6 Months: My Breastfeeding Story…So Far.

I did it. 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. Evan hasn’t had a drop of formula. I am so proud of myself for sticking to it because it wasn’t always easy. And it still isn’t easy.

First, a note: While I am proud, I would never think to judge anyone for their own personal decisions about feeding their babies. There were many times I wanted to give up, and I totally understand why people do. I also know that some people cannot physically breastfeed or do not have lifestyles that are conducive to nursing and pumping (I was adopted and formula fed myself). I am extremely happy with my decisions so far, but they are my choices. You all can make your own. We’ve got enough to deal with as moms without all of this competing.

I do want to share my breastfeeding story, though. For myself and for anyone out there who wants or needs to see that we all have our own struggles.

The Painful Beginning – The First Six Weeks

E had this breastfeeding thing down from the beginning and in that way I was very lucky and had it much easier than some other moms I know. My hungry little boy had no problems latching on. And boy did he eat. 45 minute feedings every hour and a half (so basically 45 minutes on, 45 minutes off).

I, on the other hand, was having some major issues. It HURT. Like, REALLY HURT. Worse than child birth. I dreaded feeding time because I really wasn’t sure how much more of the 60-seconds of intense latch on pain and the soreness that continued throughout the feeding I could take. And I couldn’t do anything to stop it. His latch was fine. Every position was painful. It seemed to be me that was just built wrong. I read that it would stop hurting at 2 weeks. It took 5 1/2.

Mentally, I was a wreck. I was, at best, uncomfortable. I still had those crazy hormones running through me, and I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life sitting on the couch, watching Friday Night Lights, and nursing this baby while crying.

While I was so happy to have Evan, I did a lot of complaining during this period. Thank you to all of you who listened and offered advice and shared similar stories. It helped me more than you probably realize.

The Honeymoon Period – Weeks Six through Twelve

Once the pain went away, everything else started to fall into place. Evan started eating faster, and, eventually, started going longer than 90 minutes between feedings. I was able to leave the house without experiencing massive anxiety. I got comfortable nursing in public. I began to enjoy the time I was spending nursing Evan. I was also able to pump after each morning feeding and start building a freezer stash.

Back to Work – Month Four

And just as we hit our stride, everything changed (I suspect this will always be the case with parenting). After twelve weeks of maternity leave, I went back to work full-time. This meant that Evan needed to have two or three or four bottles each day and that I needed to pump.

Many days, this isn’t really a problem. I have an office with a door that locks. I can pump and sit at my computer and continue to do my work. But there are days that I am away from the office at court, in deposition, attending mediations. These are the challenging days for me. I spent one whole week sneaking out of arbitration to pump in my car in a parking garage. The things we do for our children.

I am very lucky. My employer completely supports my decision to breastfeed. And I even have the opportunity to go to Evan’s daycare to nurse him at lunch most days. This has made it so much easier.

Struggling with Supply – Months Five and Six

Once again, as soon as I hit my stride as a pumping mom, things changed. In those first few weeks, I was pumping more than enough and banking at least a few ounces for the freezer stash each week. Then my supply suddenly dropped. And Evan started eating more. Simultaneously.  I was pumping 2 ounces when Evan was eating 4. I started taking fenugreek, drinking that awful Mother’s Milk tea, and eating lactation cookies. I had to start pumping before I went to bed to make up for what I didn’t pump during the work day. I am just barely keeping up at this point, but I am keeping up and that’s all that matters. It might be extra work, but it’s for Evan so I can do it.

Going Forward

We are going to start solids now. I don’t anticipate that this will reduce Evan’s milk intake at all to start with so I am going to keep nursing and pumping. My original goal was this first six months, but my new goal is to keep breastfeeding until Evan is a year old. It is nice to know that I made it this far, and if I do have to supplement with formula at this point, it’s less of an issue.

