Hello! I’m Olivia, Libby to most, and I blog over at Mad Lib. I’m so excited to be a part of this series, as soon as I came across Julie’s blog and saw one of the Breastfeeding Diaries posts I went through and read them all and then emailed her because I knew I had to get in on this great thing she is doing!
Cooper was born on July 8th, 2012 at 3:23pm and by 3:30pm he was nursing! Throughout my pregnancy I knew that I was going to nurse and avoid formula at all costs. While I knew that formula would do the job and do it well, I wanted to provide my little guy with the top shelf stuff if I was able! I joined several breastfeeding Facebook pages and filled myself to the brim with knowledge about all things breast. I have always been surrounded by breastfeeding mamas so I felt completely confident that I could do it too. And what do you know, I could!
Nursing in the hospital went fantastic, Cooper latched on so easily and I was completely fascinated by just how natural it was. The first night of his life he nursed for three hours straight and I got my first taste of just how much work nursing a baby would be. On Cooper’s third day of life we got to go home, I was so sure that we had the nursing part down and as long as he was fed we were good. That night my milk came in. I went to sleep with normal(ish) size breasts and woke up to ones so big that they were literally under my armpits. I had heard and read all about milk coming in but the experience itself was unreal. I was terrified. Cooper would not latch on anymore and was screaming in frustration and hunger. I sent his dad to get formula and medicine cups because I could not let this little tiny newborn feel hungry. He drank 1 mL of formula out of a medicine cup (to avoid nipple confusion) that night and that was the last time he ever had formula!
When he was seven days old he got admitted to The Children’s Hospital of Atlanta for an infection. At this point we had gone to see the lactation consultant at the hospital Cooper was born at and I was on the verge of paying another lactation consultant to come to my home. Something wasn’t right about his latch. I knew breastfeeding was going to be painful but not like this. My nipples were bleeding and chapped and I was very close to having myself convinced that they might fall off if we continued like we were. While at The Children’s Hospital I received the greatest gift of my life in the form of a little piece of silicon called a nipple shield from the amazingly awesome and supportive lactation consultant they had on staff. I had never heard of one but was game to try anything to make this experience better than it had been thus far (I loved that dang nipple shield and we used it until two days before Cooper turned four months old!). It was also determined that Cooper needed his frenulum clipped in order to give him a better latch, so we had that done while he was still admitted at the hospital.
During the first four months of Cooper’s life I became best friends with my couch and Netflix. I watched so much Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, Parenthood, and Friday Night Lights because it took at least thirty minutes to nurse him. At right before four months old I tried nursing him without the nipple shield, he did great and his feeding time went from thirty minutes to SEVEN minutes! Prior to this he had been nursing for about fifteen minutes on each side but with the glorious seven minute feedings came a strong dislike for my left side and I am here to tell you that you can successfully feed a baby on one breast, it’s what I’ve been doing for the past nine months! I think it was at this time that I became dramatically more confident as a mother, as Cooper’s mother. I didn’t feel as chained to the house and we finally got into our groove.
I am so thankful to have had such an easy journey compared to several other mamas. I never left Cooper once until he was six months old and I had to start back school. At this point I was only taking a few classes so I would just pump twice a day which was enough to feed him one to two bottles while I was in school. Cooper is now fourteen months old and is still nursing four times a day! He nurses first thing in the morning, before his first nap, before his second nap, and before bed. I have no intentions of stopping anytime soon. I think he will most likely self-wean before two but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he won’t.
My words of advice to mamas who want to nurse are to do research, talk to nursing mamas, go see the lactation consultant as many times as you need to, and feel confident in yourself and your body’s ability to feed your baby. The most important thing is that your baby is fed, so if you can’t nurse or don’t want to, you’re still doing a great job and we’re all cheering you on.