I’d like to know whomever it was who said that breastfeeding is easy, so I can give them a piece of my mind, and maybe a swift kick to the head.
I know a lot of you feel the same way as I do, too.
As my final breastfeeding post for National Breastfeeding Month, I’m sharing mine and Fox’s nursing story.
Breastfeeding in the first few hours
Fox and I struggled with breastfeeding from the get go. We had a beautiful (if not-exactly-planned) homebirth (read the story here: part 1, part 2, part 3) with a fantastic support team, consisting of the Husbeast, our midwife, and her apprentice, plus the second midwife who arrived just minutes too late to help with Fox’s birth.
Luckily for us, our midwife had breastfed all of her babies and was well versed in helping new mamas, but her apprentice is also an IBCLC. Their help was invaluable the first few days as we struggled.
And struggle we did. Fox was born with a posterior tongue tie and upper lip tie. I was graced with flat nipples. Neither my husband or I had been breastfed at all. We weren’t exactly setup for success.
Breastfeeding in the first week
By the end of her first 24 hours of life, my little Fox had lost a bit of weight, just slightly over the normal amount. I wasn’t terribly worried, but I hoped my milk would show soon so I could help her grow.
Day 3 rolled around and my milk came in with a vengeance. I felt like I could feed the whole neighborhood. I was engorged constantly, making it hard for my tied little minion to latch on. I would pump a little to relieve the pressure then try to latch the baby, with little success. My IBCLC gave me a nipple shield to help us get over the rough patch, with the supply, flat nipples, ties, and overactive let-down.
On day 4, we had her tongue tie released. The dentist who did her tongue tie advised me that her upper lip tie wouldn’t pose any problems, so we left it alone.
After seeing our midwife on day 5, I was instructed to pump and supplement a bottle of breastmilk each night to help little Fox regain her birth weight. She wasn’t gaining quickly enough and was very sleepy at the breast. She would sleep for long periods during the day and wasn’t nursing at least 10-12 times a day, so I began waking her every two hours during the day time to encourage her appetite.
Breastfeeding in week 2
By the end of the second week, little Fox had regained her birth weight, but we still struggled with latch. I had decided that a healthy growing baby was my first priority, so we kept nursing with the shield.
Breastfeeding till 6 months
I leaked with oversupply for five months after my milk came in – longer than the usual three months. I donated hundreds of ounces of pumped milk to local moms in need because I pumped to relieve pressure in the mornings.
My overactive let-down calmed finally when my oversupply did. I had a personal record of 2 feet of spray, however, which was both entertaining and a little stressful for baby Fox.
I tried at various points to ditch the nipple shield, but with little success.
Breastfeeding until 1 year
Sometime after she turned six months old, she grabbed an apple away from Husbeast and began to scrape it with her tiny teeth – this was how she began eating solids and how our baby-led weaning adventure began.
We continued to nurse through teething and developmental leaps, for nourishment and for comfort. When Husbeast left for the Army, we nursed late into the night for closeness and comfort for both of us. We nursed through separation anxiety, bumps, scrapes, bruises, and more.
Breastfeeding past the first year of age
My little Fox is nearly 17 months of age now. We still nurse, and quite frequently – for naps, bedtime, mealtime, to wake up, to calm down, to comfort the bumps and bruises away.
We still use the nipple shield. Yes. After 17 months, we still use a nipple shield. This isn’t typical, but it’s part of our story, and without it, I don’t think we’d still be nursing. It’s probably habit at this point, but it’s always in the back of my mind. What if I had had more support when trying to wean her from it? What if I had had more of a backbone? Or more peace? More help? What if her lip tie is why we still use it? I don’t know, but I’m grateful and miserable for it.
Regardless, we nurse. We have overcome a variety of “booby traps” and we’re here, nursing with no end in sight, and so thankful for it.
What’s your breastfeeding story? Share in the comments.