Breastfeeding; Any Parent’s Proud Accomplishment

marinel breastfeeding

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Zaymarí, I couldn’t help to feel overwhelmed but excited at the same time because it meant I can set goals as a parent, for example: having a natural vaginal birth, breastfeed for at least a year, becoming more organized with the baby’s things, among many others. Having my first baby meant that my life was going to change and for the better. It was my opportunity to raise one of my own and make decisions that for the first time didn’t require MY parent’s permission. And so, I did it! I had a natural vaginal birth at age 19, giving birth to a 8 lb 10oz baby. Amazed until this day that I did it which was in no way easy but it was something my heart desired to experience and with the help of my family members in the room, my husband, my wonderful midwife, and the nurses, I was able to do so. But that was only the beginning…

I would have to say that thus far, my greatest accomplishment as a parent is having breastfed my daughter for 11 months exclusively and a year and half of weaning. The peer pressure I had to supplement was one of the biggest challenges I had to face while breastfeeding; Coming from a family that believes that a baby only cries because she/he did not have a satisfying feed. But guess what… I taught both them and myself a lesson. I helped them understand that a breastfeeding is normal, takes time, patience, and I was perfectly able to nourish my daughter without the help of formula. And taught myself to never give up and to listen to my heart and my desires as an individual and in this case, parent. I cried many times because I began to believe I couldn’t do it when my daughter wanted to nurse two times in an hour, when she had nights in which she couldn’t sleep and the only thing that comforted her was nursing or when my breast felt so empty at times and I had a crying baby to feed. I didn’t have a CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) to call or someone with experience to help me and support me in that way… I had to find the courage and strength from within and I became my own CLC (no pun intended since now I am one lol).  I am grateful for those that did support and respected my decision like my husband and my mom did; they were a great part of my motivation to keep going. Now, everyone’s proud of me and they talk about it all the time how I was able to breastfeed for so long. My cousins look at me as an example of resiliencE and perseverance and now I am able to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.

Dads Can’t Breastfeed!

I know a lot of guys that cringe at even the sound of that.  They just don’t know how to help, don’t know anything about it, or just plain and simple don’t want anything to do with it.  They picture their beautiful wives and girlfriends, turned into monsters by lack of sleep and hormones!  I think what some guys fail to realize is the importance that breastfeeding can have in your child’s life.

First, if you’re going to be a father, there’s a couple things we can all agree you need to take care of:

  1. The kid(s).  Obviously, this is the most important part, kids benefit hugely from a having a father in their lives, and I’m sure we’ll get into that in another blog post.
  2. The relationship.  Whether you’re with the mom, separated, adoptive parents, or any form of parenting; chances are you have someone else helping you out.  This post is mostly for those of you in a more traditional setting, when mom + dad + kid = a lot of questions.
  3. All the other stuff.  I’m talking financial stuff, work stuff, extended family stuff, all sorts of good ‘stuff.’  This stuff, in my opinion, should typically take a back seat to your kids, but that’s a debate for another time.

So, your wife/girlfriend/baby mama says:  “I want to breastfeed.”

What do you do?

Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll know how to help a bit.  But first, let’s cross a few things off.  Assuming you’re the father in the traditional sense, you can’t breastfeed your kid.  Period.  Your body just won’t do it.  So the only thing left is to help, and I think we need to keep in mind the most important thing of fatherhood we agreed on above, the kiddo.

A lot of this is common sense, but here’s a few things for dads to try if they want to take an active role in breastfeeding:

  • Be supportive.  She needs a cheerleader.  Be there for her, you need to make sure she knows she’s doing an awesome job and that she has you in her corner.
  • Be thoughtful.  This one goes a step further, don’t just tell her you support breastfeeding, but actively try to help out.  See if she needs a glass of water, pick up a new book or magazine on your way home, or something else that will help her out.
  • Be willing to get up in the middle of the night.  For the first couple of weeks (at least) that baby is going to want to eat every few hours in the middle of the night.  Don’t always make her get up.  Take the nightshift sometimes, go get the kiddo, bring them over and hand off to mom.  Trust me, if mom doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night every time, it’s easier on everyone the next morning (especially you!)
  • Be a multi-tasker.  If she’s getting up in the middle of the night, get up and make breakfast, or maybe run the errands in the morning.  Any little extra thing you do will help immensely.  An ounce of effort will probably feel like a ton of help to her, and that’s good for the whole family in the long run.

