Just like every new mom has their own unique birth story, every mom has their own unique breastfeeding experience and story to share. In honor of National Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to share my personal experience today.
Some moms aren’t able to breastfeed or choose not to. I want to get it out of the way to say that I don’t think one is better than the other. As long as the baby is fed and cared for, that is the most important thing.
I decided that while pregnant I wanted to try breastfeeding. I had two main reasons for this – one, so that my son could get all of the nutrients he needs from me, and two, to (hopefully) help lose weight. Unfortunately, I was one of those women who held onto the weight until I weaned, but that’s okay.
I was totally clueless as to how to breastfeed. I visited with several lactation consultants while in the hospital who did their best to help me. Once we were home from the hospital, I felt like I had a general idea of what to do.
I don’t think I could ever have been prepared for those marathon nursing days, though. My son never took a pacifier, and often seemed to be comfort nursing. However, when I’d take him off the breast (after 45-60+ minutes) he would get so upset and cry until I put him back on. This was very frustrating for me, as I felt glued to the couch, and so I reached out to a recommended lactation consultant. She felt we would benefit from using a nipple shield for a few weeks to improve his latch. It instantly improved his nursing sessions and he was much more efficient – well, as efficient as a newborn can be. Under the LC’s supervision, I was instructed to pump 3 times each day to stimulate milk production (something that using a nipple shield can interfere with). I was able to discontinue use of the nipple shield around 1 month old.
Over the next few months, things got much better. My son got more efficient and was able to nurse faster and on a bit of a routine. I also felt much more confident in my abilities and felt more comfortable nursing in public.
Fast forward to my son being nine months old. He went through an awful biting phase. I am not exaggerating when I say he bit me 30 times a day, minimum (5 times a session, 6 sessions a day). I tried many different strategies, like ignoring the behavior, getting sad, getting mad, etc. Nothing worked. I wound up trying to exclusively pump and bottle feed, which was a miserable fail. I was not pumping enough compared to how much he needed and I started to stress. I really didn’t want to quit, as my goal was to make it to 12 months and I was so close to that. I decided to grin and bear it – which really wasn’t easy. Fortunately enough, my son cut three teeth in 48 hours – and once those suckers broke through the biting stopped.
We kept trucking on until he hit 12 months. He wasn’t into nursing anymore, and our sessions were getting shorter and shorter. I decided it was time to wean. Our pediatrician suggested we try introducing cow’s milk at this time, but that seemed to have a rough side effect on his gut. So it was recommended that I continue breastfeeding for another month and introduce the cow’s milk again. At that point, he did much better with it. I had a bachelorette party to attend that weekend, so once I returned we never nursed again.
It was definitely a weird, new experience. I absolutely loved the bond my son and I had while breastfeeding. It is one of the best feelings knowing that I was able to comfort my son in such an organic and natural way. I also loved being able to provide my son the best possible nutrition and knowing that I alone helped him grow over that first year (besides the solids that we introduced). It was definitely an adjustment to snuggle before bed without nursing, but he adapted much better than I thought he would.
Another reason I was okay with weaning was because I hadn’t gotten my period back yet and my husband and I were hoping to ‘try to conceive’ soon. I weaned my son officially when he was 13 months and it took 3 months – to the day – for my period to return. I am currently expecting my second child and hope that breastfeeding goes just as well this time around!