Hi there! I’m Kristin from Deeply in Love. I have been married to the love of my life, Tyler, for almost 5 years and we welcomed our first baby into the world 20 months ago – a sweet boy named Tanner. I have three “jobs” and I love them all – mom, wife, and chiropractor. I’m excited to share my story, as breastfeeding is something I am very passionate about.
Going to chiropractic school completely changed my views on health and wellness. Before going, I regularly took over-the-counter drugs without thinking twice about it and I ate terribly. My eyes were opened in a big way and I now choose to live a much more healthy and natural lifestyle. The health of my family is a huge priority to me. We eat tons of fruits and vegetables. We stay active. We don’t take medications (except when my husband sneaks an over-the-counter allergy medicine from time to time!). We get chiropractic adjustments on a regular basis. I gave birth to Tanner in our bedroom (you can read all about my decision to do that here). We do things slightly differently from most people, but I can confidently say that we have the happiest, healthiest little boy I know, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Natural health is a huge part of my life, so there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed Tanner. Tyler and I took Bradley Method classes and I read many books and articles to prepare for all that breastfeeding would bring, but honestly the most useful information came from my close girlfriends who had already been through the ups and downs of breastfeeding. One of my girlfriends lovingly told me, “It WILL hurt and you WILL bleed.” And she was right. Knowing that wasn’t abnormal was a huge help to me. I remember reading the back of the lanolin cream, where it said to contact your doctor if you had bleeding or discomfort. Bad advice. It’s normal! It happened to almost of all of my friends who breastfed, but thankfully it is only for a short time.
Like many women, I had the fear that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I read article after article, and the most conclusive studies seemed to state that over 98% of women CAN breastfeed, although there may be trials along the way. This comforted me. I was determined to be successful at breastfeeding. Obviously not everyone can be part of the 98%, but I feel so lucky and blessed that I am.
Tanner was born at home after 8 hours of labor and I remember the joy I felt the first time he latched on. He ate for a bit and as the midwife and her assistant were leaving, I remember thinking “Okay, now what?” My husband I weren’t at a hospital, so we were on our own at this point. I felt terrified, yet empowered. My midwife gave the recommendation (which I had read multiple times) of nursing every 3 hours. She recommended doing this 24 hours a day to keep up my milk supply. While this goes against the philosophy to “never wake a sleeping baby,” I truly believe that waking your baby every 3 hours to feed them is key to building a large milk supply in the first few weeks. As my midwife says, it’s all about supply and demand.
Engorgement came two days after I had given birth and I honestly thought I might die – ha! My breasts tripled in size and were rock hard (again, something that my girlfriends had thankfully warned me about). Thankfully engorgement doesn’t last long at all and although I knew it meant my milk had come in, I still wasn’t convinced. I remember getting out the pump shortly after my milk had come in to see if I really was producing this “liquid gold.” I was in tears when I saw milk (while my husband chuckled at me). It truly is amazing that our bodies can make a substance that will sustain our children all the way through their first year of life!
The first few weeks were hard. I felt like Tanner wasn’t latching right and I also felt as though he wasn’t getting any milk and therefore not gaining weight. He was latching right, I was producing plenty of milk, and our chunky monkey was off the charts in height and weight for his first few well visits at the pediatrician! I say all of this to say that it’s completely normal to feel like you aren’t succeeding in the first few weeks of breastfeeding (welcome to motherhood in general!). You will constantly question yourself and how you do things, but in the end, you are the one who knows what is best for your baby. And chances are, you ARE doing it right.
I’ve always let Tanner lead me in the breastfeeding journey. After a few weeks, he was gaining weight well, so I let him sleep 4-5 hours at night between feedings, while still feeding him every 3 hours during the day. At 8 weeks he started sleeping 8 hours at night. I would wake up in the middle of that time to pump and did that for the next few months until I had built up my milk supply. Once I started back to work, I would add 30 minute “breaks” into my schedule for pumping sessions, while Tanner would get a bottle at home with the nanny. I work only three partial days a week, so Tanner was still getting most of his milk straight from me.
Again, I let him lead me when we went down to 5 feedings a day, then 4, then 3, then 2. Tanner is now 20 months old and I still nurse him for a couple minutes when he wakes up in the morning and before he goes to bed at night. Is it unnatural? No. He’s my son and he’s been nursing since the day he was born. I honestly never thought I would be nursing a toddler at this point, but I’ve let him lead me thus far and hope to continue to do so. Every time I want to stop, I find another article about how good it is for his immune system, and I feel the urge to keep going.
In the beginning, breastfeeding is such a beautiful bonding experience. I encourage all women to at least try it, as there are so many benefits for not only the babies, but for us moms too! It’s healthy for them and equally so for us.
Breastfeeding is a selfless act. It hurts. I bled. I cried. Now, 20 months into it, it’s not “fun” by any means. If anyone has ever told you that nursing a toddler is fun, they were lying! I do it because it’s best for my son’s body. His immune system is still developing and he is one of the healthiest kids I know. I attribute a lot of that to breastfeeding. It’s not always fun, and it’s not easy, but it’s rewarding… it’s 100% (times a million) worth it.
Thank you Kristin! The closer Hudson gets to our goal of breastfeeding for the 1st year of life the more and more I realize I might not be ready to stop. Hearing that mommies and toddlers can be happy breastfeeding a little here and there gives me hope! Make sure you catch up with the rest of The Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar!