Wednesday, March 18, 2015

BF Redux

I was desperate for breast feeding success stories (minus sunshine and rainbows) when I was in my first few weeks of motherhood. To pay it forward- here is the good, the bad and the ugly of BFing.


Kins was almost 100% breastfed until he started solids at 6 months and had no liquids but water until almost 12 months. At that point we introduced milk in a sippy cup. He was last BFed on January 26th 1 year and 2 weeks. His last bottle of pumped milk was in November.
The first several weeks were BRUTAL.
By month 2 I loved it.
There were times I thought he wasn’t getting enough (wrong), that he was too small (wrong) and that I just couldn’t continue (wrong).
Best Advice: Don’t quit on your worst day.

After last BF. Bittersweet

The Dirty Details

The Early Days

Before kins was born I was “Eh” on BFing. I know it’s great for babies, but I didn’t know if it would be right for me and my baby. Hub laughed (gently) that I wouldn’t last a week BFing because I’m so sensitive there. When kins was born he was laid on my chest (after being checked out for the meconium and wiped down a bit) and he found and latched right on to my left breast. I jumped. It was uncomfortable and by uncomfortable I mean “very F’ing painful”.  The midwife told me not to jump so I wouldn’t scare him. Clearly she didn’t know my kid (but he was 2 minutes old so who did). He has NO problem eating under any circumstance. Kins was an excellent latch and he loved BFing.

His second morning on earth was a bumpy one for me. I was taking my first post-birth shower (NOTE: it was awesome). While I was in there hub had bub and the pedi came in. Our pedi office isn’t affiliated with the hospital I delivered in so our pedi didn’t come. The woman who did was NOT someone I would select. She was in and out and didn’t wait for me. She told hub that kins lost “too much” weight and we “had to” supplement. Then she left. I cried. I wasn’t super invested in BFing, but bub liked it, and I liked kins. He’d been here less than 30 hours and I was failing him. The nurse came in, saw my state and called the lactation people. They assured me that it was fine, he hadn’t lost QUITE 10% of his birth weight. They confirmed I was making colostrum, had good nips and we could BF. They gave me some pointers on hold and position. Kins was good at BFing. I was just really sensitive and so there were hurdles.

By his first well baby appointment at 4 days old he had started to gain weight at the rate of an ounce a day. I told them I was concerned he was starving because he cried whenever he wasn’t “eating”. I was assured he  wasn’t  starving (but no one could convince me, and I won’t convince you, but odds are YOU ARE NOT STARVING YOUR BABY). To calm my nerves they sent me home with a 6 pack of pre-mixed infant formula “just in case”. I used one every 2-3 days the first 2-ish weeks. Looking back- I don’t think he “needed” it, but it introduced the bottle (as a working mom, this was a MUST), let hub feed him (bonding time) and gave me peace of mind and a break(priceless).  For us, it was a win.


When he was tiny, I nursed around the clock. I remember crying when hub told me kins wanted to eat again. Kins loved BFing, it made him feel safe, and sleepy. He ONLY napped on my breast for…. 5 months? He’d latch on and pass out, waking within two minutes of me easing it out of his hungry little mouth. WAILING until I “fed him” again. He was on the breast for 45-50 minutes of every hour most of my 13 week maternity leave. My blissful break was a few 4 hour stretches when he would sleep- on top on me. He never napped anywhere but in my arms on my breast. If I had realized that’s what was happening it would have been less hard on me. I thought he was starving, getting on, finding no milk and just lying there gently sucking and waiting for more to come in.

I went back to work when he was about 14 weeks old: I fed him before I left, he got 2-3 bottles while I was out, I fed him as soon as I got home at 5. At that point he cluster fed usually eating at 6, 7 and 8. He slept for 3 hours (the longest stretch) 8-11 and then ate every 2-3 hours until the morning. Exhausting. At 8 or 9 months he was down to 2-3 feeds between 7pm and 5am. Then I went away and hub night weaned him and got him sleeping through the night. MIRACLE.  I WILL say I think it’s true that BF babies sleep less well. He used my breast to fall asleep, so when he woke naturally,  he needed it to go back to sleep.

