2.5 months & still going strong

When you're nursing a baby, you feel like your entire life revolves around two things: your boobs. My boobs hurt. My boobs feel full. Are my boobs making enough milk? Can anyone see my boobs when I nurse like this? Are those stretch marks on my boobs?! Why is my right boob bigger than my left? Why does more milk come out of my left boob than my right? Will there ever be a day when I DON'T think about my boobs? Did you know that boob spelled backwards is boob? 

And this is if everything is going normally. Add pumping breast milk, going back to work, clogged milk ducts, breast infections & other people's opinions ABOUT breastfeeding into the mix... and it's enough to consume your every thought.

But no matter how awkward/time consuming/challenging breastfeeding is, I've come to love it and look forward to it every day. It's natural and a wonderful bonding time with my little guy. When he was a newborn, he would just focus on the job at hand. Now, he'll take a break, look up at me & smile and it is the most heart warming thing I've ever experienced. He'll never have that kind of a connection with anyone else, and it makes me feel needed. 

Flynn, 2 months old
For the first 7 weeks of Flynn's life, I nursed him on demand. I never set a rigid feeding schedule. I planned my life around him. Before we went anywhere, I'd have to plan everything out ahead of time so that he would be full & happy during the outing and we'd be back before he was hungry again. When I'm not working, I still nurse on demand. I don't believe there is such a thing as spoiling a baby by letting him choose when he wants to nurse. (Did I mention we co-sleep and it makes nursing SO much easier? That's a whole other topic!)

The first 2 weeks were rough. I couldn't get him latched on correctly and I was very sore. Nursing was borderline torture at times and I would dread feeding him again. I got some pointers from the nurse/lactation consultant from The Birth Center who came to our house for Flynn's home visit and they made a big difference. It hurt less and less every time I nursed and after a few days the pain went away altogether.

I've reached a level of comfort where I can now nurse Flynn while doing other things, whether it be surfing the net on my laptop, eating a bowl of cereal, pumping on the other side... hell, I've even sat at the dinner table and nursed him while I was eating! (Anything for a peaceful meal.) I've nursed him in my car in the Longwood Gardens parking lot, in the waiting room of my doctor's office and in front of family & friends. It's convenient and the health benefits for Flynn and myself can't be topped. Oh, and it's FREE! Except for buying a few bottles and a breast pump (which isn't absolutely required), it's much less expensive than formula, which I've heard costs $1 per ounce. (Ex. Flynn has 8 oz. while I'm at work. That's about $200/month that we're saving.)
Medela Pump in Style Advanced

Working outside of the home while breastfeeding brought a whole new set of challenges. I knew when I was pregnant that I'd be going back to work and I negotiated part-time hours with my employer. I also told them very directly that I planned on breastfeeding for as long as I could and would need them to accommodate me pumping at work, which they are required to do by federal law. I'm glad I was up front about it, because I now have my own private office with a locking door, comfortable chair, desk and get two paid 20 min. pumping breaks per day. I tote my breast pump around the office with pride! Not that it looks like a breast pump... it's concealed in a black shoulder bag. (BTW, I have the Medela Pump In Style Advanced and I love it!)

Did I mention THIS gentleman is also in my pumping room at work?
My midwife warned me that going back to work would put me at risk for a few problems, like clogged milk ducts and mastitis (a nasty breast infection). And of course, she was right. My body was used to feeding Flynn on demand, and suddenly, I was only pumping for 2 short periods of time in a span of 6 hours. I started getting clogged ducts and most of them went away, but sure enough, one morning I woke up feeling like I had the flu and my right breast felt like it was on FIRE. Awful. I stayed home from work and started antibiotics. 

Big mistake. I rushed into taking drugs because I wanted to feel better, but little did I know what they would do to my precious milk supply! It dwindled. Flynn was fussy during feedings because he wasn't getting his usual amount of milk and I was struggling to pump what he needed for his bottles during the afternoons while I'm away. I was stressed out, which only made things worse. So I stopped taking the antibiotics immediately (which I know you're not supposed to do) and started taking herbal supplements to increase my supply (fenugreek, blessed thistle, mothers milk tea). I also drank a TON of water and made sure I was eating healthy foods and enough calories.

I pumped around the clock, since your body works in a supply & demand fashion (the more baby takes out, the more your body makes), and after a few days, I was back to normal. I'm still doing a lot of extra pumping after work and even in the middle of the night, but it's working! Oddly enough, I get the most milk when I pump between the hours of 1am & 4am. It has something to do with prolactin levels... ehh, I'm no doctor. 

I am more than willing to sacrifice sleep & free time to make sure Flynn always has plenty of Mommy Milk. He hasn't had one drop of formula and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. My goal is to nurse him for 12 months or longer and not start solids until around 6 months. 

Flynn's pediatrician already had the nerve to tell me, "Well, maybe you're not making enough milk." This was at his 2 month appointment, because he's a little on the small side (but not unhealthy). And I've had co-workers who know I'm pumping at work say, "Good luck, I only did it for a month before I gave up!" So encouraging...

Basically, I'm treating breastfeeding like I did natural birth. I'm determined to do it, and the more people tell me it's not going to work out, the more I want to prove them wrong. 

Why am I like this? I have no idea.

1 comment:

  1. I know exactly what you are going through and I respect it 100 percent! So many people told me, "oh, your breast feeding?" like it was shameful or when they found out how long I had been doing it, they made comments like,"That's a long time." I just finished breast feeding my baby girl a couple of weeks ago, so I'm proud to say I stuck with it for 1 whole year. It's hard, but gets easier. I did get mastitis and we got thrush. There were times where I felt like a zombie. A Tip for increasing your milk, feed the baby, and pump after on each side for 10 min. This will signal your body to make more than you actually need for when he goes through growth spurts and you need more than the regular amount of milk he drinks. Your doing an awesome job and obviously you have a healthy baby boy to see from your hard work. Good job mama!



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