Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marathon...no running involved.

There are 2 words I read repeatedly while I was pregnant but somehow was incapable of comprehending until I experienced it firsthand so alas, may I at least attempt to warn the next soul behind me of the...dun dun duuuuuunnnnnnn...nursing marathon

In my birth education there was so much focus on the preservation of our 1st few hours together so that we could establish a strong nursing relationship that somehow the next most important period, the first weeks postpartum, were not relayed with as much lights and sparkle in terms of broken down info and coping suggestions.  

With that preservation in mind I ran not walked to the hospital exit signs as soon as my legs could carry us as I could see the chance of going downhill was certain if I stayed any longer than required.

Once home, my daughter wanted to nurse seemingly every other hour for at least 30-45 minutes sometimes stretching closer to 90 minutes at time. The concept that I was anything other than her provider whom she could literally remain affixed to like a little fish sucking happily if not indefinitely the side of its bowl was beyond her. 

Mommy needs to go to the bathroom? Sorry, either take me with you or I'll need you to sit and twist until I'm done. Thirsty? Be glad you took heed of that side note to stash water bottles around the house and by your nursing chair. Key word there of course was water; at my darkest hour I experienced the dreadfully light lift of the bottle with only a drop of liquid inside it and no one in sight to refill it for me. Car ride to do errands? Nope, I’ll cry until you unbuckle me from this seat, take me home and let me cling to you as my life depends on it. If the milk could remain on intravenous drip direct from me to her I assure you she would have found a way. I don’t know how others do without it but I quickly found a way to nursing at night without getting up and with my sling so that I could proceed with whatever movement (sling) or rest (laying down positions) I needed.

In the hospital the lactation consultant demonstrated how to nurse by stretching out on the floor and flipping on to her side, I wish I’d paid more attention. I was too busy floating down from cloud 99 to take note but after night 3 of sitting up all night nursing I started to wonder how many more months will it be before I can actually lie down and go to sleep? So I fumbled with pillows and through a slew of positions until I got it and for me the key to all of this has been to keep at it, if a position didn't work I would keep shifting until now all of it is second nature and most importantly enjoyable moment after moment to connect and nourish my daughter.

My sweet petunia would nurse for so long and so often that the valid question...didn't she just eat? was asked by the caring souls around me and the answer was yes, she did and was hungry again and still learning.  But you will be rewarded for those marathons and in our case; nursing is as little as 10 minutes sometimes a little longer.  

A positive way to view this period is as your baby moon.  Non-stop nursing is distressing when you are in need of food, concerned about other household needs, visitors, work etc. The list is endless. To get through this period with greater ease accept all offers of help, ask for help, and if you are on your own and or/with a limited circle of support there are things you can do in advance to help tide you over (I’m going to get into this further in later posts), try to limit interruptions and visitors, especially visitors whom you do not feel fully at ease around as nursing is hard enough in the 1st few days let alone trying to get on firm footing in front of others you do not normally share intimate moments with. Have a nursing nest and plenty of water, reading etc. so that you can remain ensconced comfortably. I could go on, and will in future, because breastfeeding does not have to be the toe curling scare mare it can easily turn into.

One of the most basic coping essentials though is a full water bottle within reach of your nursing nest. You will discover a new meaning behind the word want when your water cup or bottle is washed, air drying in the dish rack within sight and out of reach from your dry mouth and a baby in no rush to free you from whatever position you've been pulled to.   

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