I have four children, and with my fourth, I’ve gone completely different in the first year. I have always attempted to breastfeed my children, but for one reason or another, I’ve given up before returning to work. With my first two daughters I was young, 20 years old when they were born. They are Irish Twins :-). With Jourdan, my first, I breastfed but couldn’t get the hang of it. To say I was clumsy is an understatement. She was also slow at weight gain, so we began bottle feeding with cereal mixed in the formula. It never helped her weight gain though, go figure.
With my second daughter, Kayla, I didn’t try to breastfeed much longer than our hospital stay. Kayla was a huge comfort sucker, wanting to nurse for and hour and a half, sleep for 30 minutes, then nurse for another hour and a half. It was so exhausting just in the hospital, I had requested the nurses to take her to the nursery so I could get some sleep. How would I breastfeed her with my 10 month old baby at home? I quit real fast.
Our next baby (boy), Logan, came 12 years later, this time I was determined to breastfeed, but yet once again, failed. He was always hungry (and still is as a 20 month old toddler). But he never seemed satisfied, so I was supplementing pretty early, and feeling guilty about that. I bought a cheap breast pump, I wasn’t yet convinced breastfeeding would be successful and didn’t want to shell out the $300 bucks for something I might not ever use. I seriously should have stuck with the words I’ve said in my head my entire life, “You pay for what you get!”.
Yet at this, my fourth baby, nearing the 5 month mark, I am still exclusively breast feeding (though I work outside the home, she gets 100% breast milk by bottle while at daycare).
Looking back at the difference between my four children using the knowledge I’ve gained in the past nearly 5 months of breastfeeding, I can clearly understand why I wasn’t successful for my first three children, I can sum it up rather easily.
I had no support network.
#1 had latch issues. I did see an LC (lactation consultant), but the issues remained. It was just me and my baby at home trying to master the latch, and try to get coordinated doing so. We failed.
#2 had the strong desire to comfort suck. I believe my failure here was circumstances…having to comfort suck with a 10 month old to chase just isn’t going to work…maybe there is a supermom out there that has succeeded here, and to you, I say rock on!
#3 I had supply issues. They were unbeknownst to me, self inflicted. For the first three weeks postpartum I rarely ate or drank anything. By the time I was feeling good, back to my pre-pregnancy self, I was drying up. Little did I know then, there are foods and supplements you can take to boost your milk supply. Perhaps I was just throwing in the towel rather than fighting for this miraculous milk my body is able to make because of my past experiences.
#4 as I said earlier, is going strong at nearly 5 months. Interestingly enough, because of my past experiences, I had really no inclination to try to breastfeed. Upon arriving to the hospital on Madison’s birthday, I seriously hadn’t made my mind up if I would try to breastfeed once again. Yet, I tried…and not within the first hour like they recommend. She was 5 hours old when we first tried to latch, and she wasn’t even interested. Tried again at the next diaper change and this little girl latched perfectly on the first try. Perhaps all the kudo’s should go to her. So while at work I pump my milk a couple times each day to keep the milk flowing so that she can have mommy’s milk when we are apart. And what I am really proud of is the nearly 400 ounces of breast milk sitting in my freezer. I am nearly half way to my goal of 1 year, but honestly, each day I do breastfeed is a day longer than I have ever before.
I solely credit this breastfeeding success to my support system. First and foremost, my husband is supportive of my desire to breastfeed. He makes it possible by encouraging me and making sure I have the supplies I need. Secondly, my “breast friends” community on Facebook. Women who are first time mothers, women who are breastfeeding champions, all together supporting and encouraging eachother as we walk this journey together.
Next on the horizon – baby led weaning! Very excited about that. We haven’t started solids yet, and are delaying the introduction of them until around the 6 month mark. But this time rather than trusting gerber or any other commercial company to provide my baby with food, I will do so myself with whatever we are eating. She will go straight to regular non-pureed food. I’m nervous about this, yet excited and feeling a little empowered at the same time. For more information, click: baby led weaning.