The mantra of breastfeeding, right?
***OK, this post is about breastfeeding and is meant to be encouraging to those considering giving up. It is not in any way shape or form a judgment on anyone who has chosen not to breastfeed or has chosen to stop. How you feed your child is a personal decision, and is entirely yours. You will never hear me talking shite about another mother because she chose a different option for feeding her child.***
That said… breastfeeding was the best choice for me and my son, and while we have had some bumps along the way, it is working out well for us. It occurred to me the other day that seven months into this thing, it is truly easy. Something I thought would never, ever, happen. Why?
Well, for starters my boobs are not ideal for nursing. Oh, they’re ideal for making milk, and they’re great for storing milk. They probably store 4oz apiece on average, 6-8oz if we go all night without nursing. Yes the milk making process has been just fine. It’s the getting milk out that has had its difficulties. See because my knockers are “thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis” big. A newborns mouth is “this” big. Yes, that can be a problem… Especially when the nipples are LITERALLY the size of small saucers (think fancy tea cup saucers). I’m not exaggerating. My areolae each have a 5 inch diameter (yeah, I measured them… actually I made G do it!). Oh, right, and the nipples are inverted. Combine these three things with the fact that babies are tiny, and there mouths are tiny and you start to get the picture. Would you like to see a picture of my boob eating my baby in those early days? You would?
Do I look like I'm haing fun? 'Cause I'm not. At all...
Back in those days EVERY SINGLE LATCH was difficult. We went days sometimes of trying to latch for 10 or 15 minutes before I gave up and gave him a pumped bottle. I was convinced the only thing to do was to pump exclusively and give up on feeding him at the breast. I had no one in my corner telling me I was being insane and to keep at it. My husband, my mother and especially my MIL were all telling me to just give him formula and be done with it. It didn’t work out, no shame in giving up, I tried. Were I a less… hmmm… stubborn (yeah, let’s go with stubborn) person, I may have done it. But, I am stubborn and I was DEAD F’ing SET on my son getting my milk “as long as my body continued to make it” so I pumped, and pumped and tried to get him to latch.
About 5 weeks in, nowhere near easy, but getting better. I look happy in the pic, but I had honestly just been crying about having to change positions five times to get him where he could reach the boob and get on without suffocating.
And then… latching became easier. There were less bottles in a day. Latching went from 10 minutes to 5 to 1. And within a few weeks he was mostly at breast and getting very few pumped bottles. It still wasn’t easy, but it was starting to work, and I was thinking about quitting much less often. Because, yeah, I wanted to quit. Every single feeding I wanted to go get some nice, easy pre-made formula and put it in a bottle and let him drink it and hope he would sleep for more than 3 hours. Because EBF babies wake up every 2-3 hours apparently until they get solids. (Your mileage may vary.) But, I didn’t quit, and it started getting easier, but not easy.
About 8 weeks in, still at it. Almost handsfree, except the whole pulling the boob out of his nose situation. Yes, my husband took a picture EVERY time I nursed in public for the first five months. But, I won't make you look at them all.
So, what are some tricks I learned for the fat, big boobied, huge and inverted nippled breastfeeder?
- Pillows – are your friends. You need two hands to maneuver the babies head and your tit in the beginning, let the pillows lift and support the baby’s body.
- Football hold – Use it. But seriously, it is so much easier when the baby is tiny and you are huge. I would prop Mr. G on pillows next to me, c cup my boob with the opposite hand and navigate his head with the hand on the side he was eating from. So much easier than the cradle hold.
- Side lying – Another useful position for the rotund. Baby is supported by the bed and you have both hands for navigation, and suffocation prevention.
- Pump – A little before each feed or between feeds. It’s good for your supply (screw the “don’t pump for the first month” bs), and it’s even better for your flat ass nips. A few months of pumping and you may actually get proper nipples.
- Pump – Before trying to get the baby to latch if you are “engorged.” If you are leaking, you are engorged. If your boobs are tight, you are engorged. Latching to an engorged booby is little like latching onto a beach ball. Ease the pressure and help your little one out.
But, that’s all just the first couple of months, when head control and jaw strength are MIA and baby is HONGRY all the f’ing time. But for me, that was the hardest time. We started getting easy when head control started getting better. Eventually we got a routine down and I can’t nail it down exactly, but I think the last time I was so flustered I wanted to give up was around 4-5 months. I can remember thinking nursing was easier than bottles (sometimes) around the same time. Here’s some helpful things for the 3-6 month set:
- Side lying – My best friend. I started using this almost exclusively during 3-6 months. Mostly because when he was nursing he was going to sleep or waking up, and we co-sleep so it’s easier.
- Cradle – Made a comeback when head control came around.
- Modified cradle – I sit cross legged with baby in my lap turned towards me. I do the c cup and help him navigate, but he does all the work…
- Pump – Seriously, I credit my lack of supply issues with the fact that I have always pumped. I pump for 15 minutes twice a day, during the AM nap and after he goes to bed.
- Your period – Will come back in here somewhere, and you will be glad for all the pumped milk in your freezer because your cycle will screw with your supply.
- People who don’t get it – Will say “when are you going to stop” and “can’t they give you a shot to dry that up” and “he needs water/juice/formula” and “he needs variety” and “formula has more vitamins” and a whole host of other uneducated, unsupportive and generally ignorant statements. To which I generally reply “I will keep giving my baby my milk until my body stops making it, because it is what’s best for him.”
Then within the last 4-6 weeks I found myself thinking “Why would anyone choose bottles?” and I knew, it just got easy. I made it. And when you make it this far… it’s pretty easy to see yourself sticking with it until your body stops making milk. Which is my goal.