the post where i talk about breastfeeding.

this post, like chloe's birth story, is long overdue. it has been months since chloe weaned, however, i think that the 15 months that i spent breastfeeding her might just be blog post worthy, and perhaps interesting enough to read about, no? (well, if you don't want to read about it you don't have to). while breastfeeding i would often receive many questions, some funny comments, and only encountered a few "issues". the experiences of others found on blogs or in online forums were often helpful to me. this post is not meant to give advice, but just to share what worked well for me and chloe, as well as some very g rated boring photos of me nursing chloe.

so, i started breastfeeding chloe as soon as she was born. i can remember immediately after she was born my midwife and the nurse leaving our delivery room and being alone with my new little family for the first time. chloe was awake, and i knew she would be heading to the nursery soon to have her first shots and what not, so i decided i would give it a go. to my surprise she latched on right away. christian looked at me, was quiet for a second, and then asked "are you sure you are allowed to?" and i looked at him and smiled and said "yeah, i think so...". it sounds funny, but nobody ever told me to try feeding her or gave us any instructions. in fact while we were at the hospital there was little advice given by the nurses, other than encouragement to feed her often. the second day i was there a lactation consultant came by and gave me some pointers that were pretty helpful. i am not sure what to attribute the lack of support for breastfeeding among nurses to, but i found it funny that there was no real advice or support offered during my hospital stay. especially since as a nurse i feel very strongly about offering support and encouragement to other moms, especially when it comes to breastfeeding.

now, my family was very helpful and supportive. both my mother and mother-in-law had breastfed multiple children (sometimes multiple children at the same time!), and both of my sister-in-laws had breastfed as well. it helps to have the support of family and friends who have breastfed. it is amazing how easy it can be to question yourself when you are a new mom. you think that you have it together and know what you are doing, but when something doesn't turn out quite right, you automatically think you are doing something wrong, or that what you are trying to do just isn't going to work for you or your baby, and that you need to change what you are doing. sometimes it just takes some time, patience, and someone to tell you that you are doing a good job.

chloe was a good feeder. she grew well, and at her first pediatrician visit she was gaining weight just fine. now, the pediatricians themselves were extremely supportive and encouraging of breastfeeding. and believe me, there is something very reassuring about the pediatrician cooing "you are doing a great job. she looks so healthy". on bad days i would wish that i could have pulled those pediatricians out of my pocket.

chloe not only ate well, but she ate wherever we went. i breastfed in my car, in restaurants, at the park, anywhere and anytime she needed to eat. so convenient. it took a little while to get comfortable feeding her in public, but eventually it became second nature, her and i became pros. i learned to dress for feeding, which unfortunately for me meant no dresses (very hard to manage feeding a baby without completely undressing). feeding in public was more comfortable and easily managed by wearing a tank top, that could pull down or up, under another shirt (such as a tee or a button-up). i also always carried a light-weight muslin blanket that i could drape over my shoulder if need be. i found these light blankets didn't irritate chloe very much and could offer me a little more privacy if i felt i needed it, but once chloe and i got good at feeding we hardly needed the blanket. at first i felt kind of self-conscious about feeding in public, but eventually it was no big deal, just like it should be. if anyone else ever felt uncomfortable, i never noticed, and nobody ever said, as far a nursing bras go, i recommend bravado ones - they are super comfortable and easy to fasten and unfasten in a haste! eventually i found i could wear my regular bras again once chloe was eating more table foods and my breasts started to return to their old size. this was slightly less comfortable than the nursing bras, but offered a bit more support to my changing boobs.

now, once i went back to work i pumped. i used a medela pump in style advanced and felt it was a great pump. it came in a black somewhat inconspicuous bag and had a nice little cooler to keep your milk cold without needing a refrigerator. where i work we have a staff refrigerator and sometimes i would just put the milk into the cooler with the ice pack and throw it in the fridge. if you don't spend a whole twelve hours at work, you might not need to do this. now as far as where i breastfed, i used an empty office that i could get keys to, and that worked just fine. some places have "mother's lounges" for nursing mothers, and i think that is great. once i needed to pump in a bathroom, and that was incredibly awkward, and just felt icky.

i found that quiet and cozy places to pump were key to successful milking. i started pumping a couple weeks before i started working to build up a supply. at first i could only get a couple ounces and i thought i was doomed for pumping failure, but eventually it picked up. when i was away at work i also wasn't breastfeeding my baby as i did at home and so there was more milk available at these times. i found that my supply and her feedings evened out pretty much - meaning that if i had pumped eight ounces at work, she usually had consumed eight ounces while at home. one little tip - my pump came with a "let down" button, which was very helpful. a pump isn't the same as a baby, but it is supposed to mimic the baby nursing, so sometimes if i found that i wasn't getting as much milk i could hit the "let down" button and get a couple more ounces. i found it also helped to have photos of chloe around when i was pumping, because just looking at my baby triggered a let down.

now, other than a pump, a quiet and private place, a cute baby, and some supportive friends and family members, the only other thing i can recommend is a sense of humor. because, some people are going to make jokes about you expelling milk from your breasts. i think they do this because, well, it is funny. boobs are kind of funny, and milk coming out of them? come on, you know it is funny. but you know what else is funny? that men pee standing up. that cracks me up (maybe i just have the sense of humor of a twelve year old kid). laugh along with the jokes, don't be embarrassed by anyone, and be proud that you are feeding your baby. it is incredible that the body is able to provide all the essential nutrients for a growing human being - nothing to be ashamed of.

now about weaning. i was all for breastfeeding chloe until she was showing signs of being ready to wean. i didn't know exactly what this meant when i would say it, but when she would refuse to feed for one whole day, only to want to nurse the following, and when it got to be insanely difficult to make her nurse just so that i wouldn't be in horrible pain, that is when i felt it was time. this happened at about fifteen months. my breasts were sore for a few days, but eventually all that subsided, and chloe really didn't seem to mind. honestly, i think i was more upset about it than she was. this meant she was growing up, and just didn't need me in the same way, but it also meant we both were sleeping better at night, and that she was learning to get nourishment from table food (even though part of me did miss the late night feedings). very bittersweet. the only time i think she missed it was about two weeks after weaning. she was crying about something (like a baby, ha!), and i picked her up to comfort her and while i was sitting with her she pulled down my top, took a look at my boob and went to latch. my heart broke and burst at once, as i just didn't know what to say or do. i pulled my top up and said, "sorry my baby" and hugged her. i thought she had forgot all about it, but she hadn't, and in that moment she remembered what comfort it was to be fed by her mother. once again, bittersweet.

hope this was helpfulish. but if not, here is a link to information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which i think is very helpfulish!

*all photos are from my instragram feed (and you can follow me if you like, my username is missleahruth).

**while this post is about breastfeeding, i have nothing bad  to say about moms out there who chose not to - they are good mommas too and deserve just as much support as us breastfeeding moms.


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