Breasts: What Can I Tell Ya, They Need Support

August 28th, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

By Katie Godbout, Omaha mother of two

Katie PicJudging by the title of this post, you might think that I am going to write about bras, bra fittings and proper breast support. Well, I am going to talk about breast support, but not in such a tangible way.

I’ve breastfed two kids – two very different kids – each of them for over a year and a half.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I knew I was going to give breastfeeding a good, solid try. I was dead set on being able to nurse my son within the first hour of his birth. I had read a library of new parenting books, blog articles, boards, emails, pamphlets, and more. I was ready for this… or so I thought.

When my first son arrived, I was relieved and elated that I was able to nurse him within the hour after his delivery – even though I had a c-section! While I was still in recovery, the nurses and my husband helped to prop up my little one right next to my face. When I asked when I would be able to breastfeed him, the nurse said, “You can nurse him right now. All of the labor and delivery staff and nurses are trained in breastfeeding support.”

Wow. Talk about helpful. I couldn’t even move from the chest down, but I could nurse. I’ll tell you, as “natural” as it is to breastfeed our own children, it does not come “naturally” to moms. You have to hold your boob a certain way – squish it like a “C”. You have to make sure your baby has his (or her) mouth properly latched on. It sounds easy enough, but trust me, it’s not.

My son always had his hands in his face, so I basically needed four hands to feed him – one to hold his head, one to hold my boob, and two to hold his hands down. Luckily, when I desperately said, “Hands, HANDS!” my husband (or mother, or mother-in-law, or best friend) would hold on to my baby’s hands so that I could get him latched on. This was embarrassing at first because I was not used to so many people being in close proximity to my naked breasts, but it needed to be done. Soon enough, my son learned to keep his hands out of the way.

Over the weeks, months, and years that I was breastfeeding, it got much easier. I no longer had to hold my breast in the squished “C,” I could just lean my son up near my breast and he would do the work. I could even sleep in a loose-fitting shirt next to him, and he’d find his way over if he was hungry or needed comfort.Boys

After reading the plethora of material that I did, I trusted the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend exclusively breastfeeding for about six months and continuing until at least one year. One year was my goal. It was hard at times. I had to spend every 2-3 hours pumping at work. If I had meetings out of the office, I would oftentimes pump one side while driving to the meeting and the other side coming back. I worried about making enough milk to get through the next day. I woke up at night to pump in the middle of the night, if necessary. I visited my sons at daycare over lunch to nurse. I exchanged almost all of my personal time to nourish my sons. But I would never call it a sacrifice. It was what I believe was best for my boys.

My first son nursed for comfort. We called him a boob monger. He could post up on a boob for and hour or more at a time. If he got hurt, he wanted to nurse. If he got scared, he wanted to nurse. I nursed him to sleep for every nap and every night that I was with him. It was fine by me.

When I got pregnant with my second son, I continued to nurse my first-born. I actually have a picture of my oldest nursing while his brother was stretching out my belly (I was seven months pregnant). I thought it was cute because they were “cuddling.”

I started to wean my older son when he was 19 months old. He was naturally down to once or twice a day at that time, and I was not interested in nursing two people at the same time. So when he’d ask for “mimi,” that was his word when he wanted to nurse, I would ask him if he wanted a snack. If he did, I would get him one. If he didn’t, I would nurse him. I did the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method until he was completely done. This gave me about a two-month break before I had a hungry newborn again.

I’ve got to tell you, the second time around is MUCH easier. It was no big deal. Really. I got my second son to latch on with no issues. My older boy only asked to nurse a handful of times (I let him twice) after his brother was born. I always had plenty of milk and stockpiled the freezer. My second son did not have the same opportunity for long, lazy nursing sessions. Raising a toddler and a nBoys 2ewborn has its challenges, and having time to sit still is one of them, but the rest is history.

I have to say, I wouldn’t have made it nearly 3.5 years breastfeeding two boys without the support of a lot of people, starting at the hospital. Here’s a short list: my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, my best friend, my circle of moms, my employer, the hospital’s labor and delivery staff, the lactation consultant, my father, brother and his family, father-in-law, brother-in-law and his family, and dozens of strangers who would smile, nod, or talk to me when I was nursing in public. Women who became mothers long ago would share stories with me. Flight attendants on airlines would give me a wink when they saw me nursing my baby – they knew he’d travel quietly; a boob is the best pacifier. Co-workers would swap stories, provide recommendations, or simply allow me to have privacy. Ok, so my list is not so short. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I guess that village is pretty helpful when it comes to breastfeeding too.

All in all, I personally think that every mom should give breastfeeding a try. I mean, just try it. If it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal. I assure you, you will have some challenges, but for me, they were easy enough to overcome. I would encourage new moms to set a minimum time limit on trying to breastfeed, whether it’s three days, six weeks, six months, or a year and beyond. You never know, it might just be some of the best and sweetest moments with your baby. It was for me.

Katie is a guest blogger of a series of blogs Live Well Omaha Kids is sharing in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. You can read more on the facts about breastfeeding, The Sacred Hour and skin to skin at www.reallyreally.org.

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