Breastmilkin’ it

So, breastfeeding.  I may have mentioned it here in passing, but that doesn’t accurately reflect something that’s been a pretty major part of my life for the past eleven months.  Here we are, and I’ve almost made my goal of breastfeeding for the first twelve months.

In the beginning
Since the Cesarean birth was completely unplanned, I didn’t have much time to worry about the negative effect that it could have on initial breastfeeding.  Gabriel and I has a few minutes of skin-to-skin time in the OR, while I was being sewed, cauterized, and stapled back together, but he did not have the chance to latch on immediately.

When we were reunited in the recovery room an hour later (I’m not really sure how much time passed — I know Matthew was really fighting to get us together immediately), Gabriel snuggled up and latched right on.  With a bit of help from the lactation consultants in the hospital, we were off to a good start, despite our separation while he was in the NICU.

While there was some initial discomfort, I made the transition to breastfeeding fairly easily.  As for Gabriel, well, we never got around to it, but we wanted to make a custom t-shirt with “Born to Suck” printed on it.  Sir liked his mama’s milk.

Back to Work
I headed back to work when Sir was fourteen weeks old.  We intentionally chose a daycare that is literally located right across the street from my office.  With the exception of Monday when he stayed with grandma, I walked across the street and fed him during the day instead of pumping.

I honestly can’t say that I would have continued breastfeeding this long if I was pumping all the time, and my hat is off to those work-outside-the-home mothers who do so (and to those moms who stay home full time, because I don’t think I could do that, either!).

Six months and beyond
We introduced solids, using BabyLed Weaning methods, just after the six month mark.  It was a slow start, but Sir gradually became as enthusiastic about grown-up food as he was about milk.

By the time he was nine months old, we went from five to four milk feeds a day, plus three solid meals, which is where we currently stand.

Bumps in the road
My breastfeeding experience overall has been smooth and positive.  I credit the initial early help from the hospital lactation consultants and the support I received at La Leche League meetings for that.

I have had a few bouts of mastitis.  The first, and probably the worst, prompted a visit to the doctor, where I accepted, and even filled, an antibiotic prescription.  I gave myself twenty-four hours to start feeling better without the antibiotics, and, sure enough, my body cleared the infection on its own.

We’ve also gone through some rough patches with frustrating nursing strikes, mostly due to teething, I suspect.  I was tempted to call it quits during some of these periods, but I’m glad I stuck it out.

Then there was the wondering if my dairy consumption was giving him problems.  My dairy-elimination trials were inconclusive — at this point I would say that either dairy wasn’t the issue, or he outgrew it.

While breastfeeding has been a good thing overall for my mental health, I struggled at times feeling tied down, frustrated with the inability to do anything that took me away from my baby (or my breast pump) for more than three or four hours.

Size Doesn’t Matter
Though I’ve always been a bit self-conscious about my lack of cleavage (“nearly” A-cup, to be specific), I always thought I would have babies and breast feed and never really worried that my small breasts would be a problem.

Turns out, my “too small” breasts produce more than enough milk to adequately nourish a big, healthy baby.

The Future
I remember going through rough patches in the early days, telling myself that I could make it to the six month mark and then reevaluate.

Now that I’ve almost made it the full twelve months (my original, long-term goal), I’m pondering next steps.  While I won’t go cold-turkey at the twelve-month mark, neither do I see myself nursing a five-year-old.

A story from a friend inspired the title of this post.  She found her nephew (who sees her breastfeeding her baby) with a stuffed animal held to his chest.  When asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m breastmilkin’ it.”

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8 Responses to Breastmilkin’ it

  1. Nupur says:

    LOL at the cute little boy breastmilkin’ it! Good for you for making it this long. I’ve been breastfeeding for nearly 9 months and hoping to get to 12+ months too. I pump at work twice a day (each session is 15 minutes), and I am lucky that it is working out fine. I had plugged ducts a couple of times and the baby helped me clear them (pumping did not clear them but nursing the baby cleared them in minutes).

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Extra nursing was part of my remedy for the plugged ducts and resulting mastitis, too. I was very happy to get through it without having to take antibiotics.

      While the rewards and benefits outweigh the downsides, I can better understand why many women stop breastfeeding early. For me, a good support system, both from my husband and other moms, was key.

  2. Love the title of the post…little ones are such troves of verbal treasures. Way to go on almost making it to a year! We’re at 16 months and going strong, although, like you, I don’t think I could have ever done it if our situation had been different (if I had to pump or if I had to be away from him during the day). After going through a really rough start, I am so much more sympathetic to women who stop breastfeeding early or who choose not to do it at all. It’s a real challenge and the support can sometimes really be lacking.

  3. Rachel says:

    I completely identify with your sentiment here, Melissa. When I was pregnant I assumed I would breastfeed, that it would be great, and i would continue for at least a year. Then, a c-section, a NICU stay and some unexplained allergies for the little man made me have second thoughts. I too am still breastfeeding at 7 months, and feel like I am over most of the hurdles that come with learning how to breastfeed (for both me and him). Although, he has not started teething yet. We’ll cross that bridge in time I am sure. Great job for making it this far. I will be interested to hear what happens in month 12 and beyond!

  4. Tracy says:

    I breastfed our son for 17 months, yet had a goal of 12 months. My son also slowed down prior to the one year mark and got down to 5 nursing, which could have been 4 but he was still adamant about needing a middle of the night one. We live in a one bedroom and have always had a partially co-sleeping arrangement. I disliked pumping too, especially when I spent 3 months working full time. I did like the first one of the day as he was often too sleepy before i left at 7 am to do a full nursing, so I felt like a cow mooing to get the pressure of milk out for the first pumping. Melissa, I had the same experience with an anti-biotic where I waited it out. I will say that the bottle of pills became my safety net, knowing that if something ever went poorly over a weekend I was covered. Funny that it is still sitting there. Honestly, my biggest problem was supply related, but the opposite of most women. At times I joked that i could nurse twins, so mostly I am only able to give advice about how to deal with problematic leakage. For women who have the opposite problem or do not meet their goal for length of nursing, I understand that it is not easy and I think whatever amount of breastmilk a baby gets is a great thing. I think that any goal we set might put us into having unrealistic expectations. For example, I wanted to nurse for a year and I voiced that to others whom I felt expected B to wean immediately. LOL!!! Gradual weaning with input from both of us worked the best, hence the 17 month mark. 🙂 Hang in there to all of you and congratulations on getting this far. As we all know motherhood is not easy!

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