This post might be too much information for some people. So just stop reading. Yes, stop. Right now. Still reading? Okay. You may continue unless you are named Dad, Jared, David, or Adam. This is mostly information I shared with a few friends about three months after Alex was born. I added what I can remember from after that but there isn't as much detail after the first few months. Hopefully this will help someone else.

My mom made me a nursing cover that wraps completely around and drapes over my shoulders. It completely changed the way I felt about breastfeeding in public. I remember nursing Alex in a restaurant when he was a week old and I was so uncomfortable because he could have pulled off the blanket at any time and I would have been exposed. That cover was a miracle. I even walked around Boston nursing him! I have heard of mothers practicing under a blanket at home. That way the baby will get used to being under it and won't try to pull it off as much in public.

Walking around while nursing (pre-nursing cover).

Alex did not have problems with needing to be burped.

Alex wasn't on any sort of schedule until he was about a month old. I still fed him on demand for about five months. Up until three months, I was still feeding him for 20 minutes of good nursing on each side. I felt like I was spending my entire life breastfeeding him. I was still a little scared to go out but then once I got out I realized I could do it. If I sat around waiting until his next feeding was done before I went out to do my errands then I would sit around all day and at the end of the day I will feel bad about myself for not doing anything. So I would just put him in the car and go. I sat in the backseat of my car in many parking lots nursing him. It's definitely a time sacrifice but nursing is worth it. If I waited around for his next feeding before leaving then that will probably be the time he decides he doesn't need to eat for eight hours. Babies know, I swear! They are like schedule ruining machines!

Pumping... Sometimes Alex would sleep for a long time and I start feeling engorged so I would pump then and freeze it. I read in What to Expect the First Year that you are never completely drained. I am not sure if this is right, but I think about it like a cell phone. Sometimes it is good to completely drain the battery (or in this case, the milk). Because Alex cannot drain me as much as the pump. I was really worried one time when Alex woke up right after I finished pumping and he was hungry. I just started him on the side that I had pumped first and he was actually fine. I switched sides after 20 minutes and then he was completely satisfied.

Mostly I have just learned that people understand that you need to feed your baby. And if they don't, then they are immature. I am allowed to breastfeed anywhere I want. I just have to ignore everyone else and pretend like I'm doing something completely normal.

Alex wouldn't latch on when he was born. They gave me something called a nipple shield. I didn't know what it was so I just took it and Alex would nurse using it. At first I was really happy then I learned that it is mostly used for people with inverted nipples (which I don't have). Alex got used to the feeling of the shield and wouldn't nurse without it. I cried for hours every day trying to get him off of the shield. I was so angry with the nurses who gave it to me. Lots of people who use a shield end up losing their milk so I didn't want that to happen and the lactation specialist told me to pump after feeding him. So I was pumping both sides after he ate. Shields also decrease the flow of milk to the baby by about 40%. So sometimes his feedings would last for an hour and a half. It was terrible. Then around three months he decided he could nurse straight on. But in the middle of the night he wasn't as willing to try. He used the shield until about 10 months old. It was not his fault though. I became attached to the nipple shield even though I don't think he needed it anymore. Later on, he liked to just hold it in his hand. Anyway, while trying to get him to nurse without the shield during the first two months, he would arch his back and kick and throw his head back and purse his lips. The "tickling" thing did not work for me at all! I noticed the more that I tried to force his head toward me, the more he would pull away. I just let him wriggle around until he decided he was ready to relax. Also, I would roll him onto his back slightly so he wasn't in the nursing position and then as soon as he calmed down I would turn him back to nurse. If he started arching his back again then I would roll him right back onto his back until he calmed down. I would lie him on the ground on his back and then lean over him. It was so uncomfortable and I only did it for a few minutes until he realized he was getting food. When he was on the ground he couldn't go anywhere to get away. Sounds like torture. Whoops!

Alex can be seen here holding the shield.

Nursing while lying down saved me. I would bring Alex into bed with me and nurse him, switch sides if necessary, then carry him back to his crib while he was still in a milk-drunken slumber. It gave me so many hours of sleep.

Alex got to the point where he hated the cover. It was a disaster to try to nurse under it so I would hope that no one was in the nursing room at church. Nursing eliminated a large portion of my wardrobe. It became necessary to have easy access clothing and some shirts just didn't make the cut. It was a fun reunion with those clothes once I started nursing fewer times in a day.

