Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The *b* word :)

Honestly I never really got why people get so passionate about breastfeeding. Sure it is a great thing to do for your baby but
A) Doesn't everyone already know this
B) Doesn't everyone at least try to breastfeed

That is what I thought until I read how few Americans actually breastfeed. I live in a country where 91% of the women breastfeed so I really believe it is a non-issue here. Everyone knows that it is healthy and the people who don't breastfeed have a good reason for not doing so. Nursing in public is commonplace and no one bats an eye.

I never thought too much about breastfeeding before the baby came. I read a short book on it but knew I would just need people to show me if the latch was correct, etc.

I think the time involved came as a shock to me, as I just wasn't used to spending 45 minutes or even longer every hour or two feeding a baby. I didn't really have any pain, and Theodor latched on amazingly from the start. I basically just had to put him anywhere in the vicinity of my boob and he went down to business.But the first weeks it was really hard for me to always need to be the one feeding him and I had a permanent spot on the couch where I would read books and watch movies and TV series as Teddy nursed away.

Now of course 4 months later I miss that time!! I can't get Teddy to nurse for much more then 10 minutes now and he isn't interested even half as often as he used to be. He is still gaining tons but he clearly has figured out how to expedite the process. Which is a normal occurrence for babies as they get older.

I love the time spent breastfeeding him now and plan to breastfeed at least 1-2 years, although at a year I don't think I would do more then a morning and good night feed. I love breastfeeding and I think if more women had good help in the beginning and stuck with it for the hard initial first few weeks that the breastfeeding rates would go much higher. But I don't think that is the main issue which keeps American women from breastfeeding to 3/6/9/12+ months.

I think the biggest issue keeping women from breastfeeding in the States is the lack of paid maternity leave. Here in Germany we receive 1-2 years paid leave and have all the time in the world to get the hang of breastfeeding. We also never have to deal with pumping if we don't want to. Personally I hate to pump and I imagine that if I had needed to go back to work I would have switched to formula during the day because pumping is so time consuming, and I completely understand when other women make that choice. Our time is precious.

I'll end this with my number one tip for breastfeeding.
In the first weeks breastfeed your baby as long as (s)he wants and as often as (s)he wants.
That's it. It sounds easy but you would be surprised how many people will try to tell you that anything more then 15/20/insert random number here minutes isn't necessary and isn't helping that baby or you- you're just giving yourself sore breasts, and how hard it can be in the first weeks to completely give all your time over to the baby. But it really works.

Due to Theodor's jaundice, being in the hospital and my milk not coming in until day 5 Teddy lost over 10% of his starting birth weight. It was probably closer to 15%. He had been receiving an infusion so he was lazy at the breast and it just didn't look good. But he loved to nurse so I let him nurse all day and all night and within a week he had regained his birth weight and has been steadily gaining ever since, now he is at close to 18 pounds and it is crazy to me that my small (barely Bs!) have done that. That is all me.

Finally a little photo walk through my breastfeeding journey. Birth-->First Weeks-->Now

If you can do it in a gondola, you can do it anywhere ;) So for any mamas just starting out, it gets easier!


  1. Great post! In Canada we also get a much longer paid leave (up to a year), so it's probably less of an issue here as well. I am really looking forward to breastfeeding Baby G, and I appreciate the tips you gave!

  2. Great post....I agree with your post about breastfeeding mama's in the seems a little more taboo here to breastfeed in public or have to go to the bathroom to pump while at work

  3. I totally agree, and I totally agree about the first few weeks, I've seen sooo many people get messed up by trying to pump in those first few weeks or put baby on a schedule. It's harder in the short run, but it in the long run nursing baby as much as they want whenever they want is the best way to get breastfeeding going.

  4. I agree--great post and I also instinctively (though I have yet to go through it) think that unrestricted access to the breast is definitely the way to start BFing off right. Here in the States, so many doctors are just not well educated about BFing and give really bad advice (like limit the baby to 20 mins per side). Well, if supply is an issue, you shouldn't be putting limits on feeding, it will only make things worse. ::climbing off of soapbox now::

  5. What a lovely post, Ash. You're so right. Like you, once I got the hang of it I absolutely loved breastfeeding, and would record lots of TV series to watch while Teddy was nursing (which was mostly between 30 mins and an hour per session!). I also don't believe in restricting the time baby is "allowed" to BF. I think the short maternity leave/ maternity pay in the US is sad on many levels, but you hit the nail on the head with what you said about pumping - it's so arduous, people will probably switch to formula.