Saturday, August 6, 2011

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Day

Today is World Breastfeeding Day, and as of 10 a.m. today, we are celebrating it in much the same way that we celebrated last year: with Emmett spending copious amounts of time on the Boppy, and with me trying to type and do other things with just one hand while he nurses.

Of course, a year ago Emmett didn't do much at all other than eat and sleep. These days, he can do all kinds of other things (including partial headstands while nursing!) and he eats an increasing variety of non-liquid foods. However, nursing is still a big part of our lives, especially during a week like this one where he has been a bit under the weather. Before he was born, my goal was to nurse him for at least a year if possible. When I returned to work and had pumping issues, I revised that to "at least six months" and doubted that we would even manage that, but we worked through the issues and here we are, still nursing after his first birthday. With the exception of times when I get woken up for a third or fourth time in the night, I enjoy the closeness. (And even then I enjoy it if the boy manages to catch a bit more sleep.)

Of course, it's not always been easy. I seem slightly prone to getting blocked ducts, which can be really painful. The best remedy for this affliction is to keep nursing but it's hard to nurse when you're in pain. Early on, we dealt with several bouts of thrush, including one bout right when I'd been planning to do some serious work towards a pumped milk stash for my return to work. While I was OK with gritting my teeth through nursing with thrush, I did not want to pump while that was going on.

I was surprised to find that the emergence of teeth didn't necessarily mean that the end of breastfeeding was near. Babies don't necessarily use their teeth in the nursing process. I did get bitten a few times here and there, but it was usually during a Rather Bitey Phase where I'd also find my shoulder getting bitten.

Around this time last year, I remember sometimes feeling a bit stressed out over whether the boy was nursing too much, and I wish I had just relaxed about that whole issue. It was very hard for me to believe the idea that the baby knew what he needed. I also was very reluctant to nurse in public at first. After I prepared myself with a short list of snappy comebacks, I felt better about public nursing and I now think that it's something that should be considered as normal as drinking a Diet Coke in public.

I am lucky to have had a lot of support for breastfeeding. A nurse in the recovery room at UNC hospitals helped me make sure that Emmett had a good latch from the start, and that made a huge difference. Friends and family have been great as well. If someone in your family is nursing, be sure to continually offer to bring that person food and drink. Nursing can make you ravenous. I sometimes feel like I've subjected friends and coworkers to far too many conversations about breastfeeding, but I tend to joke that it's like conversations about working out when you're doing a major training program--when you spend so much time doing something, it's hard not for it to creep into your conversations.

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