I always hesitate when writing about breastfeeding topics since it is a personal subject but then I realize that talking about it normalizes it in our culture and I also hope that maybe something I write here will help another mom out in the future.
Forest and I have been going strong with nursing over these last 6.5 months! I’m really happy that we’ve been successful with it and have continued on with it. There are definitely days that I still get a little frustrated but for the most part we’re doing well and adjusting as he grows. I relish the time I get to spend with him on the weekends since I don’t see him nearly as much during the week and will happily let him snooze on me if he falls asleep during a nursing session. I know that one day he isn’t going to want to be cuddling up with his momma!
Supply: My supply has stayed steady and for that I am thankful. Despite some of the sick events that I’ve had over the last few months I made sure to stay as hydrated as I could even if I knew what I drinking and eating was going to come back up. When I returned to work back in late October I kept a Google document spreadsheet of what I was pumping every day so I could watch my supply. I abandoned this sometime in late January as it became tedious and I had a good grasp on what I would and wouldn’t pump out every day. If I pump out a little bit on the low end for a session I make sure to drink more water over the next few hours or sometimes I’ll drink the Mother’s Milk tea. I haven’t made lactation cookies in well over a month, probably pushing two months now, but I do eat my lactation oatmeal concoction several times a week. That said, I think some lactation cookies are in order and they sound good, so maybe in the next week I’ll bake some.
On the supply front I have quite a stash built up in our freezers. I recently tried to move some that I had backed up in our inside fridge and moved it to the fridge in Chris’ man-cave and realized there’s a lot more than I thought. If I had to guess 300-500 ounces? I’m not even sure. Chris had been worried about it expiring but the Medela guide we have said 3-4 months stored in a regular double door fridge/freezer, however the CDC says 3-6 months and even after is probably ok, just that the quality degrades somewhat after that. I would still like to work in the older stuff a little better than we have been, though. We typically send fresh milk to daycare, whatever was pumped within the last day or two.
Nursing Sessions: I’m still nursing anywhere from every 1.5-3 hours with Forest during the day. I continue to do it on demand and can tell when he’s getting hungry or thirsty as he gets a different kind of whine that accompanies some clinginess. Night time is different almost every week. He goes anywhere from 4-6 hours during his first long sleep session and then is up every 2ish hours after that. This actually changed up a little bit last week and I got really excited that *maybe, just maybe* we’d be inching closer to longer sleep sessions. He was doing multiple days of 6 hours for the first session, then a nurse, and I’d put him back in his playpen and I would get 3 good hours out of another stretch before I would nurse again and keep him in the bed with me until we got up in the morning. That went to crap this week as I think he’s figured out Daylight Savings Time and started being difficult to get to sleep, and started waking up a lot more frequently and not going back to sleep when I return him to the playpen after a nurse, thus sleeping in bed with us longer for the last half of the night. I don’t know, maybe he’s in the middle of another leap. I should check the Wonder Weeks app soon.
He’s a lot more fidgety and involved in the outside world while nursing, now. If Chris comes in the room and talks there’s a high liklihood Forest will unlatch and look around and chill for a few minutes before returning to nurse. He loves using whichever hand is out in front and putting it on my face, feeling my nose and mouth and sticking his fingers in my mouth if I let him. He had some sharp claws that I needed to trim up because he kept piercing my skin and it hurt! The nursing necklace I bought back in September is now coming in handy as it allows him to focus on something else instead of trying to catch my mouth with his fingers.
Forest has also started trying to help the milk out, gently patting me to get the milk to come out faster. Smart kid! I think he’s also becoming more efficient with nursing as he is acting like he’s done far faster than he used to. I’ll give him a few extra minutes but he usually pulls away and lets me know he’s done. This week he started trying to sit up from the side-lying position he usually lays in to nurse. I’m hoping this is a sign he’s going to start sitting up on his own soon. He hasn’t actively tried to pull himself up like that before.
Issues: I’m still very thankful to not have had many issues with breastfeeding. About three weeks ago I had a sore spot that I thought might have been due to a weird latch or Forest being extra rough but upon closer inspection and some Googling I realized it was a milk blister. Think of it as a zit filled with milk on a sensitive part of your body. I was able to pop it while in the shower and got all of the gooky milk out that had caused the plug up. Other than the occasional pump on the weekend to have some comfort for myself if he’s not drinking as much as I’ve produced, there haven’t been any major medical type issues related to nursing so far.
Weightloss: This is kind of related to breastfeeding in that you often hear that if you breastfeed the weight will magically fall right off postpartum. I’ve come to find out that I am *not* one of those people and that it is not necessarily true that breastfeeding aids weightloss. A lot of women hold onto some of the weight while they breastfeed. Sure, you burn more calories while breastfeeding but you have to keep up with the eating, too. It’s a bit of a trap! I noticed when I started working out more in late January that my hunger has escalated and I’ve been trying to keep up with it without going too crazy. Burning calories while breastfeeding and burning calories while working out sounds great but not replenishing enough calories and losing weight too quickly is a recipe for a supply drop, which I’m not interested in.
That said, I’m about 7 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and 2-3 dress sizes larger than pre-pregnancy. I’ve been this weight before pre-AT hike however I was wearing clothes that were those 2-3 sizes smaller. The simple fact is pregnancy changed my body shape. I’m no longer as muscle toned and am working to regain that in addition to shedding the fat layers.
Other Thoughts: As we introduce Forest to solids more my thoughts trend towards what weaning and reduced breastfeeding will be like. My goal is still to reach a full year of breastfeeding, however sitting at this position I can see myself continuing on to the 18 month mark if my supply is good. I’m unsure as of now about going further than that. There’s a lot of negative stereotypes about extended breastfeeding despite the fact that the WHO recommends continuing to the 2 year mark. I’m not sure how I will feel at 12 months muchless at 18 months and not only that I don’t know what Forest will want. Nursing is definitely a two-way street between mom and baby, and it is much more than just providing nutrition to your child, there’s an emotional aspect to it as well. Right now the thought of weaning makes me sad. I love the bonding I have with Forest. Yes, I know there will be bonding in other ways once he’s older but it is so different for me right now. I thought I had more to say on this subject but a lot of it is tied up in my emotions which can’t be written adequately right now.
Anyway, that’s my current state of breastfeeding. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’m willing to help out anyone who is having problems or just wants some support and a sounding board. I realize breastfeeding is vastly different from person to person, their experiences with their children as well as the physical and emotional aspects of it.