World Breastfeeding Week

Happy Sunday Funday! It’s World Breastfeeding Week. This time last year, I had a 3 month old nursling who had become a champion nurser by the time she was 5 weeks old. Those first 5 weeks, though? PURE HELL. It was rough. I was so sore and every time she latched, my toes curled and I winced and did my “labor” breathing through the pain for the first 30 seconds or so. Longest 30 seconds of my life! Anyway, I want to share some of my most favorite photos of our nursing adventure. It was not easy, even after those first few weeks. Breastfeeding a baby goes through many different changes as the baby grows and needs change. I questioned if I was doing the right thing almost every other week it seemed. The number one thing I do know I did right all the time was to listen to Evelyn. I followed her cues and nursed her on demand.

I am asked often where the best places on the web are for answering breastfeeding questions. Here is a list of my favorite resources.

  • Kelly Mom: The ultimate go-to where you can find an answer to just about any question or concern, everything from pumping and storing breast milk to finding out if certain medications are safe.
  • La Leche League: This site will allow you to find your local La Leche League. There you can find monthly or weekly meet ups. Community and support are HUGE in making a breastfeeding relationship last longer.
  • The Breast Site: This site is not just about breastfeeding, but also about breast health and if you have other questions or concerns, this place has the answers.

My hope is that if you are going to be or are a breastfeeding mom, that you have a great hospital with internal resources. Ours has an incredible program which was free. I was able to do free weight checks, go to a weekly support group, and get one on one assistance in person and over the phone by two amazing lactation nurses. I honestly don’t think I could have made it as far in my breastfeeding journey as I had without them!

One of the biggest messages that World Breastfeeding Week promotes is that breastfeeding is NORMAL and NATURAL and nothing to hide behind. We need to encourage our sisters to nurse how they are comfortable-cover, no cover, in public, in private, sitting, side-laying, on an airplane, pumping at work….This link shows statistics state-by-sate the percentage of breastfeeding moms and for how long they have nursed their child.

Image by 2M Photography
Image by 2M Photography

all done

As of four nights ago, Evelyn and I have stopped nursing. It was coming slowly over the last month as I watched my supply tank and her interest fade. I let her do 90% of the leading and followed the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” mantra that many weaning mamas had suggested. I stopped pumping at work when she turned one, which I was so glad to be done doing! Any mama who must pump for any reason knows how hard pumping is!

breastfeeding has been an incredible journey for us and I am so thankful we were able to do it successfully. I can understand why so many women have a hard time getting past the first 3-6 weeks because it is SO exhausting and painful. Maybe not for everyone, but for most. I wanted to share some pieces of wisdom that I learned throughout our 13 month journey.

  • Let baby lead, you follow. Meaning, feed on demand. This can seem tricky, especially as they get older and more assertive. I always let Evie do the leading as to when she wanted and needed to nurse. Just a month ago when she spiked a random fever she nursed all day long! I’m sure it was more for comfort than for anything else, but it’s what she needed and I knew that is what was best.
  • Nursing strikes happen. We only had one true strike when she was around 4 months old and I spent almost two weeks pumping and bottle feeding, only after I’d attempt to get her to latch first without success. Then one day she decided to just come back to nursing.
  • Find a great lactation counselor. We have an awesome program through our hospital and I swear my LC is the Mother Theresa of breastfeeding! I called her often and she was always available to help talk me through any concerns I had. I also went to the weekly check in group where I was able to weigh and feed Evie to see how here weight was doing. We didn’t go every week, but it was nice to be around other moms and get any questions I had answered.
  • Buy good nursing bras and tanks. I lived in these things and found that, at night, a tank was perfect for nursing!
  • You can get through teething without being bit–often! I tell ya, when Evie popped her first tooth at 5 months I thought our nursing days were numbered. I was so worried about her biting me. I’d heard horror stories! She managed to get 8 teeth by the time she was 10 months old and she only bit me a few times, usually due to a bad latch. But we got through it!
  • Surround yourself with support. Make sure your partner is supportive and if he is not, give him a swift kick…no really…he needs to embrace this amazing gift you’re able to give your baby! You’ll also want support from your girlfriends.
  • Nurse in public, cover or no cover, whatever is most comfortable for YOU and your baby. I never had a problem with nursing in public and I used a cover sometimes but Evie hated it. Then, as she got older she became so easily distracted I’d have to go hide somewhere quiet to get her to nurse. Just do what is most comfortable for YOU. 🙂

That’s all for now! I am  sad this is over, but glad to move on from this and to build our relationship in a different way as she grows.

