Last week was National Breastfeeding week and I somehow managed to miss it. I was browsing a friend’s blog when I stumbled across a great post from a mom talking about her breastfeeding story in honor of National Breastfeeding Week. It has been some time since I last posted or even stepped back to think about my own breastfeeding story with both of the boys. I want to get these thoughts down as I’m in the present. It’s amazing, but the more time passes the more I forget little bits and pieces of Xander’s first year of life. Mainly the bits and pieces that seemed so HUGE at the time, like I weaned him from the breast, when he finally slept through the night, and on and on. I want to hold on to these memories, especially now that I have two stories to keep track of and so I write.
Breastfeeding My First Born
My breastfeeding story with Xander was completely different than it was with Noah. Xander was a c-section baby and immediately after his birth I had heart complications. Instead of spending time together breastfeeding early, I spent the first few hours going through multiple tests. The first night of his life I was monitored on the cardiac floor, so we missed out on the early nursing experiences I dreamed about. I did however demand a breast pump as soon as we were separated after his birth and used it frequently that first night. I was petrified that my milk would not come in and I would be a first time mom failure. Oh the worry a first time mom has is crazy, huh? Thankfully Xander and I were only separated from each other for the first night. I breastfed him the remainder of my five night hospital stay and he seemed to be latching okay or so I thought. A few days after coming home from the hospital, my nipples were cracked and the pain was intense! At my 1 week post-partum appointment, the lactation consultant incorrectly diagnosed Xander with a high palate. She further went on to explain that this was contributing to my nipple trauma (trauma. Before I had time to research how to correct his latch, he figured things out by himself and was nursing like a champ by 2 weeks old.
Xander nursed well during those first few months. About 2 months into my 14 week maternity leave, I started pumping to begin building a milk stash for when I returned to work. I seemed to be producing plenty of milk and took advantage of this, pumping even when he slept for longer stretches during the night. I didn’t expect that I would be able to fill an entire deep freezer stash of milk by the time Xander was 6 months old! To say I had an oversupply of milk would be an understatement. Needless to say I was able to stop pumping at work when Xander was just 9 1/2 months old (so glorious!). I was very happy to be done pumping, as I was extremely prone to plugged milk ducts, which I could never pump out without nursing.
Xander weaned himself from nursing shortly after his first birthday. My frozen breast milk lasted until he was around 13 months old. Although it was bittersweet to see my breastfeeding story end, I was proud of myself for sticking through it as a first time mom. It also encouraged me to look forward to breastfeeding in the future.
Breastfeeding Story Part II: The Second Child
After Noah was born naturally (hooray for an unplanned VBAC) he had absolutely no difficulties with latching. Other than being very, very sleepy those first few weeks of life, he nursed like a champion. My maternity leave flew by and I barely had free time to pump to have a small stash prior to going back to work, this time around. I may just have been a bit busy chasing around a toddler and caring for a newborn. My return to work sucked. I felt utterly sad those first few weeks of being away from Noah. On top of that, my milk supply was pathetic. I was barely making enough each day to keep up with Noah’s demands. On the first few days back at work, my daycare provider was giving him a lot more milk than I was making as well. What I didn’t realize was that this was her first time caring for a breastfed baby. After some education about how much pumped milk a breastfed baby drinks, we all got into a nice rhythm and I was able to just barely keep up with his needs.
All things breastfeeding weren’t sunshine and rainbows though. On my first week back to work I battled with mastitis. Several months after that, I struggled through another round of mastitis. I also had almost weekly episodes of plugged ducts. The odd thing is that most mom’s who have an oversupply of milk are more prone to plugged ducts. I struggled to make enough milk with pumping, yet still had plugged ducts. I didn’t necessarily have a low supply. Noah was feeding fine during the weekends, but body just didn’t adapt well to the pump this time. I tried nasty fenugreek and mother’s milk tea but nothing seemed to work. I was lucky if had 50-80 oz of frozen milk on hand at any one time. By the time I started weaning from pumping at work around 11 months, I didn’t have any frozen milk left.
Perhaps the most challenging part about nursing Noah has been the intense pain I have experienced during his periods of biting while breastfeeding. He got his first tooth at 6 months and went from 3 to 7 teeth at 9 months. At 10 months, he was eating solids three times a day and had 9 razor sharp teeth. At this time he started biting me. During this biting stage, I decided to start giving him a bottle at night and pumping before going to bed. Thankfully he stopped biting within a few weeks and we back to bedtime nursing. Occasionally he will bite me now if he is bored of nursing. Man does it it hurt!
When Noah was born, I had no real plan about how long I would breastfeed him. I figured I would gradually wean him once I stopped pumping around his first birthday. The funny thing is, I began weaning from daytime feedings in May and within a few weeks he was completely weaned from nursing during the day. Now he is still breastfeeding every night at bedtime and every so often during the day for comfort. The fact is I enjoy our nursing moments. Now that he is walking he rarely wants to snuggle with me, so breastfeeding gives us time to cuddle. It just feels natural and right for us and so we carry on. When my breastfeeding story with Noah does come to an end I will have no regrets.
I’m so happy that I’ve been fortunate to breastfeed both of my boys. Aside from the annoyances and pain, I wouldn’t change the path I chose with either one of them.
If you breastfed, what were some of your favorite moments? What challenges did you face as a breastfeeding mom? I’d love to hear your breastfeeding story.