are more than two feeding options.  Most people see a line drawn in the sand between breast and bottle.  This is not the way of the world.  There are so many other options.  First, you can exclusively bottle feed or exclusively breastfeed.  Then, there are the moms who EBF for 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 etc weeks.  Some people have a set time limit.  It may be due to work or it may just be preference at that point to stop breastfeeding and switch to bottle.  Then there are the combination feedings.  Some new moms have issues (such as nipple cracking…use Lanolin from the first feeding mommies!!!) and start pumping early.  This way baby is getting mommies milk but giving the nipples a rest and time to heal.  Some mothers also do this for other reasons (going back to work, don’t like breastfeeding, or they pump to get some REST and some one else can feed baby!).  Then there are also supplementing options.  Some moms chose to breastfeed and then supplement with formula a certain number of feedings.  Like I said, there are a TON more options that just breast or bottle.  And you have to find the one that works best for you and baby!

Feeding preference is a decision that every mommy has to make for herself!  I hope that this post helps some of you lovely ladies out!  I would love to answer any questions you may have or give any help/advice!  And if I can’t help you, I can find someone who can!  You can always find me on my blog as well where I talk about breastfeeding, cloth diapers, and other mommy/baby related things!!!  I will be starting cloth diaper reviews soon too!!



  1. Great article!! Enjoyed reading it. I was fortunate to be able to BF both of our daughters.

  2. I didn't realize you have a blog, Laura. I saw your FB post about the diaper cake, and now I'm checking out some of your other posts too.

    I must say I am impressed with what I just read. I like how you are encouraging mommies to do whatever works best for them and their baby...whether it be to breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, a combination of those, or whatever. As mothers, we all need to stick together and be supportive of each other, even when their decision isn't one that we would make...and I am glad to see you doing that. :)

    I do think it's great how you girls today have so much support in the breastfeeding world. Back in the day (LOL) it seems we either did it on our own, or didn't do it. I tried with my first baby and didn't make out well at all with it, and I wouldn't even try the second time around. So you girls keep being supportive of one another. :)