Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Some Thoughts on Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is a curious thing. It's unlike anything I've ever done before, and it has brought up a lot of complicated considerations.

The Good
- I love knowing that I'm providing my little girl with the nutrients she needs to grow and thrive. She's already changed so much in three short weeks, and knowing that my body is producing the stuff that's growing her into the amazing little person she is makes me feel pretty good.

- Even when I've gotten no sleep and she's crying for what seems like the hundredth time in a single night, as soon as I pick her up and she tilts her head back to look at me with those big eyes, I can't help but smile.

- She smells so good! I love cuddling up with her in the bed. 

- I have a new appreciation for my body and what I put into it. Suddenly everything I eat and drink has become so apparent to me. I think about ways to eat more nutritious food. I force myself to drink water after every feeding whether I am thirsty or not. I appreciate my body's ability to create food for my daughter, and it's made me much more aware of my responsibility to give it the tools to do so.

The Not-so-good
- Sometimes I feel like a milk machine. I know a lot of women say they feel like this when they're pumping, but I don't really mind pumping; I don't have to pay much attention to the process. I just read or watch TV until I'm done. But when I'm feeding the baby, I am tuned in. This can be nice, but sometimes her dad will be holding her and she'll be completely content, and then she'll get hungry and fussy, hear my voice, and try to wiggle over to me, but I know it's not me she's coming after, but the milk.

- I am not a good sleeper. This is a long standing problem. I've suffered from on-again, off-again insomnia since middle school. The main problem is I can't fall asleep fast. It takes me at least 20 minutes. When I have a child who insists on nursing every hour, this basically means I get no sleep. She's recently spaced out the feedings at night (though not during the day--yesterday she clusterfed for four straight hours), and I've become much more human-like by getting 4-5 hours of sleep in hour-long bouts. Before that I started to zombify.

- It's a lot of pressure! At her two-week checkup she hadn't gained back her birth weight. She was close (8lbs 12oz, she started at 9lbs), but the doctor said I might have to supplement with formula. I felt so guilty. Was she starving? I was feeding her every time that she acted hungry. Was I doing it wrong? Was I not eating enough? Was I not drinking enough? The doctor gave me the weekend to see if her weight would go up on its own; it did.

- I feel a little trapped. My husband and I agreed to equally shared parenting, but that's not really possible when I'm the only one who can feed her. I know that it will get better as she gets older, and he's been doing everything possible to help out. But none of that changes the fact that she spends the bulk of her day eating, and I'm the source. I feel like I can't leave the house because her feedings aren't really regular yet. Sometimes she'll go two or three hours in between, but sometimes she wants to eat every forty-five minutes.
I bought a bottle of Disaronno that's been sitting unopened on my kitchen counter. I haven't had a drink in a year because I stopped drinking when I started trying to conceive. I just want one drink! But I'm scared to have it because I'm afraid that'll be one of the times she won't wait two hours.

I'm going to offer her a bottle of expressed milk sometime in the next week so that I can make sure she takes it before I go back to work in three weeks. I'm hoping that will help take some of the pressure off. Overall, though, it's a pretty amazing thing.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that things are generally going well! My little one is 6 weeks old, and I totally understand where you are coming from in this post. Especially about going out of the house. People always say how convenient it is to breastfeed because you don't have to bring bottles when you go out, and for the most part I agree, but Gus isn't on too regular a schedule yet, either, and always seems to get hungry just as we get on the bus to go home. I don't want to try and feed him on the 10 minute ride, but I do hate making him wait!