Friday, May 20, 2011

One Year Later

What a difference a year makes! I hope you enjoyed the guest post by Wiski! She is an amazing woman and a true inspiration! She got through a lot of obstacles and was able to EBF while working full time for a full year. Her baby never had to have formula! That is a wonderful accomplishment.

Today is Lil Man's first birth day. He has changed so much and I am a bit teary eyed looking back on it all.

Recently, I have been able to talk, online and in person, with a lot of moms who are expecting. Many are just like me a year ago- planning on breastfeeding, but unsure of their bodies ability to accomplish this huge task of continuing to nourish their child outside of their womb.

It has really made me think. One year later, I know so much more than I did when I was in the hospital, giving birth to my son. For starters- I have learned that society is full of contradictions. Breastfeed, but have free formula samples. Nurse in public- but only with a cover. Or even, nurse in public- but if you use a cover you are ashamed.
Another thing I have noticed, is we tend to over think things. I remember taking the breastfeeding class and so much emphasis being put on proper latch. Honestly- none of the stuff about latch, and positioning, helped me after my son was born. All it made me do was over think his latch instead of focusing on the milk flowing and the bonding time. Granted- latch is important- I don't want to downplay that- but it is like chopsticks- most people don't use them correctly- but as long as you are using them in a way that works for you- that is all that matters. Holding a doll in a position to practice was completely different than holding my baby. None of that clicked. Their were good parts of the class, don't get me wrong, but I think these items were over emphasized and that is part of the reason so many moms give up on breastfeeding because of a "bad latch."
The biggest thing I have realized though, is that we as women, need to have more confidence in our bodies. We are MADE to do this- to feed our children. When we start out assuming we will have issues, it leaves us more open to falling for all the booby traps that are out there- slow weight gain, "low" supply (that is actually not low), and so much more. When we let nurses and doctors tell us that comforting a child at the breast is wrong, that nursing 24/7 is uncommon, and we buy into it- it is because we are doubting our roles as mothers and women. We are questioning our bodies.
I went into the hospital worried about supply. I had read somewhere that 1/3 of women with PCOS suffer from low supply. But that is not what I had read....later, I re-read the article. It was 1/3 of women with PCOS (in THIS study) REPORTED having low supply. That does not mean they actually had it, that it was caused by PCOS rather than other issues, or why they believed they had low supply. I later read an article that said only 8% of women with PCOS were actually diagnosed with low supply....but by that time, I had already fallen into the booby traps early on, and they did effect my supply.
I get it- we don't want to make women feel bad for combo feeding- and we shouldn't. I combo fed my son for 9 1/2 months. I felt guilt for the longest time that he was not EBF. I would never want any mom to feel guilt for that. After all, you are still providing the benefits of breastmilk and nursing to your child. However, there is a big difference between not making a mother feel guilty and helping her be set up to succeed.
When we start off telling a mother not to worry about EBF BEFORE her child is born, before she knows if she has supply issues, we are also playing into that mind-set that her body can not do this. We are telling her that it is ok and normal for her not to be able to do it....In other words, we are telling her that only the most exceptional women are able to exclusively breastfeed, and unless she is such, she needs to be prepared to give supplemental formula.
If I had the confidence before hand that my body was made to do this- I would have been ready to handle those booby traps I faced- pacifiers, "acceptable" weight gain, how often I nursed, etc. I didn't have that confidence though. I went in questioning it. I was a first time mom, worried about making sure my baby got the nourishment he needed, and knowing that my body already was not "natural" from infertility, felt that meant I would fail at this part of becoming a mother as well.
I am much wiser now. Educated by those who want me to succeed, and not just from random google searches that brought up articles on how I may fail. Fact based research has made me more confident that my next child will be EBF. I also have the confidence in my body. Even though I felt it failed this time, I see where the booby traps played a huge roll in this and understand now that I underestimated myself. You don't have to be exceptional to just have to believe in yourself and your body.

Now- before anybody thinks I am saying supply issues are not real- I understand they are real. I do. However, I think women are quick to assume it is their supply, and then fall into booby traps that actually DO diminish their supply. I think often times we want everything to go so naturally that when they don't we assume that our bodies have failed us. Most of the time this is not the case. But supply issues are real. However, unless an LC or OB has helped to diagnose that your supply truly is low- it shoould not be assumed.

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