Baby Reid is growing up!
As we just celebrated his first birthday, a popular topic of discussion at his party was, “So, are you done with breastfeeding?”
Technically – no. I still BF him morning and night, and any time in between when I’ve got a few moments and he’s craving boob (just like I crave chocolate, I bet). But when we’re on the go or I’ve got things to do, he’ll happily sip a straw cup filled with homo milk.
I can’t deny that weaning brings about a whole new sense of freedom, but old habits die hard and frankly I do miss the closeness. Which is why Reid is still 50% boobage… with me being at home, there’s really no rush to wean completely.
So I began thinking about my breastfeeding journey one year ago; my struggles, my hopes and finally, my success. Remember A Tale of Two Boobs? Seems like a lifetime ago, but after reading the posts, I’m filled with awe and satisfaction of how fine-tuned nature can be. Therefore, I decided to do a post on five things I’ve learned along the way.
1) Breast is best, but formula is fine, too.
I’ve got two beautiful, healthy boys – one completely on formula, the other, 100% breast milk. I thought after I successfully breastfed that I would have an epiphany; that I would suddenly realize what all the hype was about. Well, I can’t deny that there are oodles of benefits of breastfeeding, but when it comes down to it, I felt no more love, satisfaction or peace than when I fed Ryder. Just as I spent hours connected to Reid, I spent the same time cuddling and holding Ryder close as I bottle fed him. So when it comes down to it, I think as long as you’re making a concerted effort to love, care for and nourish your child, after you’ve made your choice (hopefully an informed one), don’t beat yourself up over where that nourishment comes from.
2) Adhere to the “Two Week” rule.
When I first decided that I truly wanted to give breastfeeding my best, several mamas weighed in with advice. But a recurring token of wisdom was to simply hang in there for two weeks. Yes, it’s VERY uncomfortable. And your nipples will feel tender, sore, and will likely bleed. And it’s a b*tch if you’re trying for the first time following a c-section. BUT, take a short term approach. Tell yourself to hang in there, if only for two weeks. With Ryder, I quit after four days. I just couldn’t see myself going through any more pain or frustration. But had I just hung in there a little longer, who knows? With Reid, around the 4-5 day mark I once again found myself caving, but I was steadfast and held my ground. And just like most mamas predicted, after about 10 days, suddenly it hurt a LOT less, my nipples “toughened” up and stopped bleeding, and like magic, Reid got the hang of it.
So I’m now a HUGE fan of the two week rule. Of course, there are many instances in which no matter how long you persevere, breastfeeding is not for you (or your child). But in instances where your resolve is weaning purely based on pain and/or discomfort, hang in there. You’ll be amazed at how quickly things turn around.
3) The “latch” is a temporary phenomenon.
When you’re first introduced to breastfeeding, it’s all about baby’s latch. You’ll find written instructions, diagrams and even videos which will show you the preferred placement of baby’s mouth on nipple. And while it is vitally important in those early days to establish a correct latch, rest assured, after a month or two, you’ll no longer be so interested what baby is doing with his/her mouth. Because once a baby learns how to get what he needs, he’ll get it – lying down, upside down, you name it. In fact, Reid’s currently favourite position is with me lying on my back and him crouched over me with his butt in the air. It goes against everything I know about gravity, but hey, he’s drinking and he’s happy. The latch is only important in those early days – after that, baby’s instincts will take over.
4) A breast pump is a valuable tool.
Yes, I wrote a review and had a giveaway for a Medela Freestyle. But I just want to put it on record that I firmly stand behind both the product, company, and value of having a quality breast pump on hand. It’s particularly important in the first month, while establishing supply.
The Medela Freestyle helped me in the following ways:
a) In between BF’ing sessions, I pumped to stimulate my milk supply.
b) I sometimes topped off Reid after breast feeding with the pumped milk, so I was always certain he’d had enough to drink. Took a lot of the guesswork out, and saved me from supplementing with formula.
c) Pumping and storing allowed me to be away from Reid for short periods of time, and even gave me a break at night when hubby took over one feed.
Not sure if it was nature or all my efforts pumping to stimulate supply, but for the first 7-8 months I actually had an oversupply to the point of engorgement. But I’m not complaining!
5) The weight doesn’t always “fall off”.
It’s always amusing to read about celebrities’ theories on how they dropped the baby weight. “It’s definitely the breastfeeding” they always say. Oh sure. It has nothing to do with the personal trainers, team of nannies (who allow them to spend 5 hours a day in the gym), personal chefs or calorie-restricted diets. And it’s most definitely not that jaunt down to Brazil for a quick nip and tuck.
Now while it is a fact that breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day, technically, to maintain a healthy supply, it’s advised that lactating mothers increase their calorie intake by 300 calories. However, as most exclusively BF’ing mommies will tell you – you’re freaking STARVING all the time! So with a proposed deficit of 200 calories, the weight won’t necessarily fall off dramatically. BUT, breastfeeding will help you return to your pre-pregnancy shape more quickly, and with less intervention. It also helps if your body is in prime physical shape before you conceive – as any trainer will tell you, muscles have memory.
However, don’t be surprised if you hang on to an extra few pounds until you’ve started the weaning process – in the two weeks following Reid’s introduction to homo milk, I dropped 6 pounds without even trying. Turns out my body needed that extra fat to aid with the production of quality milk for my babe – a trade off I’m more than willing to oblige.
So there you have it – five things I didn’t know just one year ago, but am happy to share now. And to all the past, present and future breast feeders out there, my final tip post-lactation: invest in a quality push up bra!
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