Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Breastfeeding

I am just wrapping up nearly sixteen months of breastfeeding Ephraim, and I have felt like I should write a post on the topic—with bits of advice for new moms and pregnant friends. :)

I had two very different experiences with breastfeeding my two sons. With Nolan, we only made it to seven months, and I remember feeling very crushed that I didn’t make it to my year goal.

Ephraim was exclusively breastfed until he was six-months-old and started solids. He never had a bottle of formula or breastmilk, which means that we were basically inseparable for a year. In the past few months, as he’s grown to love cow’s milk, he has weaned very gradually. I’m getting pretty emotional about being done, but I am so happy that he is a healthy and busy little guy!

Here are some of the things I would advise, should you choose the often-difficult path of breastfeeding:

1. Use both breasts equally.
Start on different sides each time. If in the last nursing session, you fed him first with your right breast and then your left breast; switch this time and start with the left. It becomes nearly impossible to remember sometimes, especially when you are sleep-deprived in the middle of the night, but my trick was to use my wedding ring as a reminder. I switched it to my right hand to cue me to start with the right breast, or my left hand to start with the left breast.

2. Push through.
Issues will arise. Mastitis. Plugged Ducts. Thrush. Cracking or bleeding. Needing nipple shields. There were a few weeks in October when Ephraim was 9-months-old, that I had piercing pain every time I tried to feed him. Eventually, I narrowed the problem down to thrush and treated it in various ways. I also had a couple of plugged ducts, which ended up being a super easy fix. From there on out, it was smooth sailing. With some advice and guidance from a breastfeeding expert or doctor, you CAN get through it, and go on to breastfeed successfully!

3. Limit distractions.
When they’re newborns, they don’t mind if you watch episode after episode of Grey’s Anatomy while they nurse. But when they reach five or six months, they start wiggling around trying to see what’s going on. They may not like having another person talking in the room. It’s best to find a quiet place in the house and let them take a social break.

4. Drink A LOT!
Research says that your liquid intake doesn’t necessarily affect your milk, but it can’t hurt! Keep a water bottle close, and drink at least 8 ounces every time that you nurse. For a while, I drank a fennel, fenugreek, and anise tea by Yogi called “Women’s Nursing Support”. Though it tasted like an intense black licorice to me, I’m sure it helped my milk supply, and let me feel proactive in the later months when E was drinking less and less from me.

5. Surround yourself with people who encourage you.
Find a lactation consultant who you can call when you need help. Phone a friend who is currently breastfeeding, too. When Nolan was 3-months-old, I received one or two comments from friends that he was “skinny”. I began to worry, and followed their advice to supplement with formula. In retrospect, I think that he was getting plenty of milk, he was gaining a pound a month, and he was just a taller and thinner baby. When I began supplementing with formula, my milk supply waned, and Nolan became disinterested quickly. Listen to the advice of your doctor, but don’t doubt that your breastmilk will feed your baby with the exact supply that they need.

6. Be willing to nurse anywhere, anytime.
As a first-time mom, it sounds really uncomfortable to nurse in the middle of Chick-Fil-A at lunchtime or at a holiday party with all of your friends. Find a secluded spot, have your husband sit next to you to block you, or be really brave with your nursing cover. Chances are, no one is going to notice you anyway—they’ll just think the baby is napping, so long as you are covered up. Don’t sacrifice a feeding just because you might be uncomfortable nursing in front of strangers.

7. Enjoy it!
It is SUCH a special time, and even though you feel like a cow on some days, it is the best bonding experience with your baby, and it goes by way too fast :)

 

I think that breastfeeding has been one of the very hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I feel blessed that I was able to do it for 23 months total with the two boys! I’ll definitely be missing it in these next few months, as it became such a big part of my life :)

7 comments:

  1. Weaning is such a bittersweet time, I think. I weaned my eldest at 18 months as I was having trouble falling pregnant again, and my second is 9 months at the moment - it is odd to think I might be halfway...depends on when her & I decide enough is enough I suppose. The only thing I would add is to your 'nurse anywhere' point - one thing I have learnt is that if you forget yourself & whip out a boob to feed a hungry baby like you do at home / baby pulls off & you don't notice because you're chatting & your nipple is on show for a bit / your 1 year old pulls at your breastfeeding-friendly top & you accidentally flash IT IS OK...honestly, no one cares - not even a little bit. I wasted (& have watched friends waste) too much time on being embarrassed about it. Most people have a mother / sister / aunt / daughter who has nursed and they all understand. Good luck with the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another with your beautiful boys!

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  2. Great advice mama! I love the wedding ring idea!! We are wrapping up nursing too, but I am tucking that advice away for the next go round!

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  3. Such great advice! Another piece of advice to add is try again even if it didn't go so well with your first child. I only nursed my oldest for 3 months but it was completely a me problem. When I realized I could either look at it as time consuming or sweet moments that I could have with my child - my attitude changed. Being a first time mom, I struggled trying to do it all - be a good mom, successful at my job, and continue to do all the things I did before kids - it just wasn't working! So when my daughter came along, my thinking had been changed and I desperately wanted to nurse her longer. Happy to say I was able to nurse her for over a year.

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  4. I nursed 3 out of my 5 and nursed olivia the longest...10 months. It was such a great easy experience for me. I was young when I had my first two and just wasn't comfortable with it,, and I never felt any. Guilt giving formula. Great post

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  5. Great advice! It IS most definitely hard and takes a lot of work. I have a post in the making about pumping exclusively as breastfeeding didn't work as I had hoped for both boys. IF we had a third, I'd still try again though...you never know. That is so awesome you bf for that long! Such amazing benefits from breast milk and the bonding! Good job mama! And good luck weaning. I bet it's going to feel weird to have your body back to yourself again :)

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  6. I have a similar post scheduled to go up soon. I'm on 21 months with Liam, which is amazing, because so many people told me I couldn't effectively breastfeed a baby with Down Syndrome. HA! Great advice, and great job going so long! XOXO

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  7. Love this post! Nursing is hardwork! I didn't nurse my first, he was born with some health issues after a long labor & was in the nicu. My second I tried nursing but stopped after 4 weeks, after going to the Drs for weight checks & constantly being told that he was loosing instead of gaining even with wet diapers & my milk was in...and a lot of it I just felt like a failure. I would supplement with 2oz and he was drink it so fast and then cry for more. I should have pumped but I didn't. I was so overwhelmed with emotion I just gave up...my biggest mommy regret to date! If it's in gods plan for us to have another..I will try harder next time! :)

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Thank you so much for your comments! I enjoy reading each one, and if you ask me a question, I will respond below it :) Thanks again!!

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