Well it's been almost 6 months now and I don't think I've ever really posted about my breastfeeding experience.
I'll start out by saying that if you asked me 5 years ago if I would breastfeed, I'm not sure what my answer would have been. Probably no. I don't know what changed my mind about it, but I did. Maybe it was my Sister-in-law having her 2 kids and having her breastfeed them? I don't know....I went into it very open minded though. I wasn't like "I have to breastfeed" and I wasn't like "I have to use formula". I went into it thinking "I'm going to try and breastfeed-if it works out, it works out. If not, I have other options."
Things started out very rough for me I'll admit. Avery was a very strong sucker from the beginning which was my saving grace. Our problem was that she would latch on, then fall off, latch on, fall off....repeatedly throughout feedings. The first few days in the hospital the lactation consultants would check on her and say she was doing just fine. I asked them several times for tips, to check her latch, etc and they all reassured me she was doing well with it.
Then Avery lost some weight and that turned on their red flags. Of course this was the day before we left the hospital. Well, the lactation consultant who was on that day was our angel-she took one look at how Avery was eating and knew something wasn't right. So she gave me the tool that would make this all possible. The medela nipple shield. This thing was a lifesaver-she latched right on and stayed on and did really, really well with it. We left the hospital on Tuesday and went to her pediatrician on Wednesday and by then she had already gained some weight back which was good news.
For some reason, they want you to wean off of using the shield. To this day I have no idea why-it may have to do with a supply issue or something. We used the shield for about 4-5 weeks I think-I started weaning her during the day first and she would only use it at night. Sometimes we wouldn't eat without it, sometimes she didn't want it. Eventually I just tried not using it and she did just fine! I know by her 2 month doctors appointment, she was completely done using it.
Of course when you start there is some pain involved. With Avery not staying latched well, she really tore up my nipples (sorry if TMI!)-so the shield helped heal them as well. That was pretty painful. Once I weaned her off of the shield I had some pain too since I no longer had the protection of the shield. I would say it took a few weeks before she would eat with it being pain free. I remember every time she would latch on it would feel like razor blades! It was just a few seconds but man did it hurt! But like I said, after a week or two it was completely gone and pain free. I can say now that it's been almost 6 months and I'm pain free and she's still eating really well.
I would have to say that breastfeeding is pretty challenging, but totally worth it. You are on demand all of the time so in the beginning it seems like you are constantly feeding them-every 2 hours and at first it takes them about an hour to eat. So yeah, you get an hour break between and that's about it. It is draining, it is demanding, but it gets better. Now she goes roughly 3 hours between feedings and it takes her about 20min to eat now so it's much better. Yeah there are times that formula would be so much easier, but the health benefits of breastfeeding are so much better. Any antibodies I build up, I pass onto her. Any illness she has, my body produces the antibodies and passes them along. And of course everyone knows that breastfeeding is a time for you and baby to bond. It's a wonderful feeling to look down into that little face when she's eating and to know she looks to you for nourishment. Not to mention how cool it is to know that she is growing and developing from something that came from ME! That is pretty damn cool!
So, my advice? Don't knock it until you try it! You might just end up liking it (and you'll be saving money too!)! In 2 weeks I'll be reaching a milestone of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding-that is one thing I'm very proud of! Then we'll start her on solids, but I'll still be mainly breastfeeding and will wean as we need to. I'll be sure to keep updates going on that!