Friday, June 28, 2013

Back to breastfeeding one more time... kind of

You don't have to hang around my blog for long to see that I'm a huge fan and major proponent of breastfeeding. I've written multiple posts about nursing and how grueling it can be, but also never failed to mention how wonderful it is. The hard work put into nursing is paid off a hundredfold when you get those sweet, cuddly bonding moments with your little bundle.

Just recently, I got a fantastic question from Gayle, which I later (not willingly) experienced firsthand while my little boy wouldn't nurse:

"How do you promote that awesome bonding experience when you're physically unable to breastfeed?"
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First off, there are definitely some valid reasons for not breastfeeding. In Gayle's case, she's had a preventative mastectomy (read her story here). Breast reductions, lifts, and lumpectomies can hinder nursing depending on the amount of ducts/tissue removed. Since we're on the subject of breast surgeries, breast augmentation doesn't have to affect nursing. Again, it depends on whether or not ducts/tissue was removed. Maybe you've adopted. Maybe momma has a disease that can be transmitted through bodily fluids (HIV or HTLV-1), or maybe she needs a medication that is incompatible with breastfeeding. Perhaps your little one has physical anomalies that inhibit nursing. Maybe you're in the 5% of women who don't make breast milk (which is not to be confused with producing some milk, but not enough to exclusively breastfeed).

In any case, there are ways to get in cuddle time and warm fuzzes with your baby despite needing to bottle feed.

First, it's all in your mindset. Just like you can make specific concessions to promote bonding while bottle feeding, you can also totally blow off breastfeeding. I can remember in those early days where nursing sessions seemed to never end I would zone out watching a tv show or checking Facebook or reading a blog. Sure, I was providing nourishment to my child, but my mind was elsewhere. There have been days where I've toted my kiddo around the house with me while breastfeeding so I could get some much needed items crossed off my to-do list. Connecting with your child during feedings is a choice to make whether you're breast feeding or bottle feeding.

Secondly, make your feeding environment conducive to bonding. In other words, it's not as easy to bond with your baby if you're holding his bottle while pushing the stroller through Macy's. Catch my drift? Find a special chair or get comfy with some pillows in the corner of the nursery. Turn off your phone and the tv and eliminate things that can be distractions to you or your baby. Don't rush through the process - remember, it's not just a chore to complete. Wholeheartedly giving your time to another person is an incredibly profound indicator of that person's value, and the same goes for your child!

Next comes the feeding. Make it an enjoyable experience! Talk to your baby. Sing songs to him. Cuddle him close and stroke his hair. Play music while you're feeding. Read a book. Pray over him. There are all sorts of things you can do while feeding to love on your baby. Skin-to-skin contact (or kangaroo care) is another really easy and fantastic way to facilitate bonding with your baby and can still be done despite bottle feeding. For the "full effect," you can even implement a Supplemental Nursing System. The SNS is a bottle/tube system that provides formula for baby through a tiny tube you attach to your breast. Baby goes to breast just as if it were taking breast milk but gets formula through the tube instead.

With the right attitude and some preparation, bottle feedings can still turn out to be tender and sweet moments between momma and baby.... without the threat of bites, engorgement, and mastitis.

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