It seems like breast feeding is all the rage these days. I always look to the celebs when I want to know what’s in vogue and a lot of celeb moms breastfeed. I recently saw an interview with Alicia Keys and she talked about her breastfeeding experience. Miranda Kerr and Jessica Alba claim that breast feeding melted their baby fat away. More women these days are breast feeding and even UNICEF and WHO have teamed up to create breast feeding initiatives and make more baby friendly hospitals around the world.
When I got pregnant I was clueless about breast feeding and formula feeding. I never saw a woman breast feed and it was a little outside my comfort zone. I started reading books about pregnancy to get ready. In every book there was a section on infant feeding. Well, you could either breast feed or formula feed. I liked the sound of breast feeding. I’m not much of a housekeeper so the thought of sterilizing bottles and nipples and preparing formula scared the bejesus out of me. And I like that breast feeding might contribute to a higher IQ. I know it’s a little but silly but I wouldn’t want lack of breast milk to stand in my little baby’s way of getting into Harvard.
So when I was pregnant I thought I would give breast feeding a try and see how it went. I tried to take a breast feeding class when I was pregnant but unfortunately I live in Korea and my lack of Korean is appalling. I went anyway and it was an experience. At the end of the class the lactation consultant examined each woman’s nipples and gave them a little pinch to see if anything came out (I think Koreans are a bit more comfortable with their bodies than us puritanical Americans). Luckily, I had met with her in private before and I there was no need for me to flash in front of the other women. I bought a couple of nursing bras and got myself ready. I also had my baby in a baby-friendly hospital.
Fast forward to the birth. My water broke on Buddah’s birthday, two days before my due date. Again, I didn’t know much but I learned that when your water breaks a lot of doctors recommend that you be induced if your contractions don’t start within twenty-four hours. I never really got strong contractions so they induced me the next day. It was pretty intense pain. I was screaming for an epidural and it was awesome. I would absolutely do it over again. I respect the women who have natural births but, as for me, I’m no hero. My baby was born healthy and they took her off to the nursery. I didn’t get to see her till the next morning. Basically I did everything that you’re not supposed to do when you plan to breast feed but I was so tired at that point and I was mentally done with being pregnant. I was secretly hoping to be one of the lucky ones who orgasm while giving birth but alas…We got our baby in the morning and started to practice breast feeding. She latched on great but the lactation consultant recommended I use a nipple shield because on of my nipples got inverted during pregnancy (don’t ask me how that happened!). I used the nipple shield reluctantly because I had heard bad things like the baby will not eat enough and there might be issues with weaning. Anyway, things were going pretty well. So my point is that even if you don’t have the perfect birth you’d envisioned or if you didn’t orgasm during birth you can totally still breast feed.
There’s a huge learning curve with breastfeeding so there’s a few things that I didn’t know about. Like you don’t actually get milk milk until like three days after birth. You just have this clear stuff called colostrum. This is good stuff. Some people call it baby’s first vaccination because it’s packed with powerful antibodies. It also clears out that nasty black junk in the baby’s bowels. So, if you’re a new mom or dad, don’t freak out waiting for your milk to come in. However, we were freaking out so we gave her some formula even though we probably didn’t need to. We did cup feeding though so as to avoid nipple confusion but it was such a hassle we gave her a bottle a couple of times. I later told my husband to ditch the formula because I wanted to keep up my milk supply. Something else I learned is that milk production is based on supply and demand. Along with your hormones, whatever baby takes from you is what you will produce. That’s how women can actually nurse twins. Another thing I didn’t anticipate was the crazy engorgement (some lucky moms don’t get this). When my milk did come in my boobs got super hard, hot, leaky, and painful. In Korea they do boob massages to relieve the pain, prevent clogged ducts, and help the flow of milk. But oh my God that was almost as painful as the birth! I can’t believe the marathon of pain a woman has to go through. It’s not enough that we have to deal with the ten months pregnancy, contractions, then labor and then have our boobs swell up and on top of that have to take care of an infant and stay in a never ending state of sleep induced psychosis for weeks. Wow! Okay okay it’s worth it though right?
Long story short, I’m still breast feeding after four months. It was really intense the first ten weeks what with marathon nursing sessions, weaning from nipple shield issues, working out nursing in public, going back to work and pumping. Oh and I had never heard of a little thing called cluster feeding. Not fun. Basically my daughter would feed on and off for about five hours every evening. And this is normal for some babies! I had a few minor break downs. My husband was a huge help in the beginning. He helped me get her latched properly and would cook and clean while I stayed in bed all freaking day long nursing. That’s another thing they don’t tell you! If you breastfeed on demand your baby will probably being nursing constantly for about the first six to eight weeks give or take. Now it’s super easy and I breastfeed her every two or three hours and last night she slept a total of (drumroll please) eight hours without waking up to nurse! I’m not sure if I’ll make it two years or not. My initial goal was six months but now it seems like to much effort to wean and start formula. Yeah, why would I do that at this point?
So let’s talk about weight loss. I’m happy to say that I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight. So yes you can lose weight. However, pregnancy really does take it out on your body. I seem to have absolutely no muscle tone anymore. I haven’t checked my body fat ratio yet but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s off the charts. I don’t know if the celebs are telling the truth about their weight loss or not but as for me I think I might have to do some weight training or cardio. Dieting is probably not the best idea when you’re breastfeeding because it takes a lot of calories to produce milk. A lot of moms get really hungry and thirsty while breastfeeding but as long as you’re not eating loads of junk food you should be alright (this is something I need to stop doing). Oh and P.S. I found that you can have that glass of occasional wine or coffee and spicy food will not hurt the baby!