September 5, 2015

Our breastfeeding journey


As we approach Amelia’s second birthday next week (how did that even happen!?) I’ve found myself really reflecting on our nursing relationship.  My goal was always at least a year, once she was here I had no doubts we would make it, but prior to her arrival I was plagued with worry over our breastfeeding relationship.  Would my milk come in?  Would she latch okay?  Would she get enough?  How would I feel about nursing in public?  My worries were endless.  My midwife thought it was comical that I had no worries about giving birth, but endless worries about breastfeeding…

I was blessed to have a baby, that despite being nearly three weeks early, had the perfect latch and knew what to do as soon as she was placed on my chest.  I didn’t get to experience the birth plan I had hoped for, but if I had to choose, I would 100 times over choose to have a great nursing relationship rather than the birth I had wanted.  In that respect I  am thankful.

I do have to say that our nursing relationship didn’t come without its own struggles.  The first 6 weeks I had sharp pain for the first 30-45 seconds of her latch, though thankfully, never had any cracking/bleeding issues. Her first 3 months there was a lot of worry over her getting enough milk and her low percentile weight.  Around 4 months she started only nursing 4 minutes per side each feeding, that caused anxiety as well- again I was left wondering if she was getting enough?  My relationship with my pump took time too, it was months before my boobs got the hang of it and I could pump without looking at pictures of Amelia.   Then there was my run in with fenugreek- it caused blood in Amelia’s stools that the doctors couldn’t figure out.  I eventually realized the fenugreek was causing it.  Not to mention my lack of sleep.  My formula feeding friends were having babies that slept through the night, while mine was getting up at least twice a night until 10 months.  10 months people!  Of never getting more than 3 hour increments of sleep. (She did finally start sleeping through the night at 15 months when she went down to one nap per day!).

And you know what?  It was worth every single anxiety filled, sleepless moment I experienced.  I never could have imagined the emotional bond that would come with nursing.  The comfort it gave her when she was restless or sick, and the peaceful moments it gave me with her.  Around a year Amelia began to take control of our nursing relationship, and it made my momma’s heart swell.  She would gently tug on my shirt and rub her face on me when she needed to nurse.  And when she would get up in the middle of the night as soon as I neared the glider in her bedroom she would already be leaning into her nursing position while simultaneously pulling on my tank top as we sit down.  It always touched my heart to know she loved this part of our relationship just as much, if not more, than I do.

As we moved into toddlerhood Amelia became more and more outspoken about her needs, “mommy milk” is what she would ask for.  It still astounds me that we were able to nurse until she was 22 months.  Towards the end it was more of an emotional checking in than a source of nourishment, but it was a special time. I’m thankful that in the end she chose to self-wean and it wasn’t something that was forced on me.  Once I became pregnant again is when she started down that path.

Now I have my son to look forward to nursing come February!