Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Breastfeeding LM: Birth to 1 Year and Beyond!

Because breastfeeding has become such a huge passion of mine in recent months I thought I would share a little about my journey with LM. To get a good view of how things went we will have to start from the beginning...

In writing this post I discovered that this is the ONLY
breastfeeding photo I have for over 1 year of breastfeeding
that wasn't on my phone.
*photo was taken during a camping trip last summer!

After birth: we chose to do immediate skin to skin (Notes 1) once LM was born. I had read that this will encourage baby to latch and nurse within 30 minutes-1 hour after being born. I dont remember exactly, but I'm thinking LM nursed for the first time around 45 minutes after being born!

The first few days: while at the hospital, LM latched and nursed beautifully! I was so pleased since this was something I had really wanted to do.

The next few days: the day after we got home my milk came in... and then issues started. LM would not latch and nurse properly. I was in extreme pain from going through a difficult labor, I was on pain medications which made me groggy, I was trying to recover from everything I had just gone through and then to experience perfect nursing the first 2-3 days and then end up with this the 4th night I decided to pump and give LM a bottle. I continued to do this for the next handful of feedings. I called the Lactation Consultant (LC) at the hospital where we delivered and she really encouraged me to try and get LM back to nursing at the breast (Notes 2) because he was still young and that would really be easier in the long run. So... we worked on getting him to latch and nurse. And he did!

The first few weeks: With pumping a lot during those first days my milk came in I accidentally created a major oversupply of milk and was engorged ALL the time (Notes 3). I could get 14oz total of ONE session, and that was AFTER nursing LM. I didn't really understand what all was going on and why I was constantly engorged. I thought I had to get all the milk out to make it go away... turns out that just told my body to keep overproducing. (Notes 4) Fortunately, since I nursed on demand (which is RECOMMENDED for breastfeeding moms) (Notes 5) LM always had plenty of milk and somehow we were blessed that he never had many of the issues associated with oversupply.

At the 1 month mark: LM had been co-sleeping with us (sleeping in the same room, but in his own space) at the very beginning. Through several nights of barely being able to keep my eyes open to nurse we finally gave side-lying nursing a try (Notes 6)... and of course we ended up falling asleep like that using safe bedsharing guidelines (Notes 7). This became the ideal way to breastfeed and continued for the next few months.

Making it to 3 months: I could have celebrated with joy when we hit the 3 month mark! I had always heard that if you could make it to 3 months it got easier from there. After having experienced this for myself, I absolutely agree with that statement! As a first time mama who had never breastfed, I had many things to learn. LM was born never having breastfed either so we both were able to learn together. This creates such an amazing bond for mother and baby. There is no way words could describe this feeling! At this point I was still pumping daily (as I had been from birth) and had an enormous stock pile of breastmilk in my freezer that I wasn't sure what to do with.

Four month (12 week) growth spurt: sadly I was convinced that having my son sleep in bed with us was not good for him and we transitioned him back to his own bed around this time (I have since done a lot of research on this subject and feel that as long as you are breastfeeding, and it is working for everyone in the bed, bedsharing is the ideal thing for breastfeeding moms & babies) (Notes 8). Around this time I also discovered a quick and easy way to remember WHEN growth spurts hit (Notes 9). Its easiest to remember "They Hit in 3's". 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks (4 months). 6 months, 9 months, 12 months. As we nursed through the 4 month growth spurt I grained more confidence in my ability to feed my child, knowing that the frequent nursing (Notes 10) was completely NORMAL during the growth spurt phase. Just after the 4 month mark I decided to stop pumping as much (because I didn't need the massive amount in my freezer to keep growing!). I started pumping as needed to relieve engorgement so maybe once or twice a day.

Six months, halfway to my original goal: when I took a breastfeeding class through the hospital where I gave birth I learned about setting goals to aim for through the breastfeeding journey. My original goal was 1 year. Someone recommended having smaller goals along the way to help keep me motivated and excited about the breastfeeding journey. That's when I made goals of 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and finally 1 year. Six months felt like a huge accomplishment. Unlike many moms, I wasn't anxious to begin introducing solids so we continued to nurse on demand (Notes 11). Nursing sessions took a complete change from nursing a small baby, to nursing an active baby! LM was interested in every little sound or movement that was happening around him so breastfeeding in the living room while watching a tv show with our cat running around "chasing ghosts", as we call it, was not happening. I started doing nursing sessions with no distractions (turning off tv, putting down the phone/book) and focusing on LM during his nursing sessions. Once he drifted to sleep, which happened often during nursing sessions, I would pull out the phone/book and entertain myself quietly while he finished nursing.