My Advice to Future Breastfeeding Moms

  • Surround yourself with supportive people. Find a lactation consultant, a breastfeeding group, and/or friends who have been through it (I found twitter to be full of encouragement).
  • Do your research before you have the baby. I did not really do this and I wish I had. Instead, I spent HOURS googling “_____ and breastfeeding” during those first few weeks. Find a resource you like and can use as a reference (I like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and kellymom.com).
  • Don’t let the breastfeeding nazis scare you. If you have to supplement, your child will be fine. I was formula fed and I turned out to be a healthy, intelligent adult.
  • Talk to your daycare provider about your wishes. Or, if you’re obsessive like me, write a two page document about how to feed your child (you should see my pumping spreadsheet).
  • Talk to your employer about pumping. If your employer is large enough, federal law requires that they provide you with non-bathroom space to pump (although they generally don’t have pay you for pumping breaks). Explain how breastfeeding will actually benefit them, since your child is less likely to get sick, requiring you to take fewer sick days. 
  • Pump while driving. I promise this is a lot safer than it sounds. And it saves so much time on days that you have to spend a lot of time in the car. I set it all up under my nursing cover with my hands-free pumping bra, turn it on, put on my seatbelt, and drive. After 20 minutes, I pull over and take it all off. Voila.
My breastfeeding story isn’t over. I plan on continuing until one of us (hopefully Evan) is ready to start the weening process. Thanks again to everyone who has supported me in this adventure so far.

10 thoughts on “6 Months: My Breastfeeding Story…So Far.

  1. Twitter: TiBookChatter
    My son wanted none of it, but my daughter was a BF champ, but like you… oh man… it hurt like a mother! I had blisters and bloody wounds and she had teeth so early. It never stopped hurting for me though. I did the whole lactation consultant thing and they all said she was born to nurse (proper latching, etc) but she almost killed me. Seriously. That is when I got hit with Lupus and I think the lack of sleep and her sucking me dry is what triggered it from remission.

    BUT…

    Would I do it again. Absolutely! I loved being able to do that for her. When I went back to work, I pumped and I was a very efficient machine, pumping over 50 ounces a day. I had an entire chest freezer full of milk which I ended up getting rid of because she would not take it after it had been frozen. I considered donating it but they would not take it unless it was in their bags, etc.

    • I wish I had some of your pumping success. I struggle to get the 12 ounces he’s eating every day. It would take me a week to get 50 ounces!

  2. Twitter: JulieJustReads
    Congratulations! I know it was very hard and painful for you in the beginning but you struggled and made it through. I breastfeed my oldest for a year and when she did start solids, I found she didn’t need as much milk, which is nice.

    Things will always come up with parenting and looking back while the first year was a struggle, sometimes I feel like it was the easiest. :)

  3. Twitter: nomadreader
    Oh good: something to look forward to after childbirth! Seriously, I love these posts you write and email a copy to myself to keep in the baby folder I’ll re-read when the time comes:-)

    • I really wish I had done more research before the baby came. I was so caught up on the pregnancy/child birth that I forgot there were things that came after.

  4. Congrats on making it to the 6 month mark! I had the opposite experience to you. Margaret did not latch well in the beginning AND I had an oversupply and overactive letdown, which made it even harder for her. I had to use a nipple shield until she was 9 weeks, and it would always fall off and get lost in the sheets in the middle of the night. We did lots of crying together over that damn thing! After she ditched the shield, we’ve been golden, but those first couple of months were really hard. Nursing with a shield in public was out of the question so I ended up stuck at home a lot.

    Since my early problem was oversupply, pumping enough hasn’t been a problem. I’m lucky I haven’t had to stress about that. Kudos to you for adding in the extra sessions.

    I do think that far too much attention before childbirth is spent on having a “perfect” labor and delivery by mothers and everyone else involved. It is a mere blip in the life of a baby and mother, and actually caring for and feeding the child is so much more important in the long run.

    I didn’t realize I had so much to say about this! Maybe I should blog about it since I have been coming up empty on post ideas.

  5. Twitter: TheWRRedhead
    Good for you chica, and thanks for sharing your journey. I BF’d exclusively for 6.5 months before weaning my son, and it was full of the best and the hardest times of being a mom. I didn’t go back to work until 7 months, so I didn’t have to deal with pumping on the job, which I give you mega kudos for. I think that would have broken me.

  6. So great that you write about the pains of beginning to nurse. More breastfeeding advocates need to talk about that reality instead of “if it hurts you’re doing it wrong” blah. ps That is so amazing that you could see your son at lunch, how awesome (and by the way, kudos for being an attorney, Michelle!!) :) And I love your advice — beware the nazis (my son had formula for the first couple of days, while waiting for my milk) BUT I’ve never tried pumping and driving! Amazing!

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