Thursday, April 14, 2011

Living Simply ~ A Post on Breastfeeding

Talking openly about breastfeeding is no longer a taboo topic, but it is still a topic of debate. Some argue that "breast is best" and others argue that "science has come so far and that formula is almost as good." You can guess which side I am on...

You're right! Breast is Best!
Breastfeeding has so many benefits, one of which is cost. It is free. Infanct formula is expensive. I am not saying this because I am a breastfeeding fanatic, but rather out of experience. My firstborn had a rough start. I was in a foreign country with no family or breastfeeding friends, could barely speak the language and put too much faith in my midwife. She was a busy lady. She gave my husband and I some bad advice and got us off to a rough start. I tried breastfeeding, I really did. I needed help, but no one was there. I couldn't just call up my mom or my grandmother. I wasn't breastfed and neither was my mother. A friend told me to call LLL (La Leche League), but I barely spoke German (I was living in Germany at the time).

I caved after my baby got really bad jaundice and became really lethargic. I wept all the way to the drugstore, which was conveniently located within walking distance and stood in the formula aisle debating. I wasn't debating should I or shouldn't I. No, I was really labels to the best of my ability and trying to make the second best decision I could make. Which of these formulas would be almost as good as my milk? I chose one, bought a few bottles and wept all the way home.

Needless to say, my baby didn't thrive right away. He had reactions to every formula we tried. I ended up buying the really expensive hypo-allergenic kind. He tolerated this fairly well, but little did I know how many times that he would get some kind of gastrointestinal infection. Could this all have been different? I still regret not having tried harder or longer.

While pregnant with my second, I sought out the care of a midwife who was going to be really supportive when it came to breastfeeding. I think I prepared myself more for the breastfeeding than for the birth or homecoming. I wasn't going to fail AGAIN. That is exactly how I felt, like a failure. The message "Breast is Best" haunted my very being. Wasn't breastfeeding something that God intented us mothers to do? Why would we lactacte if we weren't meant to breastfeed?

Needless to say, I breastfed baby number two for a year. She weaned herself at exactly one year. Breastfeeding began with a struggle. I guess it wasn't meant to come easy to me. I learnt a lot about patience and perserverance. I am not the type of person that gives up easily. Baby number three was breastfed, too. Again, I had a rough start, but knew this can be normal. It can typically take six to eight weeks for mother and baby to become a winning breastfeeding team. I read every book I could get my hands on with regards to breastfeeding.
This is a picutre of baby number three being breastfed. He thrived and was a happy baby. He too weaned himself at exactly one year.

Baby number four threw me for another loop. He was exclusively breastfed from day one. He was born in the comfort of our own home and was given the best start possible. We was a whopping 9lbs 13oz.
Within days he lost a lot of weight. Within a few weeks, he lost a lot more. This is a picture of us last Easter at seven weeks old. His lowest recorded weight was 8lbs 6oz.
We struggled a lot. We used a several feeding devices, supplemented, visited a lactation consultant etc. We cried, I cried a lot. This was not what I was expecting. I breastfed two babies successfully, but this was not easy. I was determined to keep breastfeeding. I had a lot of support. Friends listened, sympathized, gave advice and listened. I was amazed by the amount of compassion and support. One friend in Germany sent us an unexpected package which included a water bottle full of holy water from the Cologne Cathedral. A friend from Ontario sent me the book, "Breastfeeding and Catholic Motherhood" by Sheila M. Kippley. These two gifts gave me hope. Shortly after Easter of last year we found out that our baby is intollerant of all grains and that was causing his weightloss. This is him now...
On our quest to live simply and holy lives, we realize that breastfeeding is an important aspect of Catholic living. Did you know that Blessed Pope John Paul II said that nursing mothers are "truly heroic?" Did you know that there is information on breastfeeding and Catholic living? I didn't. I would like to share some links with you on breastfeeding. Some of these have helped me tremendously.

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing
Dr. Jack Newman website

If you have anything you would like to add or share, I am here to listen. God Bless.

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