Remember to try and be a team whenever you can.  It’s best for the kid and definitely best for the two of you in the long run.  Despite all of its benefits, breastfeeding isn’t easy, but helpful dads can make it a lot better.  Hopefully some of the things in this post help you to help her!

The Breast and The Bottle

baby bottlebreastfeed_2a

I knew as soon as I found out that I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son. I went and did as much research as I could. WIC provided some great resources and my midwife gave me a lot of suport. Some of my family was very supportive and some just told me not to get my hopes up- that it’s very difficult. For me I paid them no mind honestly, I knew what I wanted to do.

However, skipping ahead to my labor and birth; nothing went as planned. I ended up having a c-section. My son was born with low blood sugar so had to be taken to the NICU. I gave birth to my son at 6:55am and did not hold him till 3:30 that afternoon. He was given a bottle and a pacifier, and no one told me that I should have pumped. I was nervous and very upset that I would not be able to breastfeed my son. In the hospital I would breastfeed him then give him a bottle then I would go and pump. The process took awhile, it was a lot of work; I honestly didn’t know how long I could keep up with it.

I did this continuously for about two weeks before my milk supply was enough for him. I was so excited to be able to just feed him off of my breasts. I experienced my first cluster feed with only feeding him off of my breast. It was pretty scary at first I felt like I didn’t have enough milk, and it felt like all I was doing was feeding him. I mean sleep? I barley experienced that in my first two months with my son. But cluster feeding is a topic for another day.

I ended up getting mastitis, an infection of the breast, when my son was almost two months old. This infection was horrible; flu like symptoms, 104 fever, and having to take care of my son on top of that. I remember there was a point at where I made a bed on the floor and put the heater on my back, because I had the chills that bad and breastfed him like that. As a result of this infection I lost my milk supply. I was back to square one. I was so discouraged. I was so upset. A part of me felt like I was failing my son. I did everything to get my milk supply back up, but I am still only making 3-4oz for him when he needs 5-6oz per feeding. So as of now I am breastfeeding and bottle feeding my son. At first I was self-conscious to feed my son a bottle after I breastfed him. Other times I was self-conscious to breastfeed him. I was worried about what people thought, was worried that they would judge me for the way I choose to feed my son. It’s something…getting nervous about what other people think about how I feed my son.

My son has always gotten excited when it is time to breastfeed, but now I see him get excited when I make a bottle. So what is my son truly excited about? That he is being fed, that I am taking care of him and nourishing him. I think as women there is so much judgment about breast or bottle, bottle or breast. Whatever choice you make; breast or bottle (or both) your baby will be thankful.   However, I feel as women, we need to encourage and support each other no matter how we feed our baby. We do not know everyone’s story of why they choose to feed their baby the way they do. So as women lets empower each other.

Breastfeeding is Empowering!

I breastfed my daughter for a year and six months (maybe a little more). I do not remember exactly when I stopped breastfeeding, even though it was a huge moment in both Lily’s life and mine. I tried to stop breastfeeding as soon as she became 11 months but breastfeeding was heaven for me. I gained an amazing connection with my daughter that I will forever be thankful for. I believe that our bond became stronger because my daughter felt safe, happy, and comfortable through this experience. After lily shots or when she was sick I would breastfeed her and that would calm her down in seconds. I never had to struggle to put my daughter to sleep as soon as she was on the breast she would drift away. My daughter and I were in our own bubble when I was breastfeeding her.

My daughter’s health is great and I believe breastfeeding was the cause of this. It is rare for my daughter to get sick; she does not get as sick as other children in the winter. So I am thrilled that she does not have health issues.