I think it was around eight months when I started having to nurse Alex in complete silence. If I started talking or if the TV was on, then he would look up and it was so hard to try to get him to latch on again.

I think I only used the boppy a few times. It never seemed to fit me right. I had to hold Alex up or slant my legs to make the positioning right. I do remember a few times when I was sitting at the computer and had him nursing while on the boppy. That only worked until he started getting wiggly though.

I made it through 14 months of nursing without a breast infection. I thought I had one at one point but the doctor said it was just because Alex was getting older and he was becoming an aggressive nurser. I had never noticed Alex hurting me though. He bit once, I flicked him, and he never bit me again.

It got much better eventually. Easier latch combined with fewer feedings made breastfeeding a breeze. I am so excited for the next baby because I know it will be so much easier this time. I am not sure how many people I flashed while trying to figure out how to nurse with a cover, but I like to think that I made a difference for Alex.

I cut down the feedings slowly. At one year, he was still nursing four times a day. Three weeks later, I cut it down to three times a day. He nursed three times a day for two weeks. Then twice a day for two weeks. I kept the morning feeding for two more weeks and then stopped completely.

For the last few months, I noticed that Alex hated nursing on my right side. I couldn't get him to stay on as long and I tried to pump to keep up the milk supply on that side. Eventually, he got to the point where he would freak out if I even attempted to put him on that side. For the last four days of nursing, he would not latch onto the right side at all. So that was how the breastfeeding of Alex experience ended.

I experienced two days of painful engorgement after I stopped breastfeeding. Strangely, only the left side was engorged, which further solidified my thoughts on having already lost the milk on my right side. Sometimes I get sad that I can't nurse Alex anymore. When he wakes up in the morning, I have to actually get up and feed him real food instead of cuddling in bed with him.

I wish I could have nursed him for longer but I could feel the wear on my body. When I was pregnant with Alex, I never got a cold or sore throat once. While I was nursing and pregnant, I got a few colds and woke up with a sore throat once a week.

The moral of the story is that I highly recommend breastfeeding. It is so convenient and it is the best for the baby. Even if formula and breastmilk were equal, I would still breastfeed just for the connection I felt to my child. The connection didn't happen immediately, but after a few weeks of cuddling my baby in the middle of the night and knowing that he needed me and no one else, I truly learned to love breastfeeding.


Bridget said...

I wish I would have written down some thoughts like this for myself with my babies. I'm glad it was a positive experience for you on the whole!

Melissa said...

Nursing was actually harder for me the second time, mostly because Ben LOVED nursing and Kate was a lot more picky about where/when/how to nurse. Nursing is definitely worth it though.

Rebecca said...

cool post. I'm glad you wrote about it, it gave me a lot of insight!

Spencer and Anna said...

I think it's always important to get personal experiences like this out there. :) Good for you! And I'm excited to see you over Thanksgiving!

Camille Elise said...

Wow. That was a long post. Very informative and good to think about in the future. I'm so glad I've got people who will tell me what to expect someday and not just sugarcoat it and say it was just so wonderful every step of the way. :)

The Paxton Family said...

Ok, so this is the third time I've tried to leave a comment (stupid phone!) So here it goes! (Btw the first comment was pretty amazing!)
I'm pretty sure almost everything you wrote about was something I generally warn pregnant women about, like nursing shields VERY disapointed that nurses hand them out to EVERYONE now! Nursing is supposed to be a little hard! Babies have to learn how, just like walking! It's not a natural reflex like a lot of people think! With that said I DID have inverted nipples w/Mak used the shield, never able to nurse well lost all my milk at 3 months :-P was given the shield w/Oscar refused to wear it and after 2 months of misery... (My first month I couldn't nurse due to an illness) am happily STILL nursing at 9 months! But I'm stopping soon cuz no matter if I flick him or yell, he still bites and he has 8 very sharp teeth!
Also nursing while laying down is a MUST! Use often!
Last, you only think the pump drains you more because at some point the pump won't be able to get anymore out so it looks like you're empty but a baby has a MUCH stronger suck and will always be able to get milk (if you are lactating!) Hence why you could still feed alex after pumping! Also did you know it's a law that you can nurse in any public area (as long as there's no indecent exposure) in every state, minus 3! And IDAHO is one of the places that it is still illegal to nurse in public! Yikes Idaho! :-P

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