Also at six months, I discovered the world of milksharing! I had NO idea there were moms who would be thrilled to have my freezer stash of milk. This was a completely foreign concept to me because I had never heard of it but I was interested! I started pumping several times a day again to bring my supply back up (Notes 12). This was tricky to do with having LM nursing on demand, but we figured out a pattern that worked for us and I got my extra amount per day up to 20oz. daily. Finding a mama-baby in need of donor milk took some effort on my part, and just when I was getting discouraged I found a full time baby to donate to who was just 3 months younger than LM and was a local mama! Milksharing for us was meant to be! (Notes 13)

Seven months, introducing foods: I was finally convinced by hubby to let LM try some solids. I had read that baby cereals were NOT a good food to start with (Notes 14) and my mom actually recommended mashed banana or avacado as a first food (Notes 15). Turns out these are both very popular first foods among many moms who chose to skip traditional baby cereals. We went with mashed banana and a few bites were about all LM was interested in. We later tried mashed sweet potato, mashed carrots, mashed greenbeans (those were not a hit!), mashed peas and the list goes on... Because I have food allergies, we introduced one food a week and waited to make sure there were no visible signs of reaction (Notes 16). Most things went well... sweet potatoes, though a favorite, caused problems as did strawberries so we have skipped both of those since. Around this time we were getting a good stretch of sleep at night lasting from 11pm-6am *most* nights. I loved it and took advantage of the much needed, extra sleep! (Notes 17)

Ten months, sleep patterns changed: LM started waking up frequently during the night. We tried bedsharing again, and for a few weeks that seemed to help... until we woke up one night and he had crawled out from between us and was sleeping at our feet!! We decided bedsharing was not a working option anymore and transferred LM back to his own space. Food intake also increased for LM. He started eating 3-4 times a day the different foods he enjoyed. At this point LM went on a nursing strike (Notes 18). This lasted about 5 weeks and was extremely difficult for me! It gave me a completely new respect for moms who have to exclusively pump (Notes 19) for their babies. Milksharing was going well! I was donating 100oz a week to my donor baby consistently since I made the match up.

Eleven months, thoughts about extended breastfeeding: since around 6 months or so I had been thinking about breastfeeding beyond one year. I started to do research on this and found that only in the US is breastfeeding past one year considered "weird", "gross", "inappropriate", "unnecessary" and I could go on... Turns out the WORLDWIDE average age to wean is 4.2 years! (Notes 20) I had no idea! Hubby had not really been open to the idea of extended breastfeeding and felt that after one year there was no point to let LM continue to nurse and that I could just pump and give him breastmilk in a bottle/cup until age 2. This made me a little worried about what the next few months would bring. I continued to do research and share with him what I found, but for the most part I didn't bring it up much because I figured he would see that LM would still very much be every bit of a baby at 1 year as he was now at 11 months.

One Year! We made it!! I was so thrilled to make it to the one year mark! And guess what... hubby wasn't even phased when LM continued his regular breastfeeding habit. It was normal and natural to continue breastfeeding at 1 year, just as it had been to breastfeed at 11 months. Hubby and I have had a few conversations on this since and thought we disagree slightly on when we think the best age to wean is I am confident that we are doing the right thing to continue to breastfeed at this point. As I approached the 1 year mark I started getting passionate about helping other moms with struggles on their breastfeeding journey. I started doing research and learning about the things of breastfeeding I've never dealt with. I ordered The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book, 8th edition which is put out by La Leche League International. I have looked into becoming a Lactation Consultant but that requires more schooling that I would be able to handle at this point in my life. I did discover that it might very well be possible for me to become a LLL Leader (Notes 21) so I have been working through their list of requirements to see if that might be a future option for me. In the meantime I have been helping admin a breastfeeding support group on Facebook and am loving it!

