Yarn Along:: Thoughts on Breastfeeding

After taking about a week and a half hiatus from knitting my Climbing Vines pullover, it’s back in circulation!  I had made good progress, knitting the back in just one week.  But with family in town, and two boisterous toddlers boucing around, knitting a charted sweater with shaping just wasn’t happening.  After going into the knitting dead zone for a few days (no knitting whatsoever!) I did end up casting on a new project.  It was a quick baby knit (so quick in fact, that it’s finished already, so I’ll be saving it for another post).  The yarn and pattern are still lovely, and I remain optimistic that I can finish up in a couple of weeks.  I probably won’t be meeting my end of the month goal, but that’s okay.  Knitting is fun, not homework, remember!

Last week I found myself in the parenting section of our local library looking for books about teaching babies sign language.  Inspired by my sister and other families, we incorporated the use of a few signs into our daily life with PB early on.  They have been very helpful so far, but my vocabulary is limited.  I got distracted at the library that day, however, and ended up bringing home two books on breastfeeding: Unbuttoned , a collection of essays, and How My Breasts Saved the World, a memoir.

I never really had strong feelings about breastfeeding before I became a mother.  There was this sense that it was a good thing to do, a natural, healthy way to feed and bond with your baby.  But I never held one way of feeding your baby in higher regard than another, nor did I judge a woman for choosing bottle over breast.

When I was pregnant, I still didn’t give it a whole lot of thought beyond the fact that I knew I wanted to see what this breastfeeding thing was all about.  If it worked, great, and if not, there seemed to be a whole industry out there designed to support me.  Friends of mine have done just about everything on the baby-feeding spectrum, from immediate formula feeding to militant nursing on demand.  I figured I’d fall somewhere in the middle with a moderate sensibility about the whole thing.  I did nothing to prepare myself for what was ahead, believing the act of nursing would be instinctual between my baby and me.

Then I had Peaceful Baby and realized I had no idea what I was in for.

Breastfeeding is hard.  Especially in the beginning when you don’t really know what is happening with your body, what It is supposed to feel like, how to hold your baby, how often to feed her, what kind of bra to wear, what kind of lotion to use, and more.  Breastfeeding can often be uncomfortable, even painful at the beginning, and it demands a lot of time and commitment.  In those early days and weeks of learning what to do when, I considered throwing in the towel more than once.  It would be so much easier if I could sleep and let someone else feed the baby at 2 am and again at 4 and 6 and so on…

After the kinks were worked out and I became more confident in my abilities to know when my baby was hungry and how to feed her, it got easy.  It was like a breath of fresh spring air the day I realized we had this whole breastfeeding thing figured.  It took about 3 months, but finally I wasn’t worrying about how to hold her head, or if it was okay to nurse out in public anymore.  It was just me and Peaceful Baby doing our thing and doing it well.

Oh how I wish I would have read these books while pregnant, and especially when I was in those raw early weeks of first-time motherhood!  I’m confident I made it through this first year because of the support I received from my partner and the other women in the breastmilk trenches at a local breastfeeding support group.  There is so much insight and support to be gained through the wisdom of others, and breastfeeding is an area where women need to speak honestly with one another.  These books both offer up a thick slice of honesty: the good and more challenging aspects of nursing, pumping, going back to work, coping with motherhood, giving up breastfeeding, and more.  If you are expecting and think you’d like to try nursing your little one, please check these out.  I’m thinking they’d also make a great shower gift, along with a darling hand-knit baby garment, of course!  And please, ask your friends about their experiences nursing their little ones, or share your story with a friend; this is one of the best ways we can support one another through the adventures of breastfeeding.

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So, that’s what I’m knitting and reading this week.  If you’d like to yarn along, head over to small things and put your blog on the list, or leave a comment here telling me what you’re up to.

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9 thoughts on “Yarn Along:: Thoughts on Breastfeeding

  1. Both of our kids were pre-mature and took some weeks learning the whole suck-swallow-breath routine as well as getting strong enough to manage. But each kiddo & I kept at it and made it work. With much work. Your post jogged my memory: just after the first was born & I’d had the in-hospital visit from a lactation nurse, my husband and I ordered & had shipped overnight “The Nursing Mother’s Companion.” So by the time we were able to take our new one home, I had the book to help me through some of the trying times.

  2. I love the green! Beautiful! I too gave up my nursing experience with my second daughter too easily. It was what she needed though. She was much happier when we moved to formula. Not what I had hoped, but the good choice. Keep at it… it will be worth it!

  3. 4 babies later, and I’m still learning something new about breastfeeding 🙂 Thank you for book recommendations, I’ll have to check and see if our library has them.

    and that green yarn look fantastic. what kind is it?

  4. Those books sound great. And I agree, it really is hard when you are first beginning to breastfeed. With my first daughter it was so painful for months, she had difficulty latching and sucking properly. But we stuck it out and she had a long, happy nursing “career”. I went on to nurse two more and am still nursing the third. Regardless of the difficulties it is *so* worth it to make it through those hard wks (or months). And, like you, I didn’t really have much of an opinion about it all pre-baby. Boy has that changed!

  5. Oooh it’s that gorgeous green yarn again! I just LOVE it *grin*. I agree, breastfeeding is hard! With my first one I didn’t make it very long and I gave up thinking there was something wrong with me but I just didn’t know what exactly to expect or do. I had wonderful experiences with my second and third children after reading mass amounts of books on birthing and breastfeeding and it was such a wonderful experience and one I’m hoping that I will be blessed to have again 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed reading through your blog tonight 🙂

  6. Pretty, pretty green yarn!
    It’s so much easier to write some simple little thing about yarn than about breastfeeding, isn’t it? I remember sitting in the Dr.’s office crying and crying just begging for a shot to let me feed my daughter again. Instead we spent time in the hospital as they tried to figure out her particular problem which was, in actuality, super simple and had nothing to due with my breastfeeding or not. But that, of course, was the first thing they pulled. We both survived but I’d still like to go back and strangle certain people!

  7. Thank you for such an open posting about your nursing experience, and the books you have mentioned. My little guy Aidan decided yesterday (at 13 months) that he is weaned. I was able to nurse him thanks to an incredible breastfeeding clinic in my town, and perseverance through 8 cases of mastitis. I would do it all over again for him. I agree that being able to be open and talk to others, and to seek support is key in breastfeeding success!

    I have a girlfriend currently due with her first baby. I love your idea of these books paired with a handknit item 🙂

    *Fivesticks on Ravelry 🙂

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