In honor of World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in the US, I reached out to mom friends and asked them to share their breastfeeding stories. Believe it or not, but breastfeeding does come naturally to some! Toni shares her story of gaining the confidence to breastfeed beyond a year.
Pregnant with my first child, my OB gave my a ton of reading material including a new copy of What to Expect When Expecting at my first office visit. Being young 24, and inexperienced, I read everything thing he gave me cover to cover.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed. My mother breastfed me, my sister breastfed her children and I read you can burn up to 300 calories a day! I took eating for two literally, I ate for two grown humans! Consequently, I put on a substantial amount of weight. I still cringe a bit when I tell people I gained over 60 pounds my first pregnancy. Other than the weight, we had a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated birth.
I’m so thankful that I happened to give birth in a very small and new county hospital. There was only one other new mother in the maternity ward that day so I got the local lactation expert’s full attention. She showed me how to “sandwich” my breast so baby could get a better latch. How to use my colostrum to sooth sore nipples. Gave me lanolin. She came in every hour to be there while I learned to nurse my new baby.
I’m forever grateful for this wonderful woman, because I felt like a pro by the time my second child was born.
After being discharged from the hospital and leaving the nest of supportive nurses and staff, I felt pretty confident. Then 2 days pass and my milk hadn’t yet come in. I started to worry. I had the formula samples that were put into the “Goodie bag” that the hospitals give out. I know from reading and friend and family’s advice that supplementing could hurt my supply. I franticly called my OB and left a message with his nurse, very upset and concerned. I was so worried that my baby may possibly not be getting enough to eat. With all the emotions and hormone changes with being a new mother- I cried....
And then it came! Sweet release.
The kid was an eater! Constantly nursing, gaining weight like a champ. My OB joked that he was gaining all the weight I was losing. He in fact was! I had quit eating for two, and with the combination of daily exercise and breastfeeding, my body began to slowly recover. I kept repeating the phrase “it take 9 months for your body to get that way, give it 9 moths to get back”. It helped me to not get so down and out about my postnatal body.
When he was about 3 months old, we started having the strangest of poops. All of a sudden his diapers started containing something I can only describe as pea soup. It was so watery and green. His pediatrician recommended that we flush his system and give him Pedialyte for 24 hours to see if it clears up. Nope. Still the same, pea soup. I took to the internet and in this case, I found my answer! I realized I had been switching between breasts too frequently and he was only getting the lower calories from my fore milk. He needed more of the higher calorie hind milk. Mystery solved!
After he turned 3 months, I went back to school. There were no designated pumping areas so I would sadly have to pump in the restrooms. It was difficult and nerve wracking to keep everything clean and having to stand in a stall with my pump in a backpack on a door hook.
But breastfeeding was important to me.
I graduated when he turned a year old and started working again. I hit the one year mark! I was pretty proud of myself. I decided to quit pumping at work, but I continued to nurse when we were together. I got some pretty rude and ignorant comments from people who were aware of our extended breastfeeding journey. I refused to let it bother me and continued to do what I thought was best.
At about 18 months I decided our journey was over. I was ready for him to learn to self soothe and to go to bed on his own without the comfort of nursing. By then he was only nursing at night so I thought it was best to go cold turkey. He cried and carried on the first two nights. I hand expressed in the shower just to relieve some of the engorgement. And just like that it became a thing of the past.
I know my story is relatively simple compared to some. We had no major obstacles and it came fairly easy to me. He is 8 now and I still look back and miss those extremely short 18 months we had of cuddling and bonding, and I still feel a dose of oxytocin flood my brain.
You can follow Toni on Instagram to see her adventures in motherhood.