Perhaps its time for an update on my personal journey with breastfeeding? I believe it’s been some time since my last post on the subject (when I shared we decided to supplement with formula ). While I made the tough decision to stop breastfeeding last week, I can report we made it until 14 months on our breastfeeding journey! Something I am beyond thankful to have acheived.
From day one of my education to become a Registered Dietitian I was taught “breast is best” as the sole source of nutrition for the first six months of life. Benefits of breastfeeding (for the baby) such as a reduced chance of respiratory tract infections, allergic disease, and obesity led me to decide it was a must for my family. I just wasn’t sure what to expect or how successful I would be at the whole breastfeeding thing.
I would be lying if I told you I didn’t want to give up on breastfeeding a few times during our 14-month journey. Lack of inability to share the feeding responsibilities, physical pain (during the first month), and traveling without my little one were a few obstacles I faced along the way. The travels away from him was probably the biggest challenge. It would have been a perfect time to just give up, but instead, I found myself pumping in airport and hotel bathrooms to keep up my milk supply. Once I had a woman ask me in the airport lounge if there was a baby under the nursing apron. “No Ma’am he is at home, there is just a breast pump under here”.
I have swapped breastfeeding stories with numerous other mothers and have come to realize everyone’s breastfeeding journey is individualized. In today’s post, I want to share a few reasons why I was able to breastfeed through the first year of my son’s life.
1. I sought support. Before I even left the hospital I consulted the lactation consultant several times. Fortunately, I had several other close friends that were also breastfeeding – so I had a network of people to call, text, or email for advice or support. Several times nursing supplies (like nipple creams) arrived in the mail from some of my best friends.
2. I didn’t put a long-term time frame on breastfeeding. As a first time momma, I had no idea how breastfeeding would affect my life. Instead of pressuring myself with a long-term goal, I just set shorter term goals (like months) and kept adding to those goals once they were achieved. The achievement of short-term goals helped to build my confidence and take some burden off of the newer lifestyle.
3. At work I scheduled pumping as an important appointment on my calendar. When it was time to return to work the first thing I did was analyze my schedule to determine the best times to pump. I made this a routine and let me co-workers know of this schedule. Of course, I had to be open to those few days when my schedule didn’t exactly go as planned and just roll with it.
4. I didn’t make it all or nothing. After a few months into the breastfeeding journey, I realized my little one needed more milk than I could produce. Instead of throwing in the towel, I supplemented with a little bit of formula when needed (I can’t say that we even had to give him formula on a daily basis). This decision might have been the game changer for what I consider my successful journey. It relieved the pressure of breastfeeding and allowed me to truly enjoy the experience.
5. Nursing or pumping in public was not a fear. I am a modest person, so I can’t say I ever started nursing in the middle of a clothing store or on a subway train (seen both). I did keep my nursing cover with me at all times and had to use it at places like the beach, airport, and office.
6. I never thought about how my time could be better spent. Sure the several total hours per day I spent nursing or pumping could have been spent exercising, running errands, or socializing, but I tried not to think about these things and prioritize my son’s wellbeing. I adapted breastfeeding as part of my new “post-baby” lifestyle.
7. I used nursing/pumping as my quiet time. While I was pumping or nursing I shut the door and shut out the rest of the world (well except my baby). It got to the point where I eagerly awaited this quiet, peaceful time of the day.
Disclaimer: This post was written to provide encouragement to those mothers considering or currently breastfeeding. I am not a lactation consultant or expert in breastfeeding. I understand not all mothers are able to breastfeed due to a variety of reasons.
Your Family’s Dietitian,