Thoughts on Breastfeeding

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Exactly one week before her first birthday we are done nursing. After months of me having doubts about my supply levels and trying to make it happen….to reach my personal goal of nursing until at least a year, she decided for me that we were finished. This makes me irrationally sad…I am proud we made it this long, and I commend all moms who try and BF as long as they can and I commend all moms who formula feed for many reasons….I did not expect to be sad about this day. I am only writing about it because it feels surreal to me, and that maybe somewhere there is another mother out there who can benefit from knowing she is not alone in her feelings. So lets back up…to the very beginning.

Pre-pregnancy: I had no desire to be pregnant, and full intention to adopt. I love babies, but giving birth to them was just not something I craved. Because of that expectation I never expected to ever have to even think about nursing. Even after deciding we were indeed going to try and conceive prior to looking into adoption more, Breastfeeding was not something on the front of my radar.

Pregnancy: I felt bombarded with information about nursing. The benefits, the judgment of those who don’t, the messages of trying to normalize it, but I still didn’t feel like it was something that I would ever be passionate or emotionally involved in. I was quick to defend those who formula feed and while I knew I would try and nurse for the sake of my child, it was never something that I was fully committed to.

Newborn: Hello oversupply! The first weeks were hard, constantly correcting the latch, leaking all over the place, and actually nursing was painful, not enjoyable, …and what I would have done for more then a hour of sleep at a time…but I had decided that I would give nursing 6 weeks, and go from there. 6 weeks came and by then it got easier….still dealt with oversupply, but learned patterns that helped even things out and pumping became routine, I was able to pump enough for our needs and donate monthly to a little boy who was having a hard time digesting formula and his mom had really wanted to give him breastmilk that she couldn’t provide. (if you would like to donate please contact your local milkbank or Human Milk 4 Human Babies )

6 months old: Pumping stopped working….no mater how long or how often I would pump, I could never pump more then 1oz….this was also about the time nursing started to be more bonding, something I finally can even say I cherished. It helped that I was getting up to 4 or 5 hours of sleep at a time….maybe that was part of the beginning of the end. Either way, not being able to pump I think did make me care more about trying to make it to the goal of a year.

9 Months old: I began to question my supply…there were a few things going on…like a constantly hungry child, even with eating more solids the number of nursing sessions was going up during the day not down, she also was getting constipated a LOT. I no longer felt engorged, even when away from her for more then just a couple hours. I posted the following on a mom’s group after about 3 or 4 weeks of these observations.

Question for breastfeeding moms or finished breastfeeding moms: How do you know when you have stopped producing. Nursing has been challenging lately, with teething and distractions and eating more solids….its been about a week of her hardly eating on either side before bed and acting like she is still hungry (crying if I take her off, but just playing or coming off every two seconds when trying to nurse)…and today just out of curiosity gave her a bottle after she was “done”…and she drank almost all of it…. I stopped pumping months ago because my body stopped reacting to the pump….does this mean we are done BF? Should I bother trying things like nursing tea/fennel if I’m not sure if I am producing anything? Wanted to make it to year…but not sure what’s going on

11.5 Months: After doing everything I could short of medication to encourage nursing (nursing more often, drinking nursing teas, applying fennel, cutting back solids etc ) it just seemed to make me stressed and R more upset and grumpy I decided it was time to let my body and my child decide if we were done and not push it anymore. I stopped offering unless she asked, I let her have that full bottle after nursing if she still seemed hungry, and that brings us to today…

Over the last 2 weeks she has rarely indicated a want/need to nurse, only comfort nursing before naps(a whole lot of sucking and zero swallowing) she started to even refuse those. Saturday. A week before her first birthday, she did not want to nurse at all….I didn’t get engorged, or even feel ‘full’ instead I felt sad. I know I should feel proud and happy about making it to a year, but I feel more surprised and uncomfortable. I realize I had an assumption that nursing would either come “naturally” and last as long as there was a child to nurse, you hear the stories of the moms who are still nursing their 2 and 3 year olds, or it wouldn’t and you would have come to terms with not nursing in the first number of weeks. I somehow expected it feel more like I had a choice in the matter then my body and my baby deciding without me at this point.  It was an odd feeling today getting up and putting on a regular bra…in a size I haven’t worn in close to 2 years and it fitting, putting on a top that wasn’t specifically chosen to be able to pull down easily at a moments notice. A part of me is eager to have my body back…but I feel like I don’t recognize it either, and I am glad that weaning seems like its not going to be a bad experience….and I am not sure I am fully ready to admit my daughter no longer needs that intimate nourishment in the same way as has sustained her until now. IMG_0373_edited-1

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