Friday, June 27, 2014

Nursing, almost a year update

In just a few weeks my little man Jack is going to be turning 1.  So, I thought now would be a good time to review how breastfeeding has went for us.
I didn't end up nursing Evelyn.  I tried for a few days and was frustrated so instead of getting help I decided that pumping would be the easiest way to go.  Well, pumping proved to be a lot of work and after 8 weeks I ended up giving up and fully switched her to formula.  She did well with the bottle and formula.  She was a healthy baby and didn't have her first illness until she was a year old.  I was sad though because I wanted the experience of nursing and felt like I had given up too easy.
With Jack I wanted to be more prepared, more informed and knew I needed to reach out for more support in order to make it work.
Before he was born Mike and I took a class.  The class was full of great information and we both learned a lot.  Mike was so supportive and the class taught him how he could help.
In the beginning Jack latched right now and things seemed to be starting off smooth.  When we got home and my milk fully came in he started to struggle with latching.  Each time it would take longer and longer to get him on.  I was sore and my nipples were chapped and bleeding.  Which can be normal for most woman so I fought the pain and worked through it.  After a week or so with the latching issue getting worse we were both starting to get frustrated and I was considering giving up.  I would cry at almost every feeding.  He would be screaming and I would be crying and just wanting to comfort him but I couldn't get him to latch.
The turning point came early one morning.  It was around 5:00 am.  Mike was up and in the shower.  Evelyn was running circles in our room.  Jack was screaming and had been for 20 minutes because he couldn't get latched on.  I was at this point in hysterical tears holding a screaming Jack and rocking back in forth.  Mike got out of the shower, picked up Jack, picked up Evelyn and left the room.
When I calmed down he came back in, helped me get Jack latched on and we talked.  He said something so simple yet so amazing.  He said, it doesn't matter how we feed our children, what matters is how we raise him.  He was right.  I was fighting so hard for something that in the long run doesn't change who our child will become.  I mean Evelyn was formula fed and is an amazing little girl.  Jack would be fine however I fed him.
After taking some time to think, I decided that I would call the lactation consultant and get some help.  If it didn't work then I would pump and formula feed if I had to.
I met with the lactation consultant that afternoon and she quickly realized that Jack was having a hard time latching because my let down of milk was too strong for him.  He was chocking essentially.  I tried an unconventional hold where he was sitting up and nursing and it worked.  I never had a latch problem from that point forward.
Nursing has been a hard road though.  He became very attached and for a while struggled taking a bottle.  For months I could never leave him because he needed to eat and I was his sole provider of food.  He would go through his growth spurts and nurse on and off all night long.  I also dealt with clogged ducts, over supply, leaking and in general I had a lot of throbbing pain for the first 6 months.
Coming up to my goal of nursing for a year is bitter sweet.  I am so proud of myself and so happy that I stuck it out.  The bond I have with Jack is amazing.  He is my cuddle buddy for sure.  He is always snuggling with me.  I just love it.  I think that has a lot to do with breastfeeding.  I am able to provide a source of comfort for him.  I rarely have problems getting him down for naps or bedtime because with nursing he snuggles right up to me, nurses and falls asleep.
I planned on weaning at a year but, I am considering continuing for longer now.  My milk supply is pretty steady but I do have to continue to do the right things in order to keep it strong.
I drink lots and lots of water.  More that 80 oz a day.  I always have my reusable bottle of water with me and just keep refilling it up during the day.
I eat and eat.  I find that if I get too hungry my supply gets low.  I eat every couple hours and try to eat protein for meals and snacks.  I also eat oats every day because they are proven to increase breast milk.  Some of my favorite quick snacks are steamed edamame, banana's with peanut butter, home made granola bars, raw almonds and fruit.
I nurse often or pump if I feel too full.  I nurse Jack on demand but if he is having an off day I will pump at his usual eat time to keep my body on that same feeding cycle.  Last month I started pumping in the morning.  I get the most milk if I pump in the morning.  I will give Jack a bottle to drink and then keep the rest of the milk in the refrigerator.  I freeze it after a couple of days if it doesn't get used.  That is how I have built a back up supply and it also allows me to be able to leave with out Jack and Mike has something to feed him.
I am glad that I worked so hard and have been able to nurse Jack for so long.  It has been an amazing experience.  I am not suggesting through this post that breastfeeding is right for everyone.  Not everyone feels as strongly about making it work as I did.  That is ok.  You have to do what is best for your family and your baby.  This was the best choice for me and I have no regrets about working so hard to make it work.  
I am no expert but I had my struggles.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment.

A typical morning pump session.  

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