Photo courtesy of Aspin Photography
I feel both fortunate and proud that we have been able to exclusively breastfeed for almost six months now. I use the word ‘fortunate’ because I personally know women who have been to hell and back fighting to breastfeed their babies. I use the word ‘proud’ because quitting was never an option. While there have of course been difficulties, we haven’t encountered any insurmountable roadblocks. For all of this, I am grateful.
Before I really started to read about breastfeeding, I set a goal to do it for six months. I figured six months is the minimum recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, so that’s good enough for me. There were three things I didn’t realize at that point:
- That if I stopped at six months, I would have to supplement with formula;
- That the hardest parts about breastfeeding typically take place in the early days and weeks;
- That I would love it so very much.
At this point in our journey, G and I have worked through engorgement, thrush, plugged ducts, elimination diets, an oversupply and a forceful let-down (and the resulting hindmilk/foremilk imbalance and lots of gas!), nursing strikes, and supply drops. Oh, and night nursing every hour for at least a month. But we’re still going strong.
I never thought I would be one of those women who got all mushy and passionate when talking about breastfeeding. But I am. I can’t imagine not doing it and I can honestly say it’s right up there with pregnancy and birth as the most rewarding experience of my life. If my body and G are up for it, there is no way we’re stopping at six months. I’m going as long as he wants.
My advice to moms-to-be and new moms would be this:
- That breastfeeding is natural, but not always easy;
- That it will get easier;
- That it is so, so worth it (for at least 101 reasons!).
Here are some of the products and resources that have been most helpful to me thus far.
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book
- The Nursing Mother’s Companion, 6th Edition: 25th Anniversary Edition
- Prenatal breastfeeding education class
- Postpartum doula services for breastfeeding support
- Breastfeeding 911 drop-in workshop
- Lactation consultant, in-home visit: This was pricey, but I was in a panic and it was worth every penny!
- Drop-in lactation group sessions: Many hospitals have a weekly drop-in window where you can meet with a lactation consultation for a small fee. For me this is ongoing. I go almost every week because it’s kind of a social thing now.
- Target nursing bras for sleep
- Bravado nursing bras and nursing tanks for daytime
- Disposable nursing pads: Not everyone needs these, but if you are a leaker, you need LOTS. Disposables are best to avoid thrush. I learned that the hard way.
- Soothies nursing pads: These are just for the early days while your nipples are dealing with the shock of all the stimulation.
- Bamboobies nursing pads: Much more comfortable than the disposable, but I would only recommend these if you aren’t a heavy leaker.
- Organic nursing pillow: I really wanted to avoid the chemically-treated mainstream pillows and I was lucky enough to receive this as a baby shower gift. I didn’t end up using it much for nursing, but it is GREAT for other baby-related uses (namely propping up my elbows and back for night nursing).
- My Brest Friend pillow and extra cover: I ordered this in a panic a couple weeks postpartum. It helped us a lot with form and latch but I didn’t need it for long.
- Nursing Cover: I only used this for the first three months. Since then, G flails until I take it off.
- Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump and a Hands-Free Pumping Bra
- Pumping accessories (wipes, microwave-steam bags, storage bags)
- Misc (nipple creams, supplements)
So that’s our journey thus far. As I said, I feel very fortunate. In another month or two, we’ll be looking to introduce solid foods through baby-led weaning. I am apprehensive for the changes this will bring to our rhythm. I’m also excited for the next step in this adventure!