Sunday, June 29, 2008

Food for thought

Something about motherhood that surprised me is the extent to which nursing has changed my life. DJ and I seem to be getting the hang of it, but there are always questions -- is he getting enough to eat? Is he getting enough hindmilk? Why did he suddenly start spitting up?

Besides the doubts, nursing is difficult work. Babies eat more frequently than their bottle-fed counterparts, as often as every two to three hours. That clock starts, though, when a feeding begins. So if DJ starts eating at 2 p.m., he'll need to start his next meal by 5 p.m. In the early weeks, nursing could take 45 minutes and doing anything else was tough. Now his feedings go faster. That schedule, thankfully, doesn't apply at night anymore. Now we're on demand, so if he sleeps seven hours straight (which he did two nights last week), we just wait until he wants to eat.

A nursing cover has also made life easier. Armed with it, DJ has eaten in diners, at Ikea, in his Dad's office, in his Mom's office, and even on a bus. That's the nice thing about nursing -- when he gets hungry, I just have to slip the cover over my head. We don't worry about preparing a bottle or making sure we have enough formula when we go out.

Clothing has also been a struggle. At first I stuck to button-down shirts, thinking they would make nursing easier, but they really didn't. And as nursing progressed, many shirts stopped fitting altogether. That was really frustrating, since the remaining baby weight already limited my clothing selection.

Trying to find something in my closet to wear to a recent baby shower was impossible. The only dresses that fit wouldn't have been suitable for nursing. I actually had to go buy a new outfit, which was a pain.

Speaking of pain, nursing isn't supposed to hurt, and doesn't, for the most part. In the beginning, as we were both figuring it out, there was pain. Even today there are occasional minor pains when he doesn't latch properly and we have to start over again, or if we've gone too long between feedings. I have been really lucky, though. Some friends and family who nursed endured quite a bit of pain to do so.

Even with these inconveniences, I'm glad I have been able to nurse, as it's a tremendous benefit to him and helps me feel more bonded. I hope we don't encounter any problems down the road that would make me have to stop doing it.

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