You often hear folks say that no two pregnancies and no two children are the same. As a mom of two, I can say the only true similarity in my pregnancies was that both of my children were premies and both were early c-sections due to high blood pressure from Preeclampsia. However, from the beginning of both of my pregnancies, I knew one thing for certain, I intended to exclusively breast feed my children. Unfortunately, sometime what we intend to do as parents is not always what our bodies will allow. Here are five of the lessons I learned with my two kids.
1. Not making it to 12 months does not make you a failure
As a mom its’s not unlikely to set goals for yourself. My goal for both of my children was to EBF for at least their entire 1st year. While I have been able to achieve that goal with my daughter who is now 15 months, I only made it to 6 months with my son. I also had to supplement Soy formula for my son because my milk supply was just enough to satisfy his hunger. Jayden was feeding from both boobs and still drinking 6 oz. of formula with cereal in the bottle. After returning to work and not being able to properly pump, my milk supply started to dwindle around the 4 month mark and by 6 months my milk was non-existent. While my daughter has had the advantage of being able to be exclusively breast fed her entire 15 months, I don’t feel that my son missed out or I failed to do my job as his mother. Sometimes you can only do what your body will allow.
2. There are tools to assist when your milk starts to run low
With my son, I was not as knowledgeable about all the tools and tips that could have assisted me when my milk started to run low. With my daughter, I took a more proactive approach and started researching early so I would be better prepared. I started bringing my Medela Breast Pump in the car with me and attaching it while driving. The downside to this is that I was having to throw out the milk because I did not have a cooler in my car, but I was keeping up my breast stimulation so I could still produce milk as well as avoid engorgement during the day. I also completed power pumping sessions on my off days and weekends.
After doing some research, I found a vegetarian based supplement that had really good reviews and decided to give it a shot. A company called Birthsong Botanicals makes Let there be Milk liquid vegetarian capsules. They were easy to take and only required 1-3 a day. This helped me quite a bit with my work schedule as I would take one in the morning, one at lunch, and one at dinner.
My two favorite cookie flavors are Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip, so you can only imagine my excitement to find Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies made by Munchkin right at Target. Not only did they become my tasty little snack but I went from dwindling milk supply to painful boobs during the day again 😝
3. Your nipples will never be the same 😪
From initial latch, to constant back to back feedings, to scratching and tugging, the life of a nipple during breastfeeding can be the worst. We all know that saliva has the ability to dry out the skin. It is one reason why they advise not to constantly lick your lips. For a few months I started to experience dry and cracking nipples. It made breastfeeding painful and uncomfortable. I even ended up with mastitis as a result of avoiding breastfeeding on one side where the dryness and cracking made my feeding sessions unbearable. After careful research I found, Earth Mama Organics Nipple Butter. Not only was it great for my nipples but I was also safe for my daughter during feedings. The butter could be used on any area of dry skin as well. I started placing the butter on before feedings and before you know it my nipples started to heal and feedings went back to normal.
4. Everyone is not going to be Team Breastfeed
I am not one to care what people think but it does not mean that I want you staring in my face either. I cannot count how many times someone gave me a face for feeding Jurni in public as if I had my bare breast out. I have never been the one to just whip my breast out in public and I try to be respectful of those around me. At the same time, as a mom who currently still breastfeeds I do not limit my feedings because I am in public. I utilize a one shoulder baby cover, a blanket, or a jacket to feed my daughter. Being that she a bit older now, she has the ability to just stick her hand in my shirt or pull it down when she wants to feed. This can be weird for some folks who feel that any child who can get their own milk shouldn’t still be breastfeeding. My plan is to breastfeed Jurni as long as I can up until she is at least 2 and I know everyone will not agree with that. The key is to do what is best for you and best for your child regardless of what others will say.
5. Not all sessions will be feeding sessions and that is ok!
Jayden’s feeding session were always just that, feeding sessions because he was hungry. Jayden slept through the night starting around 3-4 months and at one point he was not even concerned with breastfeeding at all because table food had entered the picture. Jurni on the other hand is a completely different child. At 15 months, she still does not sleep fully through the night and often wakes up looking for a boob. The interesting thing is that she’s not looking because she is hungry but because Jurni is a comfort nurser. She has to hold on to you while she nurses, dog her nails in your skin, and snuggle up to you. If you take the boob away she will get upset, so I have learned to wait until she detaches on her own or she is in a deep enough sleep to unlatch her myself. Jurni can eat a full meal but look to me to nurse simply for her comfort. The comfort session is calming for her and serves as her method of bonding with me. At first I almost fell into the trap of thinking, “this is not normal” but then I realized that this is how Jurni deals in stressful or alarming times whether she fell down, couldn’t sleep, or was just irritable. Breastfeeding is a safe space for her and absolutely healthy for her development.
What have been your experiences with breastfeeding whether you were the mother or a father on the sideline? I would love to hear if any of these lessons applied to your own experience.
Until next time,