I never thought I would be the nursing and picture-taking type, but this is such an accomplishment for me. I feel so blessed that nursing is going so well and I needed to capture this memory.
I planned to breastfeed Ivy for a year. I couldn't wait to nurse and it was something I always wanted to do, but as a first time mom, I didn't prepare enough. I read very little about successful breastfeeding. I knew few moms who had ventured down this road before me. And I was pretty clueless. However, that didn't change how much I wanted to nurse Ivy. I was a fighter at the beginning.... trying to get Ivy to gain weight and latch correctly was difficult. I made trips to the lactation consultant. I breastfed, pumped, supplemented, set alarms, etc. But once we crossed that hurtle......
I wanted to be in control- I know your surprised. I wanted a plan- surprised again? This was my first mistake. From the get go, I tried to have Ivy on a schedule. Now I see that at times she probably cried wanting to nurse and I was too rigid about a 3 hour time frame that I failed to give her that opportunity to nurse and build my supply. My control and mistakes didn't stop there. I cut calories from the day I came home from the hospital. I started running when she was 8 weeks old. (Exercise and dieting both often botch a mommy's attempt to breastfeed for any extended period of time). Then I went back to work. I had plans to pump but feeling overwhelmed this too went out the window. By the time Ivy was just over 4 months old I came home from work and she REFUSED me. I am not sure if it was lack of supply or nipple confusion, but I gave up on nursing when after three days she still wouldn't latch on.
Nursing was OVER.
But I was seriously heartbroken over the next 8 months. Every time I bought formula, sad. Seeing other mom's nurse their babies, tears. Randomly longing for this special time with Ivy robbed me of my joy many times over. I knew that next time had to be different and I started preparing then for the birth of my next baby.
For 2 years prior to Tula's arrival I worked to ensure I would be able to nurse her. I talked to several friends who have since nursed without trouble. I have read a breastfeeding book and read many articles on the subject. This time I was ready. And I am proud to say, it is going wonderful. These are the things that I have done different this time to make nursing a success to this point:
1. I was pro-active. I brought a nipple shield to the hospital after I knew I had over-active let down with Ivy and this made it difficult for her to nurse once my milk came in. On day 2 in the hospital we went down the same road with Tula and the shield came in handy! I hope to wean her from this over the next few weeks.
2. I let go! Friends, I have nursed on-demand for the last almost 3 weeks. If Tula is hungry and rooting then I am feeding her. Sometimes this is on a 3 hour schedule, but there have been evenings when she has cluster fed every hour and a half. I have let her determine how long she eats (anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes on each side). This has been liberating for me. I know I am doing what is best to feed Tula, build my supply, and increase the ability to nurse for a year.
3. I am pumping after two feedings a day. I started this the day I came home from the hospital. After talking to the lactation ladies at the hospital and sharing Ivy's story with them, they decided my supply was probably never strongly established and she stopped latching on when she wasn't getting enough milk. Pumping directly after one to two feedings builds a bank of milk and it demands my body to make more milk each time.
4. I am embracing the curves of motherhood. Okay.... my boobs are HUGE for starters. But that is not the only curves I am sporting. I still have baby weight around my middle and I am not going to be sad about it. In fact, I refuse to let it get to me. The second I start seeing that as a hurdle to get back into my size 4 jeans I know I will start dieting and testing the waters of working out and that could be detrimental to my milk! This is not to say that I am still eating like a pregnant lady. I am following the weight watchers guidelines for nursing mommies. (They have a safe way to give you additional calories for making milk.... without limiting calories too much.) I will also start some light working out- yoga and walking- in the next few weeks. This is for stress relief just as much as it is for health.
5. Every time Tula eats I pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Friends, this was my biggest prayer (aside from the baby's health) while I was pregnant. I would pray, Lord, please help me to nurse without worry. Please help Tula to be a strong nurser. Please help me to allow time for nursing to get "easier" before giving up. All those prayers have been answered. Now I never want to take it for granted, so I am thankful. I am even thankful when she is up during the night. I know this is such a short time and before long she will be big like Ivy. I am embracing nursing my sweet baby!
6. I will feed her... ANYWHERE! This was a huge conflict last time. Ivy and I had to be in the perfect environment- in her nursery, boppy pillow on hand, rocking chair bound, door closed, privacy. This is not possible with a 3 year old on the go. I have gotten comfortable quickly..... nursing anywhere from the doctor's office to the backyard (we do have a privacy fence) and I am sure the places Tula needs to eat will only grow from there.
So to this date.... nursing is so far, so good!
Please know my heart on this.... this is my story. I don't believe nursing is for every mom, it is just something that was important to me. I have many great friends who haven't had the desire to nurse and there is no judgement there. Babies are babies and they need to eat~ and as long as you are feeding your baby you are a great mama!!! :)