That's right, I said breast in the title of this blog post. And I'm not embarrassed. A few days ago I mentioned that I had millions of thoughts about nursing floating around in my head. Well it's time to get them down on "paper" so they won't keep taking up brain space. If you don't want to think about boobs and breastfeeding, don't read this. Or part two of BREASTfeeding, which will probably be finished next week. I won't be offended.
I knew that I wanted to breastfeed before I ever got pregnant. I know it's not for everyone, and that's fine with me. But I was committed to making it work. I wanted that relationship with my baby, I wanted the health benefits for her, and let's admit it...I'm cheap. I couldn't see the benefit of paying for formula if there was anyway that I could get my body to make the nutrients my baby would need. I also knew that it was a lot of work and that struggles were common. Once I was pregnant and I knew that baby was on the way, I read about latch problems, supply problems, let-down problems, problems positioning the baby, anything I could get my hands on. I was prepared to have a hard time and I had solutions ready to try.
Scout made her debut and we were fortunate that nursing came easy to both of us. So, so, so very fortunate. I think that a good part of it is luck and I know that I got lucky. Granted, I was very paranoid and went out of my way to do everything I could to keep it working well. I drank millions of ounces of water a day (and nothing else) for the first three weeks because I knew that being dehydrated can cause supply issues. I slept as much as possible because I had read that your body produces the hormone that stimulates milk
production while you are sleeping so the better rested you are the
better your milk supply is. You may not believe this, but Andrew was supportive and we went to bed every night at 9 and slept until we couldn't physically go back to sleep, usually 9 or 10 in the morning. Granted, I had to get up every 2 hours and nurse, but the 12 hours a day, dedicated to sleeping did wonders for my body's physical state (and my mental well being). We did this for the first 3 or 4 weeks. Even now we make sure to get 8 hours of sleep. Awesome right? I let Scout nurse as often and suck as long as she wanted, even if I was just a human pacifier because hey...it's soothing to her and it's helping my milk supply. Keeps us both happy. For the first three weeks, I made sure I offered my boob every two hours, except at night, just so that I could make sure and keep my production up. And let me tell you, my production was up. I felt like I was drowning, literally. But I was happy and she was very well fed.
Even with how well things were going, I was worried because I was going back to work, full-time, when Scout was only 8 weeks old. And I wanted to feed her with breastmilk only until she was a year old. To prepare for this enormous challenge, we started giving her a bottle of breastmilk a day. I started by pumping every morning after I fed her, because that's when I had the most milk. After we had a little stored, we started replacing one nursing session with a bottle of breastmilk, every day. I would pump while Andrew fed her. And we did it VERY diligently. Like even when on vacation. It sucked. But it was worth it. I don't know if it's just another piece of luck, or if it's because of our persistence, but Scout switches from boob to bottle and back like a champ. I am so grateful because I really can't imagine what my mental state would be if she didn't.
Right now, I feel like I'm doing more pumping that nursing, but I am still so grateful that I can feed Scout purely breastmilk (because I'm cheap remember?) and I am really appreciating the times that the milk goes from me to her without that blasted pump acting as the middle man. For posterity's sake, here is our weekday routine: I pump at 5am, 8am, 11am, and 130pm. I feed her myself, no pump as the middle man, when I get home at 330, before she goes to bed at 530 and then if she wakes up in the middle of the night (which only happens occasionally). Weekends, we get to put the pump away and I just feed her to her heart's (and mine!) content. Even though things are going well right now, I'm still paranoid about not keeping my production enough. I'm constantly checking ounces produced vs ounces consumed and I am on hand with milk cookie recipes, mother's milk, and herbal supplements if I need them. I am really going to try and make it a full year. I'm crazy right?
Now that we've got the technical details down, stay tuned for part 2...where you get to hear all about how my thoughts on nursing have evolved.