***This post is all about breastfeeding. If you are not interested in this topic, or maybe my dad or brother, feel free to not read.***
So today is not only my babe's first birthday, it's our one year nursing anniversary too. This may seem silly to some, but to me, it's a GREAT accomplishment. Here's our story.
Long before I had Winslow, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I liked the idea of not paying for formula, that it was great for the baby, and that it helped with my health as well. I didn't take any classes beforehand, didn't really ask anyone about what it was like..I just thought it was going to come natural for the both of us.
Nursing is NOT easy for most women. If it's been easy for you from day one, consider yourself very lucky. Many struggle with latching issues, engorgement, bruised or bleeding nipples, bad milk transfer, not enough milk, too much milk (yes, that's really a thing), mastitis, clogged ducts...yeah, it doesn't sound that fun.
I was lucky to never get mastitis (yet), clogged ducts, or not enough milk. We did however, struggle with latching issues. Winslow could not figure out how to latch correctly and would take 20 minutes to get it down every single nursing session. For the first month of his life, our days were consumed with nursing. He would eat for 20-30 minutes and then 1.5 hours later, start all over.
I started pumping at the hospital and would feed him my milk through a dropper. Whatever he did not eat, I would put in the fridge until next time. I remember crying in my hospital bed while feeding him with the dropper because it was so hard to nurse.
Nursing is NOT for the faint hearted. It takes LOTS of work, dedication, perseverance, tears, determination and prayer. I remember sitting on my bed just crying because it wasn't working the way I had pictured it. Winslow would cry the whole time because he wasn't getting anything, and in turn made my cry. I felt like a failure because I couldn't give him what he needed. I felt like my body was failing me. But thanks to my mom ( I LOVE YOU MOM), she persevered with me and told me it would get easier. I didn't believe her. But sure enough, it did.
One day, around a month old, it just clicked for Winslow. He learned how to latch and things got easier with each session. He would take only 10 minutes to eat and could go 2.5 hours between sessions. I felt like I could breathe a little.
Then when W was around 12 weeks old, I started back at work. I had a freezer full of milk (around 200 ounces) and was ready for pumping at work. Except that he refused a bottle after taking it just fine when he was smaller. So that was very stressful for me and my mother-in-law (she was watching him while I worked) but after 2 weeks or so, he finally took on. Thank you to my wonderful MIL for enduring his bottle strike and doing whatever it took to make sure he got milk.
So I worked part time, pumped 1-2 times at work and he would take a bottle while I was gone.
When he was 10 months, I was given the opportunity to stay at home. About 3 weeks before that, my freezer stash was long gone and I was struggling to keep up with his demand. Thankfully, we never had to supplement, but had I stayed at work we would have. It's not a bad thing to supplement. Please don't think I am not supportive of that. However you feed your babe, know that the only thing that really matters is that you love them and teach them to be compassionate, loving, and, in our family, about God's love.
We made it to 12 months of nursing without formula and I am so proud of myself and my babe. We endured bad latch, oversupply (which causes upset tummy and other minor problems for baby), and sore nips from biting (that was HORRIBLE for a few days when his teeth came in). But it was all worth it. I am forever grateful to God for allowing my body to provide the most perfect source of nourishement and bonding and I hope our journey doesn't end soon. I am planning on letting him wean when he's ready. (Unless he goes to college, then I'll probably pull the plug) ;)
If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, or just want some tips on breastfeeding, here's my two cents:
1. Take a breastfeeding class. DO IT. I SO wish I would have. It is full of great information and tips to help you prepare. I would have taken this instead of the birthing class if I could do it over again. and take your hubby too! Seth was such a GREAT support for me during this time. That's the number one thing you need in your journey: support. He was always helpful, would go get Winslow from his crib so I could sleep 5 more minutes, would run to the store for a nipple shield the first week he was born (yep) and would help me wash all my pump parts.
2. Have a good support system. It's crucial those first few weeks to have girls to text/ call/ cry to when things are tough. I had my mom, my best friend from college( Thank you Sarah!) my cousin (You're the best, Halley!) and probaly a couple others I can't remember. They really are what kept me going. It's so important to get encouragement. Especially because your freakin' hormonse are out of whack too and you cry at ANYTHING and EVERTHING.
3. Stock up on breastpads, lanolin, coconut oil, burp cloths, supplies. You can never have enough.
4. If you nurse for one week, one month, or one year..that's great. Don't beat yourself up about not nursing. Being a momma is hard enough and feeling depressed because you couldn't nurse X months or years will not help.
5. Be patient. For some, nursing is easy from day one. For others, it never gets easy. It's a huge committment but worth it. You'll lose sleep. LOTS and LOTS of sleep. Winslow still wakes up 1-2 times at night to nurse. I never get more than 4-5 hours at a time. But it's worth it to me. He depends on me completely and I find that to be so special.
I plan to nurse all of my future children and am so thankful to God that he allowed me to experiecne the bond that I have with my son beceause of this. It's not just for nourishment. It's a connection that no one else has in the world but him and I. Nursing is beautiful.