13 months, nursing a toddler: let me tell you... nursing a toddler is COMPLETELY different from nursing a newborn, 3 month old, 6 month old, and even an 11 month old! Gym-nurse-statics are a regular part of our morning nursing session. When I first heard this word around 3 months into nursing I thought it was ridiculous and why couldn't moms make their babies lay down and nurse?! Turns out this is normal and natural and to be expected of nursing a toddler (Notes 22). Around this time how often a toddler nurses depends on many things, for us we have consistently nursed first thing in the morning, right before nap or right after nap (rarely do we nurse at both unless he is on a growth spurt), and then at bedtime (around 6-7pm) and maybe once between 9-12 and maybe once between 3-6am. He's not terribly consistent with nursing anymore so I've had to keep an extra eye on the clock to make sure I am pumping regular to keep my supply up for my donor baby. One advantage to me pumping is I am able to give LM breastmilk in a cup throughout the day instead of transitioning to cows milk -which he has not had- or almond milk -which he sometimes has with lunch or dinner meals- (Notes 23).

14 months, that's were we are now! I am so glad we are continuing our breastfeeding journey. As LM *chooses* not to breastfeed (I still offer, and he might nurse for a few quick seconds and then get down to go play... and then I'll go pump) (Notes 24) I find I'm cherishing the moments when he does breastfeed more than the "quick snack" sessions. This is truly a beautiful thing and something that will not last forever so I will enjoy it while I can!


  1. The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact, from International Breastfeeding Centre.
  2. Getting newborn back to breast, from La Lache League.
  3. Engorgement, from Kellymom. 
  4. How Milk Production Works, from Kellymom.
  5. Nursing on demand, from LLL.
  6. Side-lying nursing, from Mother-2-Mother.
  7. Safe Bedsharing, from Dr. Sears.
  8. Co-sleeping, what every heath professional should know, from University of Notre Dame.
    -Why human babies shouldn't sleep alone, from Neuroanthropology.
  9. Growth spurts, from Kellymom.
    -Is baby getting enough? Birth-6 weeks, from Kellymom.
    -Is baby getting enough? 6 weeks-12 months, from Kellymom.
  10. Frequent nursing, from Kellymom.
  11. Introducing Solids, from Dr Sears.
    -Topics of different solids and when to offer, from Kellymom.
    -First foods for baby, by Wholesome Baby Food.
  12. Power Pumping to bring up milk supply, from Low Milk Supply.
    -18 tips to better breast pumping, from Dr. Sears.
    -Video of exclusively pumping moms that completely changed how I pump breastmilk, from Stanford School of Medicine.
  13. Finding a milk donor/donating to a baby through Human Milk 4 Human Babies {facebook} (each state has their own chapter, find the one for your state to post locally), also see the HM4HB {website}.
    -Through Eats on Feets {facebook} (each state has their own chapter, find the one for your state to post locally), also see the Eats on Feets {website}.
  14. Side effects of infant rice cereal, from Livestrong.
    -Skip the baby cereal, why solids before 6 months is not needed, from Breastfeeding Mama Talk.
    -Why ditch the infant cereals, from Food Renegade.
    -Your baby doesn't need rice cereal, from Natura Integrative Medicine.
    -Nine good reasons NOT to use baby rice, from Analytical Armadillo.
    -Dangers of rice cereal for infants, from Global Post.
    -Skip the cereal, from Breastfeeding Mamas.
  15. First foods for baby, by Wholesome Baby Food.
  16. Food allergies in babies, from Kellymom.
  17. Sleeping through the night, from Kellymom.
  18. Nursing strike, from Kellymom.
    -Nursing strike, from La Lache League.
    -Nursing strike, from Dr. Jay Gordon.
  19. Exclusively pumping, from Kellymom.
  20. Worldwide average age to wean, from The National Association of Child Development.
  21. Thinking about LLL Leadership, from La Lache League.
    -Thinking about LLL Leadership, FAQ, from La Lache League.
    -Steps of accreditation, from La Lache League.
  22. Nursing a toddler, from Kellymom.
    -Benefits of breastfeeding your toddler, from La Lache League.
    -Breastfeeding your toddler, from International Breastfeeding Centre.
    -Breastfeeding your toddler, from Australia Breastfeeding Association.
  23. Alternatives to cows milk for an allergic 1-year-old, from Livestrong.
    -Introducing cows milk to toddlers, from Dr. Sears via Parenting.
  24. Weaning, from Dr. Sears.

1 comment:

  1. This is a GREAT post!! Simon is 3 months old and I have been exclusively breastfeeding. Its had its challenges but overall I love it and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!


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