Adventures in Breastfeeding- Mandy

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Mandy. Here’s what she had to share:

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Ian wakes around 7am (this is a new, very exciting development, as it used to be 5:50am for like, his entire life). He plays and talks and sings for a bit, then calls out, “Mommy daddy come get me!” Usually dad goes in, changes his diaper, and brings Ian into our bed, where he will nurse, if scheduling permits, for about 30 minutes. I cuddle him and play with his hair. We talk about the day. We look at Instagram photos. It’s a lovely, quiet time to transition from sleep to play play play play play until (hopefully) naptime.
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Naptime is where the next nurse will happen (we may nurse in between, but those aren’t guaranteed, especially if we’re busy). We go into his room, change his diaper, turn on his small fan for white noise, grab his blue blankie that happens to be his receiving blanket, and have a nurse on a folded up brown futon. If he doesn’t pass out on the boob, the nap could very well not happen, but he at least has to have “quiet” time in his room for an hour while I take a break (i.e. pass out). His quiet time never is, but he does play pretty happily on his own with minimal disaster.

If a nap does happen, which it thankfully still does about 75% of the time, he will always want to nurse unless something super exciting is happening. He’ll go for another 30 minutes easy, and if he wakes in a bad mood, nursing is the only sure way to shift the energy. He is such an active child, always moving, always talking, and I see his nurse time help his body to slow, and when I talk to him I swear I can see his mind process.

The nighttime nurse. After teeth brushing, diaper change, story, kiss goodnight from daddy, Ian and I are back on the futon. This nurse also involves singing, and no matter how hard I try to bring new songs in the mix, I always end up singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Time After Time, My Favorite Things, The Sound Of Music, and Stay Awake from Mary Poppins. The last song is always Edelweiss, then a kiss on the forehead with the pronouncement, “All done with milks.” He’s awake and happy, tucked into bed, musical night light stuffed owl turned on, and mama’s out the door.
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I’ve been nursing since 1.1.11. Before my son was born, I didn’t think much about breastfeeding. My mom breastfed me and enjoyed it. I figured I would, too. I didn’t think about bottle-feeding and I also didn’t demonize it. I didn’t think about how long I would breastfeed or if I’d breastfeed on a schedule or if I’d pump and bottle feed…I was focused on living through the whole labor and giving birth part. Everything else was on the periphery.

Then he came out: A successful water birth at home after 47 hours of labor. Ian latched easily and has pretty much stayed on. He was born 7lbs 4 oz and was over 9lbs three weeks later. A well-meaning aunt said I should only feed him every three hours or he would gain too much weight. Another aunt told me if I let him nurse for longer than ten minutes per side, “There isn’t any milk left anyway, and your nipples will become raw as hamburger.” Yea, I tried that for about 90 minutes and when I couldn’t comfort him any other way, he nursed. We’re an on-demand family, my nipples are perfect, and he’s strong as an ox and in the 50th percentile for weight.

I guess you could say my story is about not having a plan. Ian didn’t take many bottles because I am lucky enough to be able to mostly stay at home. I do a bit of work from home, and when I needed to leave, he would take a bottle when he was younger, and now he’s old enough to supplement with food until I return.

Ian will turn 3 in January. He nurses about five times per day. I think about the unusualness of our nursing relationship a lot. I justify in my head why we’re still nursing (the health benefits, the unspoken comfort he receives when he can’t express to me exactly what he wants, the precious, quiet, snuggly moments we share because my high energy, boisterous kid is most often anything but snuggly). Sometimes I fantasize about weaning (long weekends away-BY MYSELF), and there’s talk about weaning once he’s potty trained (lord knows how long that will take). Honestly, and I haven’t officially committed to it, but the concept of fullterm feeding, nursing until he’s done, feels right to me. I feel incredibly sad when I read weaning stories of moms and babes who mutually loved nursing, yet stopped because “it was time.” This is not to say that I judge mamas who have a cut off date out of necessity or just because they feel done. I’m talking about mamas who love it, who mourn it, and wean because…why? Because Americans think it’s weird to nurse a toddler. Because the toddler can ask for it. Because their community no longer supports it.
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I recently heard someone say, “When we’re babies, we are encouraged to explore, walk, and talk, and for the rest of our childhood, we’re told to not touch, sit down, and be quiet.” The same goes for breastfeeding. It’s beautiful, and then your baby turns one, and it’s shameful.

