Monday, September 20, 2010

Breastfeeding- Then and Now

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!!! :)


  1. Yay! I'm so glad to hear things are working better this time. I had a friend who had a 6-month old when my first was born. She spent those entire 6 months telling me how hard nursing was, blah, blah, blah. Well I have her to thank for my success. All it takes is for someone to tell me I can't do it and I set out to prove them wrong. I do remember those first few times in the hospital being a nervous wreck that I was doing something wrong but after that, I just let it go and did what came naturally. Even with my first time being successful, I am still more laid back this time. I will nurse just about anywhere too and that's been an adjustment for my husband. We'll be in the car and he'll think we need to go home so I can feed Sawyer. I just tell him to pull over and I'll be just fine! Again, I'm so happy everything is going so well for you this time.

  2. I can't thank you enough for sharing this and for being so honest. I told Sam the other night that if we have another child I will go about breast feeding differently. I, too, think some of Bennett's crying was as a result of not feeding him as frequently as he wanted to eat. I ended up going to pumping and giving him a mixed breast/formula bottle through out the day and I wish I were still exclusively breast feeding. However, he does still take the breast in the morning which is a nice bonding time.

    I couldn't agree with you more on all of the issues you addressed.

    I am soooooooo glad it is going well with Tula as it is such a special time to bond.

  3. Way to go! Your story is very similar to my two girls. I had to stop breastfeeding Madelyn at 14 weeks. I didn't know enough to keep my supply up, had just started a new job and was stressed, and felt like I needed to schedule her. The second time around I was able to breastfeed Caroline for 13 months. I was more prepared and also pumped every day to have a good supply built up for when I worked. Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I was just talking to Duane about your post and shared my fears about breastfeeding with him. I know so little and after reading your post I know I need to do some research! Luckily my sister is a nurse on an OB unit so she has taken lots of lactation classes..hopefully that will help! Thanks again for have the best blog for moms and moms-to-be! So glad things are going better for you this time around! :)

  5. So glad to hear that things are going well this time. I SOOO wish I had talked to you before Ivy. I too had a harder time with Naomi than I expected but I did discover the nipple shield when she was about 2 weeks. She had lost over a pound and was starving...poor baby. It definitly saved breast-feeding for me. I only

    You also will be able to get Tula on some sort of schedule soon. I try to cluster two feedings closer together in the moring and in the 2 to 2 1/2 hours and that usually works pretty well and keeps her a decent eat/wake/sleep schedule. I still do allow some flexibility though:)
    I usually try something like this for feedings....
    (and hopefully just one in the middle of the night!!!)

    And I definitely have learned to just nurse about anywhere. I keep my cover in my diaper bag and have gotten pretty comfortable with it:)

    I only wish I was not still eating like a pregnant woman!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been doing nothing for the last few weeks except for reading about breast feeding. I was NO where near prepared when Bailey was born (although I thought I was), and I had no one in my family that had nursed and was the first one of my friends to have babies, so I had no one to talk to. I ended up giving up almost right away. I felt like such a failure and it was hard for me to get over that.

    This time I hope to be more relaxed and not so uptight. I just assumed it came easily to everyone at first, and since it didn't for us then it wasn't going to work. Of course since then, I've talked to several mommies that have said it took up to a month for them to really get the hang of things. Another concern I have is something you mentioned...mommy curves. Not so much the weight around the middle, but the boob thing. I've always been very large, and of course being pregnant/nursing only increases things. I am going to be having a breast reduction (I'm currently a size G!!) after I'm finished nursing this time, and sometimes I want this so bad that in my head I'm already cutting back how long I'll nurse. I know my time will come and this will be such a great experience for both me and our newest addition, if I can just get over my hang ups.

    Thanks again for the inspiration and honesty!!

  7. Though, I barely know you- I am loving your blog! I think we share similar parenting ideas. Cloth diapering, babywearing and breastfeeding.
    I made it to 6 months with my son Caleb, but am hoping to make it to a year this time around. It has already been easier. I am glad nursing is going well for you. For me, it is one of my favorite things about having a baby. The closeness and looking down to see my child.

  8. wow- i am overwhelmed by all the amazing comments from this post!! thanks, bloggy friends, for your support!!

  9. I am so happy it is going well for you!! It went well for me up until recently. Isis now actually gets a full bottle of just formula once a day & then a partial bottle of breastmilk & formula another time. Although the majority of what she's getting in the day is still breastmilk, I cried the first day she had to have formula for one bottle. It's such an emotional thing & I definitely understand why it would be hard with Ivy & why you would work so hard to set things up with Tula. I really think you also live & learn. There are several things I'm looking back on thinking I would or could do differently the next time.

    But yay! I am so happy for you & Tula!!!

  10. I am so happy for you Sarah! It sounds like the majority of first time moms experience some type of breastfeeding frustration! I know I had my share from having an ABUNDANT supply of milk, developing mastitis a week or two in, wanting a concrete feeding schedule, milk intolerance from Ella, and inconvienent pumping. I really enjoyed breastfeeding while I was home with Ella and LOVED the closeness you get with it, but pumping in the wee hours of the morning and at every break during the school day was so hard for me! And, I knew that if I tried for a couple of weeks while at home and was successful that I wouldn't be able to just quit! Not to mention, I suffer with anxiety and knew that not going back on my medication could result in a not so happy mommy and family. :( I also had a hard time dealing with the thought of constantly being with Grayson and explaining this to Ella. I went back and forth up until my seventh month of pregnancy deciding whether or not I wanted to go that route with Grayson and after having a heart to heart with my Dr. and lots of prayer I decided to do formula. So far, it has been terrific! I prayed and prayed for God to grant me with peace with whatever decision that was made and it has been wonderful! I hope you enjoy the rest of your time at home with the girls! They are beautiful!

  11. Oh, I"m SO happy it's working out this go around - Hopefully I can hold on to the strategies you've found helpful for when I get to that stage. I love/appreciate how honest you are :)

  12. I LOVE your heart...thanks for sharing and I am so proud of you. Your girls are beautiful and so are you!

  13. I'm so glad things are going better! I thought breastfeeding was absolutely miserable but made it the whole year.. I still can't not believe it... and your sweet comments helped out sooo much! You were the only one I knew that had breastfed! I used the nipple shield for 4 months, which I was terrified about the whole time. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't stress so much about using the nipple shield, it was a life saver!


Thanks for your encouragement as I travel through this season of life called mommyhood!