Tell me about your breastfeeding time.
I work as a labor and delivery nurse. From my experience, I feel like new moms will do better and they would breastfeed for longer if they had proper information and if they had somebody to help them at the hospital or birth centers. I feel that so many women, when they leave the hospital, feel like nobody educated them well enough. Breastfeeding is hard at first! It’s very hard, and it’s very time-consuming. Most moms have nipple soreness and feelings that breastfeeding their baby will never end, especially when their kid wants to nurse every hour or every two hours.
When I started to breastfeed my son, I felt like all I was doing was breastfeeding, and I felt that I didn’t have time for anything else. But, let me tell you, there is something special here. I remember with my son Henry my big “aha” moment which made my breastfeeding so much better. I always tell other new mothers at the hospital, who are nursing for the first time – wait till your baby starts to smile back at you. When Henry was about 6 weeks old, I came home, and I sat down to feed him, and he just looked at me with his big eyes and gave me this big toothless smile while he was nursing, and it just melted my heart, and made it all worth it. At first I felt like I was just giving and giving and I didn’t even feel I get anything back in return, before that smile.
Where are you from?
This is the house my husband grew up in. I am from West Bend, WI, originally.
Do you work?
I work as labor and postpartum nurse 12-hour night shift, 2-3 days a week. I assist many new moms with breastfeeding.
What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding for me is that one thing that I can provide for my child that nobody else can. Also it’s calming for me and it is calming for my baby too. There is so much in this world I can’t control and I can’t protect him from everything, but at least, with breastfeeding, I can give my baby antibodies and I can help to protect his immune system. Breast milk has hundreds of ingredients. My body can give my son extra proteins and vitamins and all that stuff he needs to grow to get healthy. Also since it’s the cold flu season here in Wisconsin, antibodies of the breast milk will give my baby extra protection and prevent him from getting sick. When our family got sick around here with stuffy noses and the flu – Henry had almost nothing compared to what we had. Also, I believe, breastfeeding gives a child extra confidence and security.
What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?
I don’t know. Initially, the challenge was just to figure a schedule when I was back to 12-hour night shift work. But my hardest thing with him right now is distraction during breastfeeding time. Now, my son gets distracted because he is growing and starting to explore the world and people around him. He wants to see everything that is going on and he becomes so nosey. If a person comes to talk to me, and Henry hears the voice, he rips himself off from nursing to look and see what is going on. But he doesn’t do it not very nicely. It’s a challenge to maintain Henry’s attention sometimes, because, at that point, he is not done eating. He was just distracted, and he is still hungry.
Who has offered you support in your journey?
My mom breastfed both of us, me and my brother, at least until we were 9 months old. It’s nice having her support. My grandparents give me support, too. Even though my grandma wasn’t able to breastfeed for a long time, she is always very supportive. One of my cousins is a lactation consultant and it’s really nice having her to answer questions. When I see other people in my family breastfeeding, I feel like it gives me a little bit extra boost and confidence. Back at the time, when Henry was very fussy, I was wondering if he is getting enough breast milk and I was worried about that stuff. When you feed baby with the bottle you can see how much he/she gets. One time Henry was super fussy and I took him to the doctor. The doctor weighted him and said that he was gaining weight properly, which meant he was getting enough of my milk. When I called my mom to ask her why is he super fussy, and she was like: “Oh, I just thought it is how babies were…super fussy!” So it’s so good to have that support from family members. I know it’s hard for people who do not have family members who breastfed because sometimes some people in the family can be very pushy towards formulas.
Also, at work, in the labor and delivery department, our lactation consultants have been very helpful.
Any advice for moms who want to breastfeed?
- Use your resources. If you have friends or family who breastfed, or when you’re still in the hospital, ask a lot of questions! Be prepared. Look up stuff and get information before your baby is born. Expect in the beginning to have at least some sort of soreness even if your baby has a great latch, there is going to be at least a little bit of soreness.
- About pacifiers: If the baby is nursing really well and latching on really well, the pacifier is ok. But, if the baby isn’t nursing well, isn’t latching well and he doesn’t have a good suck, avoid the pacifier till he can figure out the right way to feed.
- Try wearing a baby carrier. At first, Henry nursed every two to three hours and for sometimes he went for 20 -30 minutes. Other times he would go for 45 minutes. It felt like I was always breastfeeding. When I realized that breastfeeding was taking a lot of time, I started to wear a baby carrier and I put him in that so I could nurse him while walking around and do stuff while nursing because otherwise I felt like all I was doing feeding him. And I managed to do a lot while holding him and carrying him around in that baby carrier. Henry is only going to be this little just so long and this phase of my life with him is not going to last forever. So what has to get done has to get done.
Why do you think nature designed breastfeeding?
Essentially, I think that nature designed breastfeeding to care for your child. Back in the day they didn’t have formula to feed the baby. So they breastfed their babies, or if they couldn’t breastfeed, people had wet nurses to feed the baby. The body is designed to provide the baby his nutrients what he/she needs throughout the first couple years of his/her lives, and mothers didn’t use to feed their babies solid food until they were older. In some countries mothers still don’t feed their babies solid food until they’re older. In the United States, I feel like there is so much social stigma related to breastfeeding and people don’t want to breastfeed in public because they think it’s a bad thing or they are going to be judged. But, in other countries, people breastfeed until their kids are three, four years old sometimes.
I nurse Henry in public all the time. However, he is covered and I feel like if he is covered and I am there, I don’t want to give him a bottle. Usually, I am nursing him while he is in my carrier, walking around the store and nobody knows that I am nursing him. People think he is sleeping and they don’t know the difference and they don’t need to. I don’t feel like breastfeeding in public places should have a stigma. Kids have got to eat whether they eat from the bottle or breastfeed – kids still have got to eat.