So yea, I’m nursing my big old boy. He’s 33 pounds, 37 inches tall, plays soccer and baseball and volleyball and golf and thinks he’s Super Why. He asks for “Milks.” I’m not running away from this aspect of our relationship. I embrace it. I totally didn’t think I’d be the nursing toddler mom type, yet here I am. As a doula, I’m grateful I can bring my experience to the table, not to pressure anyone into breastfeeding, but to be a support for mamas who want to experience it, because it takes a tremendous amount of support. It’s usually not easy, especially in the beginning. I was lucky in terms of an easy latching kiddo and abundant supply, but I also had mastitis six times. I can’t think of anyone I know that didn’t have an issue with nursing at some point. It’s hard, and it’s easy, just like parenting.

Letting go of “the plan” has been one of the most painful lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) as a mom, and surrendering when Ian will be done nursing is part of the great mystery I’m beginning to embrace.


Mandy has also shared a video of her first nursing session. I instantly have fallen in love with her awesome family. So much YES.
You can follow her amazing blog here: Mama Mandy.

quiet afternoons

Our home has people coming and going constantly. School schedules, working days, working nights. Leaving for dance practice or to go pick up coffee. But there are a few times a week mila and I get a few hour block, just us two. For the most part she naps and I watch master chef. But sometimes I just watch her. Now Im not implying I don’t miss Lucy and Justin when they are out. I DO! but not always. Sometimes the quiet is just so darned nice.

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Babywearing Dad- Guest Post From Justin

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Jill always made babywearing look easy. When she asked me if I wanted to try out the Moby Wrap I said “sure why not!!“. It didn’t go as well as we thought it would. Mila cried and so I gave up on it pretty quickly. But she loved being in there if her mom was wearing her. And if ever Jill wanted to get a new carrier I knew it’d be a good investment cause they would use it often.
When Mila was a few months old, I offered to watch her while Jill got her hair cut. Jill kept hinting that I might want her to help me get Mila in carrier but I was reluctant. But after an hour and a half of trying to console a tired infant in a hair salon waiting area I was wishing I’d accepted the offer. When we got home I told Jill I wanted to learn how to use her ring sling so in a situation like that I’d be more comfortable going out for a walk or hopefully Mila could just take a nap.
At first I got a lot of help. I held Mila and Jill basically put the sling on us until I got the hang out of it. But once she was in there, she was a happy baby and we’d go on walks to the lake or just around the neighborhood. It was nice having that alone time with Mila. Her mom does all the feedings cause Mila wont use a bottle. And at night Mila sleeps next to Jill. It was nice having that father and daughter bonding time.
While I like our Sakura Bloom ring slings and I still use them from time to time, I’m glad we also have our Ergo Baby. It fits me well, I don’t need Jill to help me get it on and I don’t have to worry about getting the position just right. I just adjust the straps if I need to.
At first I thought needing more carriers was just excessive but now I like that we have one I primarily use, and ones for Jill to primarily use. But I still do use both.

thank you so much Justin for writing this.
Justin is wearing an Essential Linen Sakura Bloom Ring Sling and an Organic Ergo Baby Carrier
for more carriers and lots of tips and tricks check out Carry Me Away we’ve always gotten really great advice and customer service from them.

Advetures in Breastfeeding- Jasmine

 This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Jasmine. Here’s what she had to share:

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We hear all the time about the benefits of nursing; things like “human milk for human babies”, “breast is beast”, and loads of other phrases come to mind. Breast milk can heal ear and eye infections, can clear up rashes…it really is a miracle liquid. What we fail to appreciate, however, are it’s emotional benefits. I was blessed beyond reason to have nursed my darling Rocket Baby for 28 of his 33 months; twice through pregnancies, and once through a pregnancy loss. He is our only living child, though Angel Baby and Baby O are very close to our hearts.

