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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

feeding #2 - doing it my way this time

Baby #2 is on the way!
We are busy at home preparing for baby - diapers and wipes are bought, the bassinet is in our room, newborn clothes are washed and folded, diaper bag is packed, swing is in the living room, hospital bag is ready to go, and car seat is in the car.

With all of these preparations around here you'd say we are all set for baby. Yet there was one more area that really needed some planning and considering in order to be really ready for baby to come. For me, that big thing was what and how to feed my second child. As I've written about in another blog post, my experience with trying to nurse my first child was a disaster. He was tongue tied, a large baby (9 lbs 3 oz!) so was starving, and I had a C-section, which made my milk come in later. I struggled with guilt and pressures from lactation consultants and family and friends to strictly nurse. It was difficult for me to supplement with formula at first. Then I started pumping... and the rest was history. I pumped for 12 months! It worked for us. Nursing did not.

Because of what we went through (which you can read more in my blog post, "Breastfeeding mishap turned pumping miracle" from March 2012), I have changed my mind dramatically about how I intend to feed baby #2.

My Feeding Philosophy
My philosophy before my first child was born was that I intended to nurse and that was it. I didn't know anything else, which is strange because I was a formula-fed baby, so were my siblings, and several friends' babies. But I was told nursing was best, so that was what I was going to do. I read about 6 books on the topic. I bought breast pads. I registered for pumping parts, breastmilk storage bags, and Lansinoh cream. I took a Breastfeeding 101 class with my husband so he'd even be clued in to what I was doing. It was going to work great. There were no concerns or worries in my mind that it would not work. I figured it'd be hard, but doable.

Then life happened. Reality set in. My son could not latch on, physically it was not happening for him. So I learned pretty quickly - by day 4 - that my ultimate responsibility was to feed my child, and that it did not matter anymore WHAT I fed him or HOW I fed him.

Because of what I experienced last time I've changed my tune dramatically with preparing how to feed this second baby. And while I was sad, felt defeated and guilty having to supplement with formula, only pumping and using bottles, and having to give up my ideal of breastfeeding with my first child, now I don't feel that way. Now going into this a second time, I feel empowered, confident and entirely stronger. I'm ready to take on whoever tries to make me feel guilty about how I feed my child! I feel like this time I can be in control, in the driver's seat.

So what's my new plan? It's simple and it's complicated - isn't that the way having a newborn should be anyway?!
My husband and I have already talked about our new plan, because part of what was so challenging the last time around was that we were on different planets when it came to feeding our son. I was the emotional, hormonal, feeling side of imagining nursing working. He was the realistic, proof, factual side saying our son just needs food, didn't matter what or how. Now, we are on the same page, and I think it's going to make a world of difference.

The New Plan
I am going into the hospital this time with the plan to breastfeed my baby right away like I did with my last child. I intend to do lots of skin-to-skin contact to bond and let the baby really know who I am. I intend to try nursing from the start. However, nursing is not going to be my main mode of feeding my child. In fact, the only real reason I intend to try nursing this time is for the bonding that I think is so important that first week with a newborn. I want my baby as close as possible to me like it has been for the last 9 months of pregnancy.

My plan for actually feeding my child is slightly different. Because I know my milk won't come in for at least 5 days after the surgery, I know there won't be much milk to provide to my child via the breast in the hospital. So, I intend to start pumping on the second day in the hospital. Whatever milk I come up with we'll feed to my baby from a bottle.

If I do not produce enough milk in those first few days by pumping, I'll feed my child my milk first, then get out a bottle of formula to supplement. We will continue this pattern until I'm strictly pumping enough milk, which for my first child happened when he was about 6 weeks old or so.

Changing My Tune
I intend to use bottles. I plan to nurse for the sake of bonding, not the sake of feeding. How long will I try nursing? Honestly, I don't want to nurse as the main way of feeding, something I never thought I'd say! So I really don't know. Let's just say this baby latches perfectly and milk comes in and everything is perfect - I still don't anticipate myself being a full-time nursing mom. After my experience and how it opened my eyes to some of the downfalls of nursing, I've completely changed my mind about it - FOR ME. That is not to say I don't agree with nursing. Of course I do. It's great, definitely. But I'm beyond that. I'm beyond the pressures and expectations.

I'm all about doing what is right for me, the baby, and my family of 4 this time around. Because I realize it all affects everything else. And I don't just have me, husband and baby to consider - I also have a toddler to consider in how this all affects him. With my first child we had to stay an extra day in the hospital because he had not gained enough weight to go home, yet I was discharged. It was awful. Having that first child at home this time while I am in the hospital with #2 makes me want to do all I can to feed baby #2 well enough in the hospital to get home ASAP to my son. Having him has also changed how I feel about feeding the second one, because of course my first child is part of this family and all that we do affects him, too.

Because I could not nurse, I now have a very different view on how it all works.
I have noticed many things that are different for the average breastfed baby versus bottle-fed baby. I don't think I'd be comfortable nursing in front of people. I see that nursing babies take at least twice as long as pumping and bottle-feeding takes. Having a toddler around means I don't want to be tied up for an hour at a time, every other hour. Recovering from a C-section is really hard work, which means I need my child to sleep, which my first did and I credit a lot of that to getting a certain amount of breastmilk from a bottle versus nursing. I liked how my husband could help with feeding our first son. I liked how it made him feel included and how my son seemed to have this very serious bond with him from the start. I want the help, and believe especially with this second child I'll need that help even more.

Mostly, I know now that it's OK however I feed my child. Everything will be fine, it's not the end of the world.

Still, I'm nervous.
I'm a little scared of those lactation people pressuring me and getting to me when I'm hormonal and perhaps not as strong as I am now. I'm worried that when I try to explain this new plan to family and friends that they will look at me strange and not get what we are doing.

At the end of the day, my husband supports me, and this is our baby, our family. If I've learned one thing about being a parent it is that you have to do what is right for your own family, not what others expect.

Re-reading this blog post has me in shock! It's sooo entirely different from where I once was two years ago before the birth of my first child. I'm really proud of myself actually. It's difficult to acknowledge your own truth and reality, and go forward in doing what works for you minus the guilt.

So this time around I've taken the free samples of Similac at the doctor's office. And when my full-time, no issues breastfeeding sister-in-law came over recently and opened that cupboard and saw formula in there I didn't even feel guilt for two seconds (not that she would make me feel guilty about it, I would have done that on my own). When people post on this blog about using formula I stand right up immediately and admit that yes, we too, supplemented with formula and it was totally fine. I have already sterilized the bottles for this second baby. I registered for breastmilk storage bags and new pump parts. I even got one of those cool nursing covers so that I can use it in the hospital and feel more comfortable nursing, as well as use it at home when I'm pumping in front of my toddler. I have ordered new pump tubing and am getting ready to sterilize all of those parts, too. As you can see, it's going to be an "all systems go" type of feeding process around here.

At the end of the day, I know my baby will be fed, by me, and that's a good feeling.

(Now if only everything will work JUST as I've described it here, we'll be good to go! Ha!)

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say congratulations on having a plan and knowing that this will work for you, I also wanted to add that maybe if this baby latches perfectly and loves nursing he/she may not want a bottle or you might enjoy this nursing experience. Just keep an open mind about nursing vs. pumping! Love from North Dakota