My Breastfeeding Journey So Far

Going on 14+ months with my youngest and I'm so proud of myself for making it beyond 1 year for the 2nd time.  For my oldest we made it to 18 months and then decided it was time to wean.  I'm sure she would've been happy to go longer, but she was not the greatest sleeper and by 21 months she was sleep trained and my guess it had something to do with weaning.  My youngest is also not the best sleeper but she is also much more stubborn than my oldest so I have a feeling that weaning around the same time is going to be a challenge.

Let's talk about my journey with my second. She latched immediately at the hospital and like my oldest, it was shallow but she was still transferring milk.  My milk came in late, like it did after my first delivery, so we did supplement a little using a bottle for that reason.  We also supplemented because she had borderline jaundice.  Personally I have no problem with supplementation if it is needed or if that is what works for you and your family.  We used both the bottle and boob.  Unfortunately we had the issue that she was developing bottle preference and having to pump every 3 hours while chasing after a toddler was impossible for me.  Don't get me wrong, if you can do it, you are a rock star.  I'm sure I could've done it if I had to or if I had gotten the Willow or Elvie pumps, but I knew that I wanted to embrace breastfeeding longer.

Meeting with the IBCLC that I had also used when I was breastfeeding my oldest a few years ago was exactly what I needed to help my daughter get back on the boob.  It's funny, I still had my lactation consultant's number in my phone from 2+ years ago and I texted her at 11:00pm because  I was in a panic that she just would not take the boob at all.  She messaged me back almost immediately, remembered me, and said she would come the next morning for a session.  You know you have found the perfect lactation consultant when they will squeeze you in and remember you 2 years later.

After the initial visit I think we met maybe once or twice more, but we discovered a few things.  The first was my youngest (like my oldest) had a shallow latch, but because it wasn't hurting me and she was transferring milk, it wasn't that big of an issue.  The second thing she noticed was that she had a tongue and lip tie (same as my oldest again), but for my youngest, she would click and swallow air.  One thing to note, not all IBCLC's are tie savvy and able to evaluate a tongue and lip tie.  She also could see the tightness in my daughter's side because she favored nursing on one side and turned her head one way more than the other.  She recommended having the ties revised as well as cranio-sacral therapy, which we did as well.

As for the "boob strike" my daughter was on.  We did a couple things, we tried to adjust her latch, but she was getting frustrated because when you breastfeed, your baby has to work.  When you bottle feed, even if you pace feed, your baby doesn't have to work as hard for their food.  We did a little bit of finger feeding.  If you don't know what finger feeding is, it is basically a very thing tube that you attach to your finger and feed your baby that way.  It gets them used to having to work for their milk and is similar to breastfeeding versus bottle feeding.  We tried that a few times and it worked but our pediatrician said that she would get confused and to drop finger feeding and just use the boob.

Well, that was easier said than done.  She was hungry and wanted to eat fast and didn't want to work.  One other idea my lactation consultant suggested was to follow a "quick switch" technique.  You start out by feeding the bottle and as the baby is drinking (when your let down is triggered) switch to the breast.  This method actually worked and I didn't always have to switch when let down was triggered because most of the time that required her to nurse for a little to happen.

My breastfeeding journey I am sure is different than yours if you are nursing.  I know a lot of mom's that are successful with formula feeding and that is wonderful.  As long as your baby is fed that is all that matters.  I also pumped once a day for 7 months to keep my supply up, but once we realized that my baby would no longer take the bottle at all, I stopped because the milk was going to waste and was only going to now be used for milk baths.

One other thing to note, I had to cut out diary from my diet for 6 months.  It wasn't as severe an intolerance as it was with my first.  I slowly brought it back and it really only was a problem if I had milk in cereal or something with a heavy cheese sauce.  I was lucky there.  At 6 months when she started solids the intolerance went a way -- which isn't always the case.

Also, if you don't know this, when you are breastfeeding your body doesn't make as much estrogen so if you had a natural delivery it will take longer for you to heal.

Tips & Tricks

1. No two experiences are the same.  Even my experiences with both my kids were different.

2. Meet with an IBCLC.  Have them come to your house to see you in your own setting.  Insurance usually covers a certain number of visits.

3. If you can't breastfeed know that it is okay.  Nobody is judging you.  Your baby loves you no matter what and as long as they are fed, they are happy.

4. Insurance will cover a breast pump.  First time mom's I recommend the Spectra S1 because it can be used on and off the power cord (it is has a battery).  It may cost extra, but it is worth it.  If you already have a Spectra, I would recommend the Willow or Elvie.  I don't have them, but I wish I did.

Hope this helps some of you out there with your journey.  Just remember.  You do what is best for you and your baby, not what someone tells you to do.

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