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d share, honestly. For a long time the beauty of our breast feeding relationship was so personal, something I held close and sacred. I think, however, it’s become too important not to share: the beauty of healing that comes with breast feeding. Breast feeding through pregnancy is no joke – it is rough. There are days when I didn’t feel like being touched and those are the days Rocket Baby would hang on the teat like he would spontaneously combust if he unlatched. During my pregnancy with Angel Baby, I wanted nothing more then to wean Rocket and it just wasn’t happening.

I was devastated when we learned of Angel Baby’s loss at 15 weeks gestation, although this baby had left its tiny body around 12; we just weren’t expecting it to happen. For Angel Baby’s loss, I opted for a D&C and after, wanted absolutely nothing more then to go home to be with Rocket Baby. Just days earlier I wanted him to be wean and be independent, and at that moment I was so thankful he didn’t. Nursing him became my greatest comfort; I could hold him, snuggle him, and smell his sweet baby scent. It was amazing and it truly helped me heal.

We lost Rocket Baby’s brother, Baby O at 20 weeks gestation (though he measured about 17 weeks). By that point, my milk had dried up and Rocket Baby had completely self weaned. We did try a few times to regain my milk supply, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I realized a few days before writing this, that I may never nurse another little one. With plans to adopt and being unsure of the possibility of relactation, my experience with Rocket may just be it. There is one thing, however, that I am sure of, and that is this: what a blessing. What a fantastic blessing it has been to nurse my son for those 28 months. In that time we grew so much together and I grew so much myself. I went from being shy and awkward about nursing to being able to pop a boob in my growing toddlers mouth whenever and wherever he needed it. I became empowered.

Breast feeding is so much more then nourishing a tiny human, it’s so much more then sustenance. Whether you choose to cover, not cover, nurse for 3 months or 3 years, or exclusively pump: it’s so worth it. It’s an unbreakable bond. No matter how you choose to do it, keep an open mind. Most of all, appreciate the time; it really won’t last forever.

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Thank you so much Jasmine for sharing. You can follow her adoption journey at The Violette Underground.

Adventures In Breastfeeding- Brittney

 This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by Brittney. Here’s what she had to share:
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My odds were against me. Rushed into the operating room for my emergency C-section, numb from the epidural, I could only think negatively about my situation. “Wow.. of course it ended up this way. I am so unlucky.” I had envisioned a natural birth yet I had not mentally prepared for the pain of labor. I found myself begging for the epidural at 7cm and ended up in that crowded operating room instead of in the antique four-poster bed in the birthing center where I had thought we would spend our first moments together as a family. The C-section was difficult; the surgeons struggled to pull her out . She was not breathing after finally being taken out with vacuum assistance. Everything was happening so fast and I looked on in pain and confusion  as doctors yelled and rushed around the room. Finally I heard a cry and saw her arms and legs begin to kick the air. Instead of being placed on my chest to nurse after she entered the world, her cheek was held against mine for a few seconds  before she was taken away to be evaluated in the NICU. My boyfriend went with her and let them know that I wished to breastfeed, and to not give her a pacifier. They gave him a glove, had him hold his finger in her mouth, and they stayed that way until she was released four hours later. She was finally brought to me in the first recovery room. Unfortunately this memory is a blur.. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and had accepted the spinal morphine. I do not remember the first moment I breastfed her, but I do know she was latching and nursing instantly. We went together to the recovery room where we would spend the next three days. She stayed on my chest the entire time, nursing almost constantly. I felt overwhelmed with a sweet, sleepy, loving feeling as I looked at her nursing and falling asleep on my chest. I denied all painkillers from that point on. She nursed wonderfully. She seemed to know exactly what to do and how to do it. I still asked to see a lactation consultant because I wanted to be sure everything was going right. It took two days to finally be seen by a LC and when they saw us, they were shocked by how well we were doing on our own. As they examined my breasts and nipples a stream of milk shot out of one. “Your milk is already in!” I was dumbfounded; I’d expected to feel engorged and in pain like I’d read about. They said everything looked great, and that her latch was fine. “We never see this happen to C-section moms and babies. You’re lucky.”, they said. They taught me what to look for to make sure she was eating enough, such as listening for gulps. Sure enough, she had already been gulping down lots of milk. She actually gained a little weight while we were there! Every time she was checked out by a pediatrician they commented on how healthy she looked and how quickly she was recovering. They expected jaundice from having some blood under the skin on her head after the rough birth, but she had none. We were finally released and happy to go home. Two and a half months of exclusively breastfeeding later, it’s still  going fantastic. I dealt with some oversupply issues but it finally balanced itself out. She had already gained a pound from her birth weight at her two week appointment and is now a healthy baby (and growing out of her 0-3 month onesies!) After a traumatic birth , I am happy to say breastfeeding has been going beyond my expectations. She still nurses every two hours during the day and I enjoy every moment. I can’t wait until we reach a year and I can look back on this, and tell my story again to inspire others. Breastfeeding is the one thing that worked out for us and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
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Adventures in Breastfeeding- Kerry

