Breastfeeding: Precious, Perilous & Poignant Pt. 2
In my earlier post, I went over the first bit of my ~ breastfeeding journey ~ and of course, there is so much more to it. But it’s a blog, not a novel, so I’ll keep it brief.
Section Three: Weaning
There is so much information out there about weaning. Personally, I just freaked myself out looking at it. Who wants to put cabbage in their bra?
At first I tried, cut down one feed, tried stockpiling milk, bought a friggin cabbage, tried to anticipate exactly how long it would take to gradually wean before I was back to work. But it was just making me nervous. I started to overthink, so I asked myself who are you doing this for? I didn’t know. Instead, I decided I would just do everything intuitively.
I waited until baby and my body started showing signs that it may be time to stop. I was becoming very mentally exhausted by our feeds, baby was getting more wild and squirmy, but also more violent. She throws down, that child. Tired of being drained and sore, I figured maybe this was my first sign. Shortly after this realization, my boobs gave me the nod of approval and were getting a little slower to refill, not hurting anymore, even in the morning.
Slowly, I started phasing out feeds. At 2 months, she (an angel) was sleeping from 11pm-6am straight. No feeds. We started trying solids at 4 months, but just a puree a day. Then at 5 months, some more attempts and a couple of very soft finger foods/ones she couldn't eat but just enjoy, like apples and carrots (in pieces too big to choke on). By 6 months, she was starting to try some cereals. Even at this stage, though, she still had a ton of feeds. We were doing about 12 per day (30-40 mins each but only on one side, that's just what worked for me and she didn't like switching sides).
Eventually, though, after month 7, she was fussier, wouldn't lay down nicely for feeds anymore and was thrashing around a lot. She also stopped sleeping during feeds and seemed more desperate. At this stage, we started feeding her more in earnest - about 3 actual "meals" per day, and about 2 fewer feeds.
7 months was also when we moved to a new place. This brought on even worse sleep habits (after a "regression" at 5 months that didn't go away) and we did some co-sleeping to try to get through it. She was totally unable to settle at night and after trying for at least an hour each time she woke up at various times throughout the night, we gave up and I started feeding her 2-3 times per night and then letting her sleep with us after about 3am.
I'm sure there will be a blog post about this soon, but sleep training made life infinitely better for me, hubby and baby. No more night feeds. Thank you universe.
Gradually, we cut down to just a morning feed on both sides and a bedtime feed on both sides. Although we read later it was a little early to go with no milk in the day, she didn't seem to miss it at all. She really searched for it at wake-up and sleep-time, though.
Nursing fizzled off with little complaint from baby, who loves bottles (an angel, remember?), but countless tears from mommy. We started swapping out the bedtime feeds for bottles with daddy, then finally the morning ones, then mommy wasn't ready and a couple more evening ones, then mommy was sad and baby was searching so there were a couple of afternoon ones, too.
But to each thing a season. She stopped nursing shortly after 9 months and has been happy as a clam with her bottle of formula ever since. (I know, I know, angel.)
Section Quatre: Random Ups and Downs of Nursing
Having a pandemic baby made it much harder to learn about breastfeeding beforehand. We weren’t able to meet in person with a consultant or do the breastfeeding workshops usually provided by the hospital. Although a Lamaze class helped, it was over Zoom, so not quite the same.
The worry. It’s a lot of pressure being the provider of food for a little one. In the beginning, it’s hard to feel confident they’re getting enough (despite being told they get what they need, as a mom who started with EP, things were a little different and I’m happy I supplemented with formula and never had an issue with her having too much - but I would ask a professional/do what you feel comfortable with if you’re curious for yourself).
The guilt of having a drink or a coffee and having to time everything and all that nonsense. This part, like most things, got easier with time as I became more comfortable to just say “fuck it gimme the wine!” and give her a bottle, or to drink in moderation and monitor my comfort level to do a feed.
Washing those fucking breast pads etc. all the time. What a gd inconvenience. Not to mention your lumpy ass chest under smooth tops, the crippling fear of a spreading milk mark across your boob, the pain and drip-drips in the morning, the UNEVEN boob (IYKYK) or the uniboob from wearing sports bras when they’re sore.
Convenience. When you’re tired as shit from being up all night and just want to rest and watch mindless tv, YOU CAN. I was so fortunate to have a great feeder, but man was she on there forever. I’m talking 45 mins per side. But I ended up loving it. These times were a much-needed break.
Great for settling baby. Crying, in pain, sleepy, breastfeeding is kind of a cure-all. Mind you, the sleeping part became tricky down the road. But for the first 6-7 months… #lifehack.
The absolute relief when you have them feed and you are in pain and BURSTING with milk, bam, that little thing is right there drinking away until you’re feeling warm, fuzzy and comfy.
A strange sense of milk-related accomplishments. The thrill of filling your pump bottles more than you ever have, a brand new un-sticky bra insert, putting baby to sleep with your feminine witchy boob powers or having the perkiness of your teen self. Fuck yeah.