To Wean or Not To Wean?

My daughter is almost 10 months old, and about a month ago she decided to stop breastfeeding. I figured it was due to teething, which might have been the case at first, but now I think she just prefers the bottle over me. This has caused me to exclusively breast pump, which SUCKS! It’s so much easier to just breastfeed my baby and not have to worry about pumping, warming up milk, or cleaning pump parts and bottles.

My husband and I strive to do things as naturally as we can with our daughter.

With that being said, I’m trying desperately to get her back to breastfeeding.

So, I started doing research, and one major thing I learned is that babies don’t usually wean off the breast before they hit a year old. If they do, it’s usually because they are teething and their gums are sore, or they’re starting to prefer a bottle instead. With my daughter, it’s probably a mixture of both, but there are ways to get her back to breastfeeding.

Another thing I learned is that babies don’t really need more and 1oz – 1.25oz per hour, no matter how old they are or how big they’ve grown because their stomach (the actual organ, not the “belly”) is only but so big. So, if she’s eating about every 3 hours, then she shouldn’t really be drinking more than 4oz at a time.

This whole time I’ve been worried that I haven’t been expressing enough milk when I pump. In actuality, I’m really getting the amount she needs, which is also the amount she would be getting if she breastfed.

What a major relief!

As she has gotten older, we’ve been filling her bottles with 5-7oz of breastmilk because we thought she needed more. I also got a bigger size nipples that allow faster milk flow because it seemed like she was getting frustrated with the slower flow nipples. But as a friend told me, “your milk flow doesn’t change, so neither should the bottle nipple.”

Essentially, we’ve been overfeeding her. She typically doesn’t take that much all in one sitting, which is good, but sometimes she does. And we let her feed herself since she can hold a bottle on her own, so she definitely hasn’t been pace fed via bottle since she was much smaller.

Things I’m now doing differently to try to get her back to the breast:

-I’ve switched the bottle nipples from the size 2 that she’s been currently using, which makes the milk come out faster and she gulps it down too fast; back to either a preemie nipple or size 1 nipple, which both have a slower flow and more closely mimic my natural milk flow.

-When I’m with her, I’ll keep offering myself to try to get her back on track.

-I’ve asked her other caretakers to still hold her while she feeds and hold the bottle horizontally in order to pace her.

I think that since she got used to the faster flow and increased amount, she didn’t want to wait for my let down and slower flow, which is why she refuses me. Hopefully with these changes, she’ll be more willing to breastfeed again.

All of this has revealed to me the huge knowledge gap that moms have when it comes to breastfeeding their babies. Even as a NICU nurse, I didn’t know all the breastfeeding do’s and don’ts. We need more education BEFORE the baby comes, not just a quick course the day baby is born after hours or days of labor.

We are then sent to fend for ourselves thereafter.

It’s not right!

And it does a disservice to both mother and baby.

I know many moms who’ve gotten frustrated with breastfeeding or burnt out so they stop way before their baby is a year old.

To each her own, but I think if moms were fully educated and fully supported, babies would be getting breastfed much longer and wouldn’t go on strike at 9 months old.

Who’s with me?!

Black Breastfeeding Week 2018

It’s black breastfeeding week, y’all!

And while it’s evident that I’m not actually breastfeeding at this moment pictured, I do every day because I believe it’s important for the growth and development of my baby and for our bonding. I prefer to give her what my body naturally creates for her. As I said before, there are endless benefits: baby-tailored nutrients, endless free food supply, bottle-free feeding, easy access for feeding on-the-go, mother-baby bonding, natural postpartum weight loss, just to name a few!

And no, this is not a shot at those who choose formula over breastmilk/breastfeeding. Do you, boo boos! Not everyone can lactate. And some moms that can just choose not to for various reasons. They are doing what they feel is best for them/their baby and that is fine, too.

This is just to encourage those melanated mommas who do choose to breastfeed their little ones.

This week is for us!

Somedays it’s easy. Somedays it’s hard. Somedays you just don’t want to. Somedays you never want the moment to end. It’s all a part of this beautiful rollercoaster that is motherhood. And it’s always worth it. So keep going for as long as you and your baby/toddler want to!

The World Health Organization and UNICEF encourage breastfeeding combined with solid foods until your little one is 2 or 3

“Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child’s second year of life.”

So don’t let anyone make you feel bad for doing so if you so choose!

It may seem weird to many, but it’s time to normalize breastfeeding for as long as Mom and baby/child feel necessary.

If we can so easily normalize humans drinking cow’s milk, then we should certainly be able to normalize humans drinking human milk.

