In celebration of World Breast Feeding Week I thought I would share my story here. I hope you find it encouraging and uplifting…
I was determined to breast feed from the moment I got pregnant. In fact, at my first prenatal appointment, my OB-GYN said something along the lines of “Are you planning on breast feeding? Because your body definitely is!” I was even more than determined. I was downright excited. I never considered any alternative. It was the one thing I didn’t need to do any research on… I didn’t need statistics to tell me what I already instinctively knew. So I’m going to completely skip the preachy part that these stories always tend to include and skip right to the personal stuff.
Olivia nursed on the delivery table just moments after being born. She latched on with no trouble whatsoever. In fact, she was quite literally attached to my breast for 24 hours. I’m sure this is true with most infants in the first few days of life. Looking back, I’m not sure how I blocked out the searing pain of nursing a baby for 24 hours STRAIGHT. I mean… she literally wanted to nurse every 15-30 min. I guess I was too high on a more intense love than I’d ever felt… Finally, on the second night, with nipples that were cracked and bleeding, I called the nurse desperate for suggestions. Since obviously Olivia wasn’t actually getting anything other than colostrum, she suggested that I let her suck on my pinkie finger for comfort. I HAD NO IDEA HOW STRONG AN INFANT COULD SUCK! I was so shocked that I woke Daniel up and made him stick his pinkie in her mouth just so he could understand. I scheduled time with the lactation consultant the next day to make sure that a poor latch wasn’t causing the pain. Nope. Her latch was great. And the pain – totally normal. And it makes sense that your nipples would need an adjustment period. More than painful, it’s frustrating. And the first few weeks definitely didn’t get much better in our case. I winced when Olivia would start crying in the middle of the night for a feeding… When you’re deliriously tired and incredibly sore down there… there’s nothing wonderful about rolling over (we were co sleeping at the time) and letting a little monster latch on with the strength of a pirana. Enough about the pain, I don’t think anyone can adequately express it.
Around 3 weeks, the pain tapered and my milk supply began to adjust to Olivia’s demand. Like a light switched, I started to really enjoy nursing. More than enjoy it… I loved it. Just as much as I thought I would. I was filled with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and emotion every time I nursed. Even the middle-of-the-night feedings, I enjoyed. Nursing was, and still is, our most special bonding time. I make a point to try and keep the TV and other distractions off – which was more difficult during the first few weeks when nursing was basically ALL we did – but I really cherish the time now. I’m already trying to emotionally prepare myself for the day when Olivia doesn’t want to nurse anymore.
I read a few different books while I was pregnant about what to expect when nursing a newborn. Most sources said to expect about 10-15 minutes on each side. Quickly I learned that Olivia was a remarkably fast eater! I obsessively timed each feeding (Using the Total Baby iPhone App – Mentioned Here) for the first 5 WEEKS! Olivia never ate for longer than 10 minutes on a side – More often 6-7 min on the first side, then 3-4 min on the second side. By 3 months, she was eating in under 10 minutes total – usually only on one side. And thus started my obsession with my milk supply. When Olivia began eating on only one side, I began pumping (after almost every feeding) on the opposite side. Obviously this created an over supply problem leaving me with 100+ ounces of frozen breast milk. As you can imagine, pumping after every feeding got old REALLY quick. And… being totally lopsided was especially inconvenient when we were out and about. So I stopped pumping as frequently… then pretty much stopped pumping all together (With the exception of 1x in the morning to empty overnight excess). Naturally, my body adjusted to what it was sensing was a lower demand level. Psychologically, I knew that this would happen… but I still panicked that my supply would “dry up.” And when I say panicked… I mean stressed day and night, EVERY DAY for almost 2 months. Was she getting enough? Was she really a fast eater or was I not producing enough for her to nurse as long as other babies? So a friend, after listening patiently for so many hours, shared an article on things I could do to boost my supply. And I tried them ALL. Mother’s Milk Tea, Fenugreek, Oatmeal, Beer…. you name it, I tried it. All of which had some small effect. Almost 6 months of successful nursing and I STILL worry about my supply.
It makes me incredibly sad to think about the number of women who are equally committed to nursing but have REAL issues – supply, latching, jobs with unaccommodating bosses etc. I feel like women should be encouraged.. more than that…. supported (financial and emotional) with breast feeding. It isn’t easy at first, but there are several completely FREE resources available. Online forums and message boards as well as local branches of LLL make finding support and information easy. In a culture that has become obsessed with convenience – I’ve found breast feeding to be a wonderful reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment. I hadn’t given much thought to my opinions on extended breast feeding pre-baby. I’ve come to feel very strongly about letting Olivia decide when she’s ready to wean. I have no qualms with the appropriateness of nursing a “toddler” and plan to nurse as long as possible.
That being said… our breast feeding journey is nowhere close to over.
Some of my nursing must-haves
Aiden + Anais Muslin Blankets
I found that these are just as easy and lighter weight to cover-up while nursing in public.
Buy Here $49.95
Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads
These are an awesome, more eco-friendly alternative to disposable nursing pads.
GlamourMom Nursing Tank
By far, the best nursing tanks out there, pricey, but worth it.
Buy Here $59.00
Some other great breast feeding stories over here:
Featured Image Here