Breastfeeding was comforting to my daughter. I know that when I breastfeed lily she was more relaxed and happy. Everyone in my life supported my decision for breastfeeding. I would have my mother Spanish remedies to increasing my milk supply. I think that having this support made a difference in the connection that I had with my daughter. Having people cheer you on about breastfeeding is great and makes you want to continue and make the experience last a little bit longer.

I weighed 150 lbs. when I gave birth. After I stopped breastfeeding I weighed 98. Losing this weight was bittersweet. It was bad because I wanted to gain more weight after birth, but the good thing is that my body looked great afterwards. I could not believe that breastfeeding could cause such a weight change.

I stopped breastfeeding because I was becoming too skinny, my daughter used my boobs for comfort, and my schedule did not work with breastfeeding. My daughter would want to stay on the breast all day. She would pull my shirt and position herself for it, would play and watch TV while still being on the breast. It was weird to have her do this. But even with those negatives I wanted to continue breastfeeding.

It was empowering. I felt like any other mother out there. I did not feel just like a young mother, I felt like a powerful mom. Breastfeeding makes you feel powerful. That’s what I loved about it. I feel that my body was made to nurture a child. If I could go back in time, I would do it all over again to gain those emotions and awesome breastfeeding moments.

Tips on breastfeeding:

  • Always have that medical soothing for sore breast. It helps to apply it when the breast hurts. Helping to prevent sore breast.
  • Drink lots of fluid throughout the day. The more you drink the more your breast supply.
  • Remember what you eat and drink will influence what your child eats and drinks
  • Wear clothing that is easy to pull your breast out easily.
  • Turtle necks are a hassle when trying to breast feed
  • Breastfeeding bra are great but not necessarily needed.
  • Do not through away all your old bras, you may actually go back to the same cup.

Leave a comment below with your questions and tips!

Breastfeeding Helped Me Too

IMG_9850 (1)Since the moment I decided to continue with my pregnancy with my son, Christian I knew that I wanted to breast feed. I liked the idea of being able to transfer my immunity to my small baby who would otherwise be exposed to so many illnesses. I also was very worried that if I didn’t breastfeed, I would have to spend a lot of money on formula and I just didn’t want to deal with the extra  headache of struggling to buy formula.

Around my third trimester I was 100% sure that I wanted to breastfeed until my son was 6 months even though I heard that breastfeeding would make my “boobs sag.” To me that wasn’t an issue. After I gave birth I told my nurse that I wanted to breastfeed and if she could teach me. The first time was really painful because my nipples hurt a lot  all while my uterus was contracting. I had a really hard time getting my son to latch on but every time it was feeding time I would attempt to latch him on first and if I couldn’t I would call the nurse and tell her to help me out. Thanks to her I learned a lot tricks that helped me out when I was struggling to get him to latch on.

Because I had some complications after giving birth I stayed in the hospital for 4 days and by the third day I was breastfeeding without any help! When I went home I rented a pump for $75 per month and it came in handy every time my breasts were full. It took about 2 weeks for my nipples to get use to breastfeeding and eventually the pain went away. After those 2 weeks I found breastfeeding to be a breeze. It felt really natural and it was an awesome way for me to bound with my son. I also didn’t have to get up at 4 am and make bottles which I loved!!

I was able to get a pump from the WIC office and I ended up returning  the other pump that I was renting. All though it was a  cheaper version and made a lot of noise when I used it, it got the job done. I breastfed exactly until my son was one year old and I saved so much money because I didn’t have to buy formula.

My son only got sick once during his first year and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with ear infections or colds when he was very little. Breastfeeding  also helped me shed all the extra baby weight I gained and I was a lot lighter then before I was pregnant.

I enjoyed eating everything and I was still able to loose weight .  It was also a really great way for my son and I to bound and I honestly wish I was still breastfeeding my almost 2 year old! Now that my son has been of the breast for 7 months my breasts still are in good shape! I think a lot of people think their boobs  will change dramatically if they breastfeed but mine didn’t change too much. They are a little different but the benefits outweigh  the small change my breast went through. I’m glad I was able to protect my son for a lot of illnesses his first year and that I was able to benefit from it and loose so much weight!