ITS WHAT ITS FOR!!!!

Love,

Meg

Breastmilk vs. Formula. What should I feed my baby?

Warning: there will be lots of talk about breasts in this post, so if you’re reading this and you’re uncomfortable with the words boob, breast, nipple, areola…you get the point, then I suggest you skip this one. 🙂

Okay,

So…

You’ve completed pregnancy.

You’ve conquered labor and delivery.

And now it’s time to feed your baby…

Do you feed breastmilk? Formula?

Only you can answer that question.

I’ve personally chosen to exclusively feed my baby breastmilk for her first year of life, and possibly a bit beyond that.

The choice to me was simple because of all the benefits of breastmilk.

To name a few:

-it is literal medicine for your baby- containing antibodies and other components to help your baby fight infection, causing fewer doctor/hospital visits

-it’s free

-only you can make the perfect breastmilk tailored for your baby

-it’s FREE

-you have it ready in a split second anywhere you go, at any time

-you don’t need any bottles

-did I mention it’s free?

Yes, my choice might have been easy, but breastfeeding itself wasn’t such an easy ride for me in the beginning.

My daughter had a short latch starting out. She literally chomped on my nipples during her entire feed. And honestly, even as a nurse I didn’t know that something was seriously wrong until a doula told me so. I knew that it could feel uncomfortable each time until the let down happened, so I just figured that this was that pain.

For those unfamiliar, “let down” is the process of your milk ducts releasing your breastmilk for your baby. (It goes deeper but I’ll leave it there for the sake of this post.)

Anyway, I was in excruciating pain every time I nursed; to the point where I dreaded having to breastfeed her each time because I knew I’d want to cry. Every time I saw her open her mouth, I would wince in anticipation of the pain.

I didn’t wanna seem like a wimp, so I held my tongue and said nothing to the hospital staff. And they figured since I was a NICU nurse, I was fine, I knew what I was doing.

I tried to hold my baby in different positions, but that didn’t help.

A few days after I’d been home from the hospital, a doula witnessed my painful experience and told me to try a nipple shield -a flexible silicone shield that covers the nipple and makes latching easier- and that helped some; but at that point my baby was nursing every 1-2 hours and there was so much nerve damage done to my nipples that I didn’t even want them to be touched.

So after about a week, I stopped putting her to my breasts. Instead, I pumped and fed her my milk from a bottle.

I felt defeated because I had always wanted to breastfeed. But, at the same time, I had to remind myself that I was lucky to still be able to feed my daughter my own milk, because not every mom is able to produce any milk for her baby at all.

When you pump, you should do it as frequently as your baby is eating, or even more frequently if you have a low supply, in order to produce more milk. I was fortunate to have a great supply, but I still had to pump every 3 hours to keep up with her needs. This meant pumping every 3 hours around the clock.

Yes, even at night.

So for the first 3+ months of her life, I was getting no more than 3 hours of sleep at a time.

I LOVE sleep.

Sleep is my best friend.

We go way back.

I used to sleep 12 hours easily after working a nightshift, so this sleep deprivation was a HUGE shock to my body. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME.

(I’m still exhausted, but it has gotten a little better.)

After about 3.5 months of bottle feeding, I decided to give breastfeeding another try.

To my surprise, my daughter did much better! I didn’t even need a nipple shield anymore.

I now breastfeed around the clock when I’m at home, and she gets bottles of my breastmilk when I’m at work or when she’s at a babysitter. The kicker is, sometimes I still have to pump in addition to her nursing because she doesn’t empty my breasts all the way yet. (She will as she gets older and drinks more milk at a time.)

Luckily for me, she’s starting to sleep through the night now. So, I follow her lead and sleep when she sleeps, allowing me to get a good 6 or so hours at a time. Yay!

I say all that to say, breastfeeding/breastmilk feeding is a lot of work.

A LOT!

Which is why some women choose to just formula feed their baby instead.

While breastmilk has a ton of amazing benefits for a baby, formula feeding is an option and it is perfectly okay!

A mom has been through a great deal of physical and emotional stress from pregnancy to delivery, so if she wants to take it easy and use formula, she has every right to.

Should you choose formula over breastmilk, don’t let anyone force you to do otherwise! However, I do suggest that you listen to all of the pros and cons from a healthcare professional before making an informed decision. Don’t just go off of what your momma, neighbor, sister, auntie, etc told you.

Whatever you decide to do, you made the right choice for you. It is your body, your baby, your choice.

Always remember: “a fed baby is a happy baby!”

Love,

Meg