My breastfeeding experience

My breastfeeding experience

It's world breastfeeding week! I started a little backwards and shared my updated post on pumping. But here is my (updated) whole experience to date. I think I could write a hundred posts on breastfeeding, so just beware, this is a little long!

Breastfeeding is hard. It can be isolating. Only you can feed the baby, unless you're also using bottles. But then you have to pump too. If you want to breastfeed, my best advice is just don't give up! Get the support you need, have tough conversations with whoever in your life isn't supporting you and tell them what's what!

Estelle's breastfeeding story: I wasn't able to breastfeed Estelle right away. With the c-section and her being taken to the NICU, I started pumping first. Over the course of her stay, we both learned how to breastfeed. I worked with the hospital lactation consultants (LC). We started using the nipple shield when she was still in the NICU. It's just a little piece of plastic, shaped like a nipple, with 3 holes at the end. The LC told us it would help her little mouth draw out my nipple and help her latch. In order to leave the NICU, we had to prove that we could feed Estelle and she could gain weight. She was being fed through a tube, and we would try to breastfeed, then we tried a bottle which Estelle loved. She would suck so hard and not breathe! We'd have to pace her a lot. When we left the NICU we were doing a combination of bottle and breastfeeding, but breastfeeding was so much harder for her. She would latch and do a little, but it was too tiring for her. 

It took several weeks for us to transition to mostly breastfeeding and away from needing a little bottle at each feeding. I was proud of myself then for sticking with it. I was happy to be breastfeeding, but I was always using the shield. The nipple shield was an extra step. I started to get more comfortable taking Estelle places by myself, going out to lunch and seeing friends.  Using the shield made it harder to nurse in public when Estelle was really upset because it would take longer. 

I believe it's crucial to have a supportive partner when you're breastfeeding. Your partner has to keep you fed, make sure you have water by you when you're nursing. Anselm encouraged me so much. He was a champ (still is) at cleaning bottles and pumping supplies when she was in the NICU. We were waking up every 3 hours to pump, and at first we were cleaning the pumping parts after each time. Then a very wise neighbor gave us GOLD advice, to put the cups in the fridge between uses, and clean every 12 hours. That made things SO MUCH easier, and we both got more sleep and functioned a little better on that crazy schedule. 

Breastfeeding #2

I am a breastfeeding advocate. I know it's not easy for everyone. I guess maybe I've had it towards the easier end? I'm not sure. I've had my challenges. It's hard work. It definitely could be easy to give up, if one doesn't have the right support system. I had support from my husband and his sisters, and our Bradley instructor. I joined Facebook groups: La Leche League & Breastfeed Chicago. I read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. My work has also been very supportive, my boss and coworkers giving me time and encouragement. Even if it was just encouragement to keep going, keep trying, and wisdom about how to make it easier. 

I hardly had to use my freezer stash I built up from when Estelle was in the NICU and my milk came in so well. We used it all up by the end of her journey though when she stopped nursing, we put it in with cow's milk to help transition her. 

I wish milk sharing was more of a thing. I know it's becoming more prevalent. I came upon an Instagram account, @oneounceatatime, a woman who makes over a gallon of milk a day. I’m not sure how old her children are, but she keeps pumping and storing her breast milk, and donates loads of it. Sounds like a superhero to me!

Breastfeeding Loretta will be in my next post

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