Hi everyone! I'm Claire and I blog over at Casual Claire about marriage, motherhood, recipes, fashion and more. I have a beautiful 13 month old daughter named Maddie Grace who I never planned on breastfeeding - and yet here I am nursing an almost toddler. Funny how life works!
When I found out I was pregnant very few of my friends had children, even less breastfed their children, and I really didn't know anything about breastfeeding at all. What I did know about breastfeeding I thought was kind of gross, and made me uncomfortable to even think about. My OB office and midwife didn't even provide me with much information on breastfeeding. I asked my midwife if I should take a breastfeeding class and she said no, that I could look up all the information on Google. I was fine with that answer as I was pretty determined not to breastfeed, except that my husband was really pushing for it. He looked up all the information on breastfeeding, presented it to me, and asked me to at least try - which I reluctantly agreed to. Regardless I stocked up on tons of free samples of formula because I was pretty certain I would be using them. Just a couple weeks before my due date an old friend from high school sent me a facebook message asking if I wanted to join a secret breastfeeding support facebook group, which I figured couldn't hurt anythign. This group provided me with a wealth of breastfeeding knowledge - knowledge I didn't find anywhere else during my pregnancy. It was reading through the discussions in this group that switched my mindset and I found myself determined to be successful at breastfeeding.
Flash forward to the hospital where I was handed my newborn baby to hold chest to chest and to nurse. My heart melted and I wanted nothing more than to bond with my baby and do what was best for her. The first nursing experience was terrible. We couldn't get Maddie Grace to latch, and I was told I had inverted nipples - a term I had never even heard before. I asked to see a lactation consultant, and was first told that I didn't need one because the nurses were all trained in breastfeeding support. I knew that the only way we were going to figure out these issues was with help I wasn't receiving from the nurses so I continued to beg and finally told I could see one... in 24 hours. For the first 24 hours all I could do was attempt to nurse Maddie Grace, which wasn't working, and pump and then spoon feed it to her. It was miserable, I didn't sleep a wink, but I was so determined. At one point I even had a nurse put ready made formula on the table right next to me and tell me I really should just feed that to Maddie Grace because I needed rest, which infuriated me and only gave me more determination to make it work. Thanks to the breastfeeding support group on Facebook I knew that giving Maddie Grace any formula, especially in the first hours of her life, would seriously hurt our chances of having a successful breastfeeding relationship.
After what felt like eternity the lactation consultant visited me, and she was amazing. She introduced me to a nipple shield (which I know is controversial but it was the only way Maddie Grace was going to latch) and showed me different positions which made nursing much easier for us. But our problems didn't end there. We had a ton of visitors while at the hospital, and I didn't want to breastfeed in front of them or kick them out to breastfeed, which resulted in Maddie Grace not getting quite enough. They told me she had jaundice and had lost too much weight. I felt like I was failing and I terrible mom. I thought the first night was rough - the next was even worse. They had me on a routine with absolutely no breaks of nursing, pumping, spoon-feeding and nothing else. I didn't think I could make it. It was worth it though. In the morning they tested her again and the jaundice was gone and we were told that we could go home. The lactation consultant paid me one more visit before we left, and gave me more great tips and advice, we went home and I thought we were in the clear.
My milk came in quickly, which was great, and I always had serious oversupply problems, which was annoying but I know is much better than having undersupply. I found good nursing pads, always wore a bra, cleaned up milk off the floor, and it was manageable. The biggest problem was that I couldn't get Maddie Grace to nurse without the nipple shield and it was a pain. I would lose it, had a hard time getting it on and adjusting it for when I had to nurse not at home. I kept reading that Maddie Grace should figure out how to nurse without it by 3 months, but we didn't lose it until almost 4 months. So then I thought it would be smooth sailing - right? Well close. I was very fortunate to not have any worse issues, but I did develop thrush once when Maddie Grace was around 10 months. We were able to treat it at home and it only took a few days of her having a purple tongue to clear up.
Now at 13 months I'm starting to try to wean Maddie Grace. My husband, who as I mentioned is a huge advocate of breastfeeding, has actually encouraged me to go until 2 years which some health bodies recommend. However, eventually I'd like to have another baby and would love a few months of not breastfeeding or being pregnant to feel like my body belongs to me. Weaning is going great for us however. Maddie Grace hates cow milk, although we just started toddler formula which she seems to like better.
It makes me sad to think that our breastfeeding journey is coming to an end but I 'm so thankful to have made it this far with Maddie Grace. I never could have imagined what an amazing bonding experience breastfeeding would be, and how much I would enjoy it! The extra cuddles, the closeness I felt to my daughter and knowing that my daughter was getting the best nutrition for her was invaluable. The extra calories burnt and money saved were bonuses as well! My biggest advice to moms hoping for a successful breastfeeding relationship is to educate yourself as much as possible. Take a class, join a facebook support group (I'll add you to the one I love if you ask), attend local La Leche League meetings, whatever you can to be as educated as possible on breastfeeding. Being a mom is the hardest and most amazing thing that has ever happened to me - I look forward to hopefully nursing several more babies in the future and encouraging other moms to give breastfeeding a chance!