The Breastfeeding Diaries: Amy from New Mom Problems

May 14, 2014

Hello! My name is Amy! I am a wife to Tate, and the mother of a sweet {most days!} 20 month old daughter, Caroline. I grew up in Northern California, but currently reside in a suburb of Houston, Texas. I blog at New Mom Problems, and am also a contributor for Houston Moms Blog...oh, and I teach English, too! I am passionate about childhood nutrition, language development, and supporting the needs of working mothers. I currently just finished breastfeeding {after 8.5 LONG months}, and am extremely grateful for my decision to do so.

For me, there was never a question as to whether or not I would breastfeed. During my pregnancy I immersed myself in information about the benefits of breastfeeding. My husband and I have each struggled with our weight at various points in our lives, so, we both felt equally passionate about giving our daughter the best possible nutritional start to her life. That being said, as much as I desired the benefits of breastfeeding, I definitely did not prepare myself for the mental and physical challenges that it would present. Had it not been for a supportive group of co-workers at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, and goals I had set for myself, there is absolutely no way I would have been able to breastfeed for even remotely close to as long as I did.

Knowing that I should breastfeed, or that I wanted to breastfeed, didn't necessarily translate into knowing how to breastfeed. Yes, obviously I understood the mechanics of it all, but the timing, the pumping, and all of that were absolutely foreign to me. Four days after giving birth, colostrum essentially gone, and milk still nowhere in sight, I nearly threw in the towel. I was an emotional wreck, Caroline had not had a wet diaper in almost 24 hours, she was constantly crying, was losing weight, and I felt helpless. Fortunately, about an hour before I was going to just give up, and start feeding her formula, my milk came in. It was my birthday, and truly, it was the best present.

During the seven short weeks I was home, I went from demand feeding, to slowly putting Caroline on a schedule to feed every 3 hours in advance of my going back to work. The Wednesday before I resumed my teaching job after maternity leave, I realized that maybe I should try to pump. Boy, do I wish I had thought of that sooner {rookie mistake}. The pump I had was faulty, and I needed to get a new one! I really hadn't figured out the logistics of what I would need to do to be prepared to go back to work, so, I literally breastfed and then pumped, and then would wake up all hours of the night to pump as well for several days so that I would have enough milk stored to get through the first day.

From then on, my routine was to breastfeed Caroline before leaving for work {6:00am}, pump as soon as I got to school {around 8:00am}, again at lunch {11:30am}, and then around 3:30, a paraprofessional would watch my class so that I could pump again. I would then have two more feedings with Caroline once I got home, and would pump once she was put to bed. It was exhausting and so much work. Any change in my stress levels, how much water I drank, or my sleep would cause my supply to really fluctuate, not to mention if I ever had to skip a pumping time due to time constraints. I began to feel more like a milk cow than a mom, and this would be something that would stay with me for the duration of my time breastfeeding.

All negative parts aside, I cannot fully express how fortunate I feel to have been able to breastfeed Caroline. As much as I felt like a milk cow, I was happy to be able to provide nourishment for Caroline, as well as have the bonding time with my daughter, especially since I was unable to see her for most of the day. I also feel like breastfeeding kept Caroline very healthy her first year of life. She literally had one cold her entire first year, and it afforded me the ability to carry several "sick days" over from last year, to my current teaching year -- something I have really appreciated with her starting daycare and having an abundance of lovely bugs this year!

As Caroline started to become more aware of her surroundings, and had a desire to be more mobile, it took more and more work to get her to be interested in actually breastfeeding rather than take a bottle, as it was so much quicker! I really struggled with this because gradually, I went from nursing her 3 times a day, down to one, and then part of a feeding supplemented with pumped milk and then to just pumped bottles. Without the contact and bonding that I experienced in the beginning, my supply began to diminish quickly, and by eight months, when she was exclusively drinking bottles of pumped milk, I decided it was time to call it quits, and began the transition to formula. For nearly ten months, my body was a vessel for growing a baby, and for nearly nine more I felt like a cow. The emotions that I was experiencing were not making me a good mother, nor a good wife, and so, I didn't have a problem when I decided to stop. I had reached, and then surpassed the 6 month goal I had set for myself, so, I didn't have any feelings of guilt, just that I would be able to be a better mother as it was one less thing that I would need to be stressed about.

I strongly advocate for breastfeeding -- it truly is an amazing thing that the human body can provide nourishment for another being, and a blessing that you are able to give to your child. Given my experience, I also understand the importance of mental health in being able to adequately parent a child, and because of that, if you feel like breastfeeding and/or pumping is keeping you from being a better mother, then you shouldn't ever feel guilt for having to quit.

My advice for moms who want to breastfeed is to not only educate yourselves on the benefits of breastfeeding, but, to also really familiarize yourself with HOW...don't just buy the pump, the Boppy, the gazillion bottles and just assume that it will just come easy! There are so many fantastic organizations that are willing to help nursing mothers, so, take advantage of it! Also, make sure your partner is educated as well so that they can act as a support for you and an encourager. Invest in a pumping bra...please! I went nearly 5 months without one, and after realizing that I could use the computer or grade papers while pumping, it really made me much more inclined to keep going. Seek out support from those who have been in your position, and lean on them for words of wisdom and advice. Lastly, don't be hard on yourself! You know your body better than anyone else, however the capabilities of your body will surprise you, not only in growing and birthing your child, but also with regard to breastfeeding.  Whatever the direction your journey takes you, be confident in your decisions and know that you are a great mom!



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4 Comments »

4 Responses to “The Breastfeeding Diaries: Amy from New Mom Problems”

  1. Beautiful girl! i'm still in the first month of breastfeeding and find kit so rewarding although HARD sometimes - my best resource has been a Facebook support group so now I encourage others to join it or find a similar one!

    Claire

    www.casualclaire.com

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  2. I give working moms that pump mad props! I stayed at home with my son most of the time. I had a part-time job that was flexible. I absolutely loathed pumping. I know that I'll probably have to do it the next time around a lot more and that causes me anxiety. I never felt like I could get anything out and it was just annoying to me. Congrats for making it 8.5 months!

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  3. Love, love, love this Amy! I just realized I never knew your breastfeeding story. So glad you shared!

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  4. Thanks for sharing Amy! Our stories seem very sim ilar in that I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but didn't really know much beyond that! Pumping at work is so not fun, but oh the things we do for our babies.

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