All images from Mary Gauvin
1. When pregnant, what was your plan for feeding your child? How did you think you would do in the hospital? How easy did you think it would be?
It was always my plan to breastfeed. I was breastfed, my brothers were breastfed, my husband was as well. My mom is also an infant nutritionist and heavily encouraged me to nurse. I thought it would be a lot easier than it actually turned out to be (in the beginning). In the hospital, I figured I might have issues with latching or my milk coming in, but knew the baby wouldn't go hungry.
2. How did you prepare for feeding your child while pregnant? Did you read any good books, check out Web sites, take classes, take free items from your doctor's office, talk to other moms, etc.? How prepared did you feel going into the hospital for feeding your child?
I attended the hospital breastfeeding class. I didn't learn much - it was about the anatomy of the breast (milk glands, etc), what to eat, all that. I do believe I had an advantage having a mom who is an expert. My husband however was the only guy in the class and learned a lot. And turned red a lot. I felt pretty prepared going into the hospital. We brought the boppy, the nursing cover, and a nursing bra. Totally good to go. :-p I also started reading a book that my mom recommended that started out describing childbirth as taking off a turtleneck. I quickly put it down and have no idea where it is. Nor do I really want to wear a turtleneck anymore.
3. How did the first week of feeding go for your child? What did you try? What helped, what did not help? What challenges did you experience that first week feeding your child? How did you FEEL with feeding your child that first week?
My son was circumcised within 24 hours of his birth. I think his reaction to the medication was a little stronger than the doc anticipated. My milk came in and Robby was still pretty out of it. Not into latching. He did latch right after birth, which was awesome. But the first few days seemed so awful for me and him. I ended up pumping (an activity that I find akin to torture, I have no idea how some moms exclusively pump) and he ate from a bottle. I felt a little hopeless. I was also exhausted and hormonal... such a great time to try to figure something new out, but that's how it works, right? I did both feeding on demand as well as waking Robby up every 2.5 hours, on recommendation of my mom. It helped get both of us on a schedule, as well as remind Robby that now there was daylight AND nighttime. And nighttime is for sleeping. It's true.
4. What surprised you about how hard/easy it was to feed your child at first?
Once Robby got the hang of feeding, it was ridiculously easy. Other than the cluster feeds where he would nurse for 2 hours straight. That was less than awesome.
5. What do you wish people had told you about how hard/easy it would be to feed your child in the beginning?
I wish I had been told that it is a learning process for both mom and baby. Mom isn't always completely ready at first and neither is baby.
6. After that first week, what was your experience feeding your child? What was your routine?
After that first week, it went pretty well. I was hesitant to leave the house because I didn't want Robby to start screaming from hunger in the middle of a restaurant or a meeting, but we managed. He slept in a bassinet right next to my bed, so it was handy for feedings. My husband was super helpful, doing the diaper change before each feeding. I think I changed three or four diapers in the first two weeks. And there are a LOT of diapers in the first few weeks.
7. What tips do you have for either breastfeeding or formula feeding, or exclusively pumping or some combo in between? What specific things helped you to feed your child the first few months? (Drink more water, bring baby to you when nursing, try 2 oz of formula at first, try different bottles, etc.)
I drank a TON of water. And ate a lot of fruit, leafy veggies, and protein.
Don't be afraid to eat more if you are hungry. If you are breastfeeding, it's not the time to worry about loosing weight - it will go away eventually.
8. What is your advice to moms who are experiencing pressure, expectations, judgment, or otherwise unwanted comments about how they are feeding their child?
There was a small crew of friends all having babies around the same time and I was the only one that breastfed. The other moms said they wanted their independence and not to be stuck with the baby all the time. I was frankly pretty shocked by that, but as long as the child is being fed, let's call it good. I do have a reply for such judgments now... "Oh, I didn't realize that this was your child!" It generally stops people in their tracks.
9. If you felt Mama Guilt over how you fed or did not feed your child, what was that like for you? What's your advice to other moms who experience that guilt?
I felt a little isolated and that maybe it would have been easier for my husband to help more if my son were formula fed. He will say that he sometimes felt really helpless in the beginning because all he could do was be there with me. Which I of course found invaluable.
My son's pediatrician was also less than awesome when she told me to stop breastfeeding because Robby wouldn't eat purees or table food until 15M. I felt pretty horrible about that. But we stuck with it! He wouldn't eat anything else. There was a time when I wished my son would take a bottle. Or eat something other than yogurt... I really had no time to myself until he was about 18 months. That part was a little difficult and I feel bad thinking that I needed time to myself.
10. What are you most PROUD of about how you've fed your child?
We lasted a good long time. 17.5 months. I think if my husband had been home between 12 months and 17.5 months, we would have stopped sooner but things work out the way they work out.
11. If you have more than one child, was your experience feeding your children the same or different? In which ways? What's your advice to a mom who did not get the experience she wanted with one kid, could it be different with feeding another one?
Just one kiddo here.
12. What have you learned about yourself as a mother through the process of feeding your child?
I am not particularly motherly in regards to my personality. But my son thinks I am pretty great. :-)
13. Anything else you'd like to add?
Don't be afraid to bug that LC in the beginning. Or in the middle. Or at the end. We are our child(ren)'s best advocate.
14. What supplies, equipment, brands, accessories, etc. were your favorite as far as feeding your baby? (bottles, formula brand, nursing or pumping equipment, etc.)
I have a long torso, so I found the Boppy completely worthless. I had a nursing cover that I loved, and totally can't remember the name of it. It's stored away somewhere in case we have more kids. My pump is a Medela, but as I mentioned - total torture (plus, Robby would never take a bottle once he figured out the latch situation).