Breastfeeding: My 14th Month Journey

Breastfeeding.

To nurse or not to nurse. It's a very personal, yet very opinionated topic of discussion. I went in to breastfeeding trying to have no expectations. If it works for us, great, and if not, then that's ok too. I know many women say they feel so much pressure to nurse. I have to say, I did not. My mother nursed. My mother in law and sister in law did not. Many of my friends nursed, some of them chose not to. I just figured, our bodies are made for this, so I might as well give it my best shot. I'll tell you this much. The journey is one that needs to be shared with others as much as possible in order to help those struggling mamas hang in there for the long run! About 70% of moms try to nurse in the beginning, but by six months that number plummets.

Holy Pain!

Well, no wonder so many moms stop. Dear Lord my poor nipples hurt. BADLY. I struggled in the hospital to get my baby girl to latch. Thank goodness for the great support from the lactation department and my nurses!  Ladies, use them! They are there to help. After many unsuccessful attempts, I finally got my baby to latch on much better before leaving the hospital. Once home and my milk came in, it was truly game on. I cringed every time she latched. The good news is the initial pain wore off fairly quickly. Maybe a minute or less into the session (and yes, each session) that serotonin would wash over me and bring some calming comfort. I will say the contracting that it causes your uterus to shrink back down to its normal size, is another painful story. Then there was the after care of my breasts.  This entailed lathering with coconut oil and/or lanolin and repeat the whole process 3 hours later. I dreaded the next time she needed to eat, but I was determined not to give up because I'd gotten this far.  My nursing mama friends told me to give it three weeks for the pain to ease up. So I did, and once I made it to three weeks, I told myself let’s try for six weeks. After six weeks had come and gone I told myself six months. Well, by then it had become a piece of cake! There was no way I was going to stop nursing and start buying formula for another six months
 

Nursing and Weight Loss

If I can offer any advice on post partum weight loss, it would be not to stress about it. Stress isn’t good for your milk supply, and it is unnecessary worry. It WILL come off, just for some it takes longer than others. I am one of the lucky ones when it came to nursing and losing my baby weight.  My little one literally sucked it all off of me! It took a good 6 months for me to feel better about myself. I didn’t bounce back 6 weeks later. It came off slowly and steadily. I ended up skinnier after I had my baby then before I was even pregnant! So, if anyone needs any motivation for nursing, that right there was a huge motivator for me!  I will say I know many people that did not experience weight loss with nursing, so you can’t bank on it. You need to make sure you are making healthy choices either way when it comes to eating. Nursing made me so thirsty! I drank a ton of water, but I don’t feel like it affected my appetite like it does for others. Either way, be warned. You will be incredibly thirsty and for some incredibly hungry!
 

The Maternal Bond

I am not going to lie and say I was looking forward to having my little one latched onto my boob for a year or more. I didn’t have that beautiful picture in my mind. The bond wasn't what I initially thought about, but ladies, let’s be honest. Once you've gotten the hang of it and the pain has gone away (for me a good 6 weeks later), you suddenly develop a feeling of almost empowerment. I'm amazing. Look what I can do! My baby is thriving on milk, and not just any milk, but milk my body made for my baby. It truly is a miracle to have a child and I felt as if it was another miracle to have the capability to feed my own child! There is definitely an undeniable bond that is formed. Think about how powerful just skin to skin is. It is so much stronger once nursing comes into play. You alone are everything your baby needs. It's pretty cool!  Research has proven time and time again about how beneficial breast milk is for babies. Your body makes specially formulated milk, specifically designed for your own child based on what he or she needs.

Weaning

The end of my journey was not a sudden one, but more gradual. Fortunately, my little one didn’t get any teeth until she was almost 11 months old! Whew! Did she bite me? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes, but it was short lived. If I even sensed she might bite, I sucked in my breath really quick to brace myself and that sound alone scared her! I know many mamas that abruptly end their nursing journey when the teeth come into play, and for good reason, but this can be traumatic for baby and I don’t recommend it.  I would pump twice at work and nurse first thing in the morning, and then in the afternoon and evening when I was home.  I slowly dropped a pump session at work and then one at home. Before I knew it, I was down to just one feeding before bed.

I am grateful for the experience I had as a nursing mom. I feel I did the best I was able to do for my child, and that is what I think is most important. To do what you think is best. Regardless of your decision on whether to nurse or not, you need to remember to do what works best for you and the rest will fall into place.

 

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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.