Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dear Mama-to-be, Love Baby

Dear Mama,

Right now, you are getting all geared up for my arrival. The nursery is ready, the co-sleeper or crib is set up, you have probably folded and re-folded my clothes a million times. You have a birth plan in place, and hopefully, since you are reading this, you have decided that part of that plan is to breastfeed to give me some important nourishment.

Mama, I want to tell you something, I have heard you say "I am going to TRY and breastfeed." I am so happy that you are giving it a go, and I want you to know, you don't have to try, YOU CAN! Look at how amazing your body has been already. It has already provided for me during these crucial 40(ish) weeks, and it will continue to provide for me for the next 6 months and beyond. There doesn't need to be a "try" about this mama, so please, don't doubt yourself, or your body. You can do this.

I heard your friend telling you how her milk wasn't in so a few days after giving birth she went to formula. I promise you Mommy, all I need for those first days is the colostrum your body is most likely already producing. In fact, I would feel deprived if that colostrum was taken from me, replaced by instant breastmilk. That liquid gold is so packed full of antibodies, it will help my immune system more than you could know.
She told you her baby was fussy and eating all the time, so she knew it was starving. Mom, I will be fussy and I will want to eat all the time. I mean, I just came from this great situation where I had nourishment flowing to me ALL. THE. TIME. out into this world where I have to cry or give cues to get fed. My stomach is still tiny (marble size), and can not hold much milk. On top of that, mama milk is made specifically for me, which means I can digest it easy, and so I will want it more often. BUT- I promise this stage won't last long. I promise I will eventually spread out my feedings, I will learn to eat quicker, and that we will get this thing down. Just please don't give up on it on your worst day, and please, stick it out for a few months. We both have some learning to do here.

I heard Grandma telling you that she wanted to help feed the baby so you should supplement, or pump. I love Grandma, but please let her know, that this new world will confuse me a lot, and I need to know where my food is coming from- from mama. I need that bonding time, that special nourishment, and I might get confused if someone tried to feed me some other way before I am ready (in 6-8 weeks at the earliest). I also hope you will let her know, that formula is not a replacement for breastmilk, and that, while it has it's place in this new world, it is not as nutritionally tailored to my needs as your breastmilk.
Could you also let her know that there will be lots of other ways for her to help and bond? Let her know that baths, diaper changes, and just cuddling with me will let me bond with her and know that she is someone who loves me.

I heard Daddy say that he was nervous about you feeding me out in public. Please let him know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Remind him that his child needs to eat, and that the benefits of breastfeeding completely outweigh the "embarrassment factor" he is worried about. Assure him that it will be discreet, maybe find some pictures to show him of women nursing discreetly. Let him know that after a few months, it will be nothing to him, and to please not worry about it.

I heard at the breastfeeding class the lady said I should eat every 2-3 hours. I hope you know this is for older babies. I may need to eat every hour, on the hour, for an hour at first, but again, it won't last long.
She also said you will become engorged- I know I don't have much experience in this matter, ok none, but please know that as many women DON'T become engorged as those that do. Your milk may come in slowly, and it is fine. I will just keeping taking in that liquid gold for the first 5-10 days. I will be ok.

I remember Aunt Jen saying to you how her child lost too much weight, so she had to supplement. Mommy- I will lose weight- After all, I am going from 24 hour nourishment, and lots of liquid being sent my way, to eating on demand, learning to eat, and so much more. Even if I lose a few ounces over the "acceptable" amount, please understand, I may not really need any new nourishment. Beware of those who push you to supplement due to reasons such as jaundice, weight, milk not in by a certain day, and crying.

Mom- I may lose weight, I may get colic, I might have times when I want to nurse all day, and other days where I hardly nurse at all. I might have a few bumps in the road, but we will get through this together.

Still, don't feel you have to go this alone. Please mom, educate yourself. Have information for possible hurdles we might come by ( Have some help lined up so that we can camp out on the couch while you feed me.

Please, though, Mama, don't doubt yourself, or your decision. This is the best first gift you can give me, and it is a gift that keeps on giving. Don't worry about 12 months, 18 months, or when you will wean at this time, just focus on the now, and take it day by day, Heck- I will be doing the same thing. This is new to both of us, but I will keep trying if you will too.

Your Baby

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