Thursday, January 21, 2016

How I Was Able to Breastfeed for 14 Months

Tips for Breastfeeding

Hi, Friends!

Perhaps its time for an update on my personal journey with breastfeeding?  I believe it's been some time since my last post on the subject (when I shared we decided to supplement with formula ).  While I made the tough decision to stop breastfeeding last week, I can report we made it until 14 months on our breastfeeding journey!  Something I am beyond thankful to have acheived.

From day one of my education to become a Registered Dietitian I was taught "breast is best" as the sole source of nutrition for the first six months of life.  Benefits of breastfeeding (for the baby) such as a reduced chance of respiratory tract infections, allergic disease, and obesity led me to decide it was a must for my family.  I just wasn't sure what to expect or how successful I would be at the whole breastfeeding thing.

I would be lying if I told you I didn't want to give up on breastfeeding a few times during our 14-month journey.  Lack of inability to share the feeding responsibilities, physical pain (during the first month), and traveling without my little one were a few obstacles I faced along the way.  The travels away from him was probably the biggest challenge.  It would have been a perfect time to just give up, but instead, I found myself pumping in airport and hotel bathrooms to keep up my milk supply. Once I had a  woman ask me in the airport lounge if there was a baby under the nursing apron.  "No Ma'am he is at home,  there is just a breast pump under here".

I have swapped breastfeeding stories with numerous other mothers and have come to realize everyone's breastfeeding journey is individualized.  In today's post, I want to share a few reasons why I was able to breastfeed through the first year of my son's life.

1.  I sought support.  Before I even left the hospital I consulted the lactation consultant several times.  Fortunately, I had several other close friends that were also breastfeeding - so I had a network of people to call, text, or email for advice or support. Several times nursing supplies (like nipple creams) arrived in the mail from some of my best friends.

2.  I didn't put a long-term time frame on breastfeeding.  As a first time momma, I had no idea how breastfeeding would affect my life.  Instead of pressuring myself with a long-term goal, I just set shorter term goals (like months) and kept adding to those goals once they were achieved.  The achievement of short-term goals helped to build my confidence and take some burden off of the newer lifestyle.

3.  At work I scheduled pumping as an important appointment on my calendar.  When it was time to return to work the first thing I did was analyze my schedule to determine the best times to pump.  I made this a routine and let me co-workers know of this schedule.  Of course, I had to be open to those few days when my schedule didn't exactly go as planned and just roll with it.

4.  I didn't make it all or nothing.  After a few months into the breastfeeding journey, I realized my little one needed more milk than I could produce. Instead of throwing in the towel, I supplemented with a little bit of formula when needed (I can't say that we even had to give him formula on a daily basis).  This decision might have been the game changer for what I consider my successful journey.  It relieved the pressure of breastfeeding and allowed me to truly enjoy the experience.

5.  Nursing or pumping in public was not a fear.  I am a modest person, so I can't say I ever started nursing in the middle of a clothing store or on a subway train (seen both). I did keep my nursing cover with me at all times and had to use it at places like the beach, airport, and office.

6.  I never thought about how my time could be better spent.  Sure the several total hours per day I spent nursing or pumping could have been spent exercising, running errands, or socializing, but I tried not to think about these things and prioritize my son's wellbeing.  I adapted breastfeeding as part of my new "post-baby" lifestyle.

7. I used nursing/pumping as my quiet time.  While I was pumping or nursing I shut the door and shut out the rest of the world (well except my baby).  It got to the point where I eagerly awaited this quiet, peaceful time of the day.

Disclaimer: This post was written to provide encouragement to those mothers considering or currently breastfeeding.  I am not a lactation consultant or expert in breastfeeding. I understand not all mothers are able to breastfeed due to a variety of reasons.

Your Family's Dietitian,

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