Hi! My name is Megan and I’m a full time working Mommy to Olivia (2 ½ years old) and Nolan (8 months old). I stumbled across Julie’s blog while perusing Pinterest (I’m addicted!) and have been following ever since. I am grateful to her for starting this series and for everyone that has shared their story. It’s reassuring to know that you aren’t the only one experiencing the ups and downs of breastfeeding.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t really give breastfeeding much thought. I had planned on breastfeeding and naively thought that it would come easily – it’s what Mom’s are made to do, right? Well, when my water broke during birthing class at 35 weeks I quickly learned that I was very wrong. Despite being early, Olivia was healthy but had trouble regulating her sugars. She was given formula right away to help remedy this and I started pumping to encourage my milk to come in. The lactation consultant showed me how to use the hospital grade pump and that’s basically where our relationship ended. I wasn’t encouraged to nurse Olivia, I don’t even think she attempted to show me how to latch her or position her. I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I didn’t think to ask questions or request another visit from the lactation consultant. We simply fed Olivia the formula provided and I pumped every 3 hours.
This routine continued once we came home from the hospital. I would pump around the clock only to get around 2 ounces of milk total. I would occasionally try to nurse Olivia but she would get so frustrated at how hard she had to work for such a small amount of milk that our nursing sessions often ended with her screaming and me crying. But, I kept pumping. And I kept getting 2 ounces of milk. 24 hours of pumping and only 2 ounces of milk to show for my efforts?! I was beyond frustrated! I mentioned my frustration at my 6 week postpartum checkup and my Doctor decided to test my prolactin levels. Turns out, I wasn’t producing enough prolactin to stimulate milk production. I had a choice to make at this point. I could continue pumping but would probably never get more than 1 to 2 ounces a day OR I could stop pumping all together. At 8 weeks, I put the pump away for good and let me tell you, I was SO much happier! I wasn’t angry or upset about only getting a few drops after being hooked to the pump for 20 minutes. I was able to enjoy every minute with my daughter without the nagging feeling that I was going to have to pump again in just 2 short hours. It was as if a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I spent the rest of my maternity leave snuggling my little peanut with a smile on my face!
Nolan is a whole different story! I was determined to breastfeed with him. And if I wasn’t able to breastfeed, I was determined to exclusively pump. Bottom line, I was determined to make more than 2 ounces of milk! This time around I knew the importance of getting help and guidance from the lactation consultant while in the hospital and I planned to take full advantage of having them there. I also talked about breastfeeding a lot with my friends who had been successful at it and I felt like I had gathered some good tips and information.
Not to be out done by his big sister, Nolan was born at 36 weeks. I started nursing him within the hour following his birth. He latched very well and it seemed that our first attempt was successful. Once we were settled in our postpartum room, I began nursing Nolan every 3 hours and I also began pumping to encourage my milk to come in. Although it was taking him around an hour to nurse, things seemed to be going well. And then we came home from the hospital….I no longer had an experienced RN at my beck and call to double check our latch and help me position the baby. My nipples got extremely sore and chapped and it was taking Nolan FOREVER to finish eating. Sometimes it would take close to 2 hours to complete a nursing session. And by the time I finished pumping afterwards, it was time to start all over again. I was exhausted and frustrated.
Right away I decided to make an appointment with the lactation consultant that had an office within my OB’s office. This was the best decision I made! She was so caring and compassionate and really took her time to help us. I also learned a great deal about why it was taking Nolan so long to nurse. He was born 4 weeks early and had jaundice. He was still developing and jaundice can create lazy eaters because their energy is being spent getting rid of the excessive bilirubin. After our visit I started nursing Nolan for 15 to 20 minutes on each side. I would then pump. If he still acted hungry, I would offer the pumped milk. Not only did this save me time but it also gave my nipples a chance to heal. As Nolan got stronger and continued to develop, it was no longer necessary to supplement with a bottle and I was eventually able to stop pumping after every feeding.
Here we are, 8 months later, and we are still going strong. He gets a bottle at daycare but he is exclusively breastfed when we are together. I pump 3 times at work and am able to get enough milk for the next day. He is loving all the new foods we are introducing and I can’t wait until he masters picking up little pieces of fruits and veggies and is able to feed himself. There were several times in the beginning when I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to stick with breastfeeding. It’s a big commitment and it falls on your shoulders. But we have such a great rhythm now and I am so thankful that I am able to provide this healthy gift to my son. Every time he looks up at me with that milky smile it reminds me why I chose to do this.
My advice to new breastfeeding Mommies is this – be patient, give yourself a break. You are learning just as much as your baby is learning and it takes some time to get to know one another. Take it day by day. There will be rough days and it’s ok if you don’t love every second of it. I promise, as your baby grows and you become more familiar with one another you will develop a rhythm. It does get better, it does get easier. Cherish these special moments because the time goes so quickly! I hope that my experience offers encouragement to those that may have been unsuccessful at breastfeeding the first time around. Thank you again to Julie for allowing me to share my story. And thank you to all the Mommies that have shared their personal stories. I really do believe we can learn so much from one another. Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
If you would like to share your breastfeeding story please email me! Be sure to catch up with the rest of the Breastfeeding Diaries series at the top of my navigation bar.