The Decision to Breastfeed

Of all the choices my husband and I had to make regarding the birth of our daughter, one discussion that never occurred was the decision to breastfeed. In fact, I wanted to! I read books, Googled the experiences of other women, and talked to good friends who had wonderful advice to offer. Needing fertility help, coupled with a last minute cesarean, increased my desire to make it work. By breastfeeding, I could shield her from bacteria and infections, and increase her chances to remain healthy in her adult life. What my body could produce naturally would save me in formula expenses. Twelve hours after her birth, I held her for the first time. A lactation specialist was present, and kind in her tone and wording. The nine-month experience wasn’t easy; however, there was something wonderful about being alone in the still of the night and having that unexplainable bond with my child. She was connected to me through smell and voice, and that private sensation of skin-to-skin. Like any pregnancy, the experience was different the second time. In the end, the journey to overcome challenges made the decision to breastfeed worth it.

In addition to books and reputable websites, discuss concerns with your doctor. While he or she may offer special tips, more than likely, attending a class will be the recommendation. Rather than waiting until the third trimester, schedule your class earlier. The information will be easier to absorb, especially if your husband or a supportive friend accompanies you. It helps to have another person recall those important details.

For many women, breastfeeding may not come naturally, and support is available from a certified lactation consultant. Through the channels of your child’s pediatrician, a consultant can answer questions, from engorged breasts to poor latches, sore and inverted nipples to feeding techniques. Especially in the first month, new moms have numerous questions. Too often the welcomed advice and assistance while in the hospital can change to a feeling of panic once home. New moms should never wait to call. Because of the sensitivity of the nipple region, it is important not to continue experiencing excessive soreness or pain. Solutions will eliminate elevated stress and increase milk supply levels.

A lactation consultant will advise moms to purchase a double pump; however, it is important to look at all the options. Patricia Martin shares, “I purchased two used electric Medela pumps on eBay. One stayed at work while the second stayed at home. I rented one from the hospital for a month, thinking it would be better pump, but found it to perform the same. Buying a used pump is fine, as long as you replace the tubing.” For those moms who are able to freeze breast milk in either tubes or storage bags, the availability of expressed milk accommodates most situations, especially emergencies. Working moms should begin freezing milk one to two weeks before returning to work. While frozen milk has the ability to last six months to a year, thawed milk should be used within 24 hours. Patricia goes on to say, “I froze as much as I could. It was handy for my child’s cereal, spontaneous travel outings, and when I didn’t pump my quota for daycare. If I had a long meeting at work or didn’t drink enough water, sometimes my production was lower.”

There is good news and bad news when it comes to sickness. Fortunately, a mother’s antibodies are already fighting against the “bug” and will be passed along to the baby; therefore, it is a safe practice to continue breastfeeding. While everyone in the house may become sick, baby will likely be the only one to remain healthy. Unfortunately, only a few medications are safe for baby and maintaining a mom’s milk quantity. Drug manufacturers constantly alter their main ingredient; so, it is indeed a wise practice to consult your doctor prior to taking an over-the-counter drug. Hydration and rest are continually beneficial, especially when you are sick.
Pregnant women have a unique opportunity with the birth of their second child. All the fears and frustrations are now replaced with a more confident and knowledgeable mom. While no two experiences are the same, breastfeeding is that one time you can forget about all the other things that once were important. Enjoy the moment!

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