A Personal Post on Breastfeeding

Evelyn is 6 weeks old tomorrow and I’m totally not going to acknowledge how quickly time is going, but rather talk about our breastfeeding journey. When I was a brand new mama with Logan, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I wanted to breastfeed and give my baby natures milk for as long as possible. When Logan was 6 weeks old, we had already been dealing with continued use of a nipple shield, thrush and an abscess that had to be drained. (post hereI pushed through those things and stayed determined to keep nursing my new son. Then I lost it. The emotional mess that all those physical issues was causing became too much for me to handle. I was two weeks away from going back to work and I had to decide if it was time to wean or keep going. I wrote this post and my heart broke. It was over. No more nursing. In hindsight, nursing Logan was never easy or very enjoyable to begin with. I just did it because I knew it was best. I had girlfriends who breastfed their babies did their best to encourage me but I could not keep going.

Between the time that I stopped nursing Logan and the time that I became pregnant again, I knew that I was not going to let that experience stop me from breastfeeding my next baby. At my 12 week appointment with my midwife, she asked me about it and I told her I was going to do everything I possibly could to make it work, not just because I knew it was best, like last time, but because it was what I wanted. I wanted the bonding, closeness, and experience that women have been doing for forever. My midwife was almost surprised that the bad experience did not deter me from trying again.
And here we are now, 6 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding and it could not be more incredible or different than last time. The first two nights we were in the hospital I hand expressed colostrum onto my pinky finger. In the middle of day two my milk started to come in. Evie and I practiced nursing but once the milk was in, I was terribly engorged. She could barely latch but I knew that if we used a nipple shield that would be the start of the end (so I thought). By day four I was pumping and bottle feeding Evie because the engorgement was so bad she could not latch. We met with a lactation consultant and she gave us some great tricks, but still suggested I pump even just for a few minutes before nursing. So with all the pumping, bottle-feeding, practicing nursing, cleaning parts, etc I was not sleeping–at all. Day five, on Friday, I caved late that night and begged B to go buy us a nipple shield. I hated pumping and I knew Evie wanted to nurse just as much as I wanted her to.
For the next two weeks I used the shield and most of the time I was able to start off with it and then take it away. There was some minor nipple confusion and two weeks ago she bit me through the shield. I am pretty sure I nearly blacked out the pain was so horrible. And that was it. I took the shield off and made Evie latch without it and we have not needed it since.
The actual pain from latching happened every time we nursed for five solid weeks. My toes curled and I cursed in my head that it was just for a few effing seconds and it would go away. Then last week, as if mother nature was giving me a break, the pain started to subside and breastfeeding really is becoming a very natural, seamless experience. I am so proud of myself and of Evelyn for learning how to get this whole thing figured out. She has a bottle of expressed milk maybe 2-3 times a week and usually only if I have to pump because I continue to have an oversupply. I have over 100 ounces of milk in the freezer for when I go back to work. I still pump almost every morning and sometimes in the evenings to keep building that supply.
And the best part? I have the most supportive family. B loves that I am breastfeeding our little girl. He loves that we have a special bond and that I am giving her tons of nutrients and immunities. I’ve easily nursed in public and around other people without much thought. I’m waiting until Evie is a little bit more focused and older before I attempt to ditch the cover, even though we both hate it.
Here’s to 6 more weeks! I’m setting small goals. I’m supposed to return to work then and I’m praying that my supply stays the same and that increased bottle-feeding doesn’t turn Evie off from nursing. I hate to think about it, but ugh…gotta do what I gotta do!