I started pumping when kins was 2-3 weeks, so that I could “up my supply” and have some banked for rare nights out. Honestly, my supply was really good- not superhuman- I didn’t have enough to feed a litter of babies, but I could feed my one son and have a little left for storage. At work I started pumping 3 times a day, dropped to twice a day quickly. My best advice for pumping moms is to get a good double electric pump and a good hands free nursing bra. Makes life so easy! Was down to once a day when he was about 9 months.  I don’t think he got formula after that first 6 pack. A few times I tried to introduce it- either because I wanted to go out, needed a break, had bleeding nips, or in the end, give him something other than milk after I stopped pumping. He wouldn’t take it. As I mentioned above, at 9 months old, I left kins home for a 4 day work trip to London (for which he had plenty of milk for all feedings). I brought my electric pump but blew it out as soon as I plugged it in. I did have a manual pump, and used it there and when I was home for another month. When he was just over 10 months old, I stopped pumping at work. It was time consuming and painful. We made it another month + for day time feedings before running out. At that point he started on milk in a sippy cup. It took a few exposures, but he LOVES milk now.  

I got Mastitis once- THAT was a BAD time. It hurt so much and I felt awful. I pumped about 1/2 an ounce on that side over the whole day- this at a time I was getting 8oz a side (pumped). Kins couldn't get anything out either and bit me in frustration- he had teeth. Hot compress, advil, antibiotics and breastfeeding the not so hungry baby eventually fixed the problem, but it was NO JOKE. 

The Wean

I was done pumping because of the broken electric pump at 10 months. I think I would have done another month had it not broken. I did want him to be on cow’s milk at one, and I wanted him to be off a bottle around that time too. I had a stored month of BM frozen, so that would have brought us to 12 months before introducing cow’s milk. There were no issues though, so I’m not at all upset at the way it turned out.

I think the broken pump helped me slowly phase out pumping- I was getting less and was less willing to pump with the manual one. There were no engorgement issues from that being cut out.  I would have liked to continue to BF morning and night for a few more months but the drive for TTC kins' little won and I started cutting out the morning feed just before one. At that point he was having cow’s milk and was less interested in the morning feed. Sometimes he slept through the morning one anyway. The night feed was harder to drop- for me. 

Kins cared very little when the BFing came to an end. He got extra stories and snuggle times instead and that was fine with him. He made little happy sounds when he would see the breast, and would latch on greedily, but he never would pull at me when I didn't feed him. I went from every night to every other night and then, 1.5 weeks before my "you can go on pills" blood draw, I cut him off. It was the perfect feeding, short, gentle and he fell asleep on me (as he usually did). I put him into his crib, he didn't wake to cry and it was over. 

The following week I was a bit uncomfortable, I leaked one day. I only leaked 3-4 times since kin's birth so that was a little odd.  

Parting words

I had all the new mom problems- cracked and bleeding nips, extreme pain, fear of starving bub. I got all the gear- cream, cooling pads, better bras. TIME was the only thing that helped. It is really stressful to be the only food source for a tiny person that everyone you know loves. Your life changed DRASTICALLY in just one instant- you can no longer make a cup of tea or take a shower without breaking a tiny heart. Oh, and you're exhausted. Having a baby attached to you 24/7 (or crying because you’re not attached) is a stressful situation. It’s normal to feel that you “can’t do it” and may be for you, stopping is the right decision. That's OK. My only advice: Don’t quit on your worst day, and don’t think it won’t get better. It does- fairly quickly. 

I grew to love BFing, but it was more because I grew to love the time with my son. It wasn't a life changing thing on its own HE is the life changing thing. BF, bottle, solids- whatever- I was providing for a tiny person I love more than anything. THAT is special, BF just made getting him fed and happy easier. 


  1. I love this. It's really resonating with me right now as I am hooked up to the pump at home because I forgot my breast shields today (conveniently during NCAA basketball tournament--but this was not on purpose!) and had to leave work early. Oh, we also have 4 inches of snow, well that really was a convenient leave. Anyway, after the first month with Sprout when I found BFing to be all-encompassing, I had such an easy time with it. He slept 8 hours per night for the most part starting around 3 months old. If I had known how spoiled I was...round 2 of BFing is more like your experience--constant nighttime interruptions. Although, I have not had any blocked ducts, which I had often with Sprout. I also have only been pumping once per day at work since about 2 weeks after I returned to work. I pumped with Sprout until 12 months! What a waste of time, seriously. LJ gets some forumal when there's no pumped breastmilk. And he's fine with it and so I am fine with it. I think the best advice you give here is that there is a solution for everyone, and there are lots of options for a solution. And I agree, don't quit on your worst day, because amazingly the next day can be your best day and then you are glad you didn't stop yet. But when you stop, don't look back, it will feel amazing then too. Enjoy the BFing snuggles while they last, but they aren't the only snuggles left.

    Congrats on having an easy wean!! Ya done good!

  2. Every single piece of this is true. Well written.