My Breastfeeding Journey

On July 24th it will officially be six months since I gave birth to Natalie. I can state the obvious and say ” a lot has happened since this time last year”, but I think that goes without saying. What I can do is reflect on the changes not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Birthing a baby changes you and raising one tests and strengthens you.

My recovery post partum was uneventful. I bled, I cried, I cuddled; which is what to be expected. I had a week with my husband at home and his parents stayed with us that week as well. Once that week was over I was suddenly alone. My husband went back to work, in laws went home and Natalie and I were tucked away safely at home getting to know each other. One of my favorite memories was waking up and we had several inches of snow on the ground. I made myself some tea and laid in bed holding my daughter watching the snow fall for hours. It was calm, peaceful and beautiful. I’ll always cherish that memory.
My breast feeding journey had ups and downs. I had a breast reduction when I was 19 years old. At the time my surgeon informed me that, in future, if I were to choose to have children we will not know if I could breastfeed until the time came. I don’t regret my decision to go through with the surgery and, as young as I was, I didn’t give that warning a second thought. Late in my pregnancy I was hopeful that it would be something I could do because I actually was successful in self expressing colostrum from both of my breasts. My intention throughout my pregnancy was to breastfeed, but I kept an open mind and was ok if it was not in the cards. Before my hospital stay was up (6 days total) I was supplementing with formula. I used the SNS method to feed Natalie so she was still latched to my breast and pumped in between feedings. She was a champ right away. Aside from my low production of liquid gold – breastfeeding was a breeze. Shortly after returning home I began taking supplements such as Brewers Yeast, Moringa Pure, Sunflower Lactaline and Blessed Thistle, but was finding it hard to find time to pump between feedings and everything else on my plate. My supply was slowly going up, but it till wasn’t enough to stop supplementing with formula.
I finally bought a bra that allowed me to pump “hands free” in April. It was a game changer. Reflecting back I honestly think if I had utilized this since the beginning I would have had more production.
My maternity leave began in late December. The job I had at the time was very physically demanding and, although I had initially intended to work up to my due date, as I got bigger I knew that was not going to be feasible. After my daughter was born I had February, March and April on leave. I sought out a new career opportunity that would put my closer to home and had hours that allowed me to align my schedule with my husband and the daycare we would put our daughter in. I enjoy being a working mom, but I feel like I had finally gotten into a routine and was getting good at building my supply when I finally had to go back to work. My first day at work I forgot my pump. It was not a comfortable afternoon. Days and weeks following I pumped before leaving for work, once during the work day and occasionally at night. I watched my already low supply dwindle down lower and lower. I have been back to work for 2 months and until last week I was still pumping in the morning before work. This week I have not pumped at all. I do not feel engorged and am not leaking. Natalie still breast feeds, on demand, before a nap, between meals or dream feeds. I’m sad to know this to is near the end as I dry up. I’m actually having a harder time then I thought I would. I will miss the bonding time and looking down at her sweet face as she feeds. I know I’ll get this bonding time in other ways as she gets older, but this is a true sign that she is growing and my baby is no longer a newborn.
If and when we have baby number 2 I hope my breast feeding journey is a more smooth transition. I have a better idea of what to expect, but also will feel more prepared. In the thick of those first few weeks post partum some days I felt I was in the same chair, in the same room all day. I felt accomplished if I brushed my hair. Looking back I miss those moments and cherish them. The memories of when her stool changed color so slightly and googling at 2am with my hubby “what does normal poop look like in a 3 week old?” or sending pictures to a mama friend of the umbilical stump “is this normal?!?!”. I also feel so fortunate to have some great mama friends who checked in on me and offered a shoulder to lean on and advice to take in. My breast feeding journey was unexpected and short, but I am so happy I got to do it. I am trying to see the positives like being able to pick an outfit and not have to think “can I get to my breast easily in this? Can you see my pad through my shirt?”.
Onto the next post partum journey.