This post is a part of the Adventures in Breastfeeding Project sharing mother’s unique experiences, successes and struggles with breastfeeding. This post is by my friend Kerry. Here’s what she had to share:
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My daughter Layla was very alert at birth. My midwife took her little head and latched her on within the first hour she was born. I saw three different lactation consultants before I was discharged, and they all had different techniques. I called on some of them twice to show me again.

When we got home, I nursed her on demand and latched her on often. There was a definite learning curve getting her to latch, but each time got a little easier. A few days after Layla was born a friend of mine asked if my milk came in. I said, “Yes, I think. Wait, how do I know?” She said, “Oh you would KNOW. Your boobs will get so painfully engorged and you’ll feel a let down and it will be white milk, not like the colostrum. You will hear or see her swallowing”. My friend came to see me. Sure enough, my milk had come in and I hadn’t batted an eye. I started feeling my milk let down about 3 weeks later. Around this time, I was also walking around and nursing her without having to think about it, a time when many moms are often still trying to get a decent latch.

Layla gained weight steadily and I never worried that she wasn’t getting enough, I could tell by her diapers and check-ups.

When Layla was around 2 months old, I developed a clogged nipple pore, also called a “bleb.” That hurt. I used hot compresses and nursed her on that side, gritting my teeth and trying to breathe through the whole session. I took a hot shower and let the water run on my breast. I nursed her again. That did the trick, and nursing her on that side felt sore for a few days. I can honestly say this was my only painful issue; a blip on the radar.

I had a healthy supply and a forceful letdown if I pumped, which would make Layla choke and gasp. I block fed for a few weeks and stopped pumping and things got easier on her. As she got older, she handled my let down like a champ. I barely even remembered this happened until now, as I am writing it all out.

She always had a great latch. We sailed through teeth (4 bottoms first, then 4 tops). When her top teeth came in, I did have to make sure she wasn’t lazily latched or I could feel them digging in. I would simply unlatch her and relatch if I felt them. Although she has nipped me a few times accidentally, I haven’t had to deal with biting at all.

Around 5-6 months I got the hang of side-lying nursing which allowed me to basically sleep through her night feedings. Layla just turned 1 and still nurses at night, usually 2-3 times. Some people have balked at this, but because we co-sleep I barely wake up and I never get out of bed. It is so easy and convenient, and it gives me peace of mind that she is getting enough nutrients. 226

Breastfeeding is deeply relaxing for me. I swear I can feel the prolactin and oxytocin coursing through my body when I’m nursing. Sometimes it makes me sleepy. More than once I’ve let out a deep sigh because my body just felt good. I can’t really explain it in any other way.

There really isn’t much else to report.  I’ve been very luck that breastfeeding has been blissfully uneventful for over a year now. My goal was to nurse until 1, but now that we are here I have no reason to stop and many to continue. She is on a healthy self-weaning path, which is best for both of us.

I should add that I had great support, and even though breastfeeding came easily, I still needed it at times. It isn’t enough to just get lucky that it works physically for you- you need to be dedicated and talk yourself through emotionally. It’s hard work nursing around the clock, even if it’s an amazing bonding experience. I really encourage moms to have a good support network just in case they have any trouble.

When I was pregnant, I planned on breastfeeding but truly didn’t know how much I would love it. I know that nursing isn’t always easy or possible, but I hope every mom who can do it gives it a fair chance. It can be hard in the beginning, but stick with it. It might surprise you with how wonderful, convenient, special, and simple it can actually be for both of you.
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You can follow Kerry and her gorgeous family on her blog Naturally Crazy