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

Weight, what?

Motherhood brings out this whole new side of a woman.

Start with pregnancy…

It’s this (typically) 9 month-long journey filled with many ups and downs.

I’ll be real, my experience was not how I always imagined it to be.

Some women have flawless pregnancies and just love every moment of it. (Ladies, tell me your secrets!)

TV portrays pregnancy to be this wonderful, magical experience once the morning sickness phase is over.

That may very well be the case for some women.

For me? Not so much.

I was extremely nauseous for the first 4 months of my pregnancy with Lena.
I only actually vomited a handful of times, but I was nauseous A LOT. Trust me, being perpetually nauseous is worse than the act of vomiting itself.

Because of said nausea, pretty much all I could stomach during that time was toast/bagels/any type of bread I could get my hands on, dry cereal, pizza, applesauce… annnnd I think that’s about it.

I started to worry a bit after my first trimester ended because I had lost 3lbs instead of gaining any weight. My OB said this was normal, so I didn’t panic.
I did think it was strange though. I’d been carb-loading like I was training for a triathlon, yet I lost weight?

Somewhere around week 20-ish I steadily started gaining weight; about a pound a week.

Cool.

But then it rapidly increased…

After pound 25, I wanted to put myself on a diet.
I was only at about week 26, and I knew I had a ways to go before little miss Lena left my body to join this world. If I kept gaining weight at this rate, I’d be as big as a house by the end!
But, I knew that my baby needed nutrients and that this was all a part of pregnancy.
Again, my OB told me that everything was fine, to keep doing what I was doing and she would worry about the weight if it got out of hand.
She told me she had gained 58lbs during her first pregnancy and ended up weighing as much as her husband in the end, and she was still perfectly healthy.

That made me feel a bit better.

Around week 34, I had gained almost 10 lbs of fluid that week alone from being overworked!
I’m a nurse, so my job requires a lot of standing and constant movement. I had worked 4 out of 5 twelve hour nightshifts in a row, and it proved to be too much for my body to handle. I felt mostly fine, just a little short of breath here and there, which was expected at that point of pregnancy.
However, during my OB visit that week, my blood pressure was high and I had significant swelling in my face, hands, legs, and feet.

Needless to say, my OB was now worried.
Like, high-key red alert worried.
She wrote me off of work for a week until she re-evaluated me.

Many people would panic at this point.

I was concerned about my health, sure.
However, I was more concerned that she might keep me out of work until my delivery date, because that would only give me about a month at home with my newborn before having to return to work.
How could I have a newborn, learn how to breastfeed, go through the rollercoaster of postpartum emotions, deal with sleep deprivation, and return to work only a few short weeks later?
That would be devastating!

Luckily, at the next visit I had lost 7lbs of fluid and looked much better, so my OB was okay with me returning to work.
YAY!

I ended up stopping work 2 weeks later because my blood pressure increased again.
I was also feeling more short of breath, and the swelling had returned.

Bright side: at least I went back to work for 2 more weeks instead of staying home wasting my leave time.

By the end of my pregnancy with Lena, I had gained a whopping 54 pounds!

So yeah, that was not my favorite part of pregnancy.

I am now a little over 3 months postpartum and I have lost 36 of those extra 54 pounds. I’m feeling more and more like myself every week. I’m learning to be patient with my body and to appreciate the journey that it’s going through.

I realize that I went through a tremendous physical change; and while some women snap back within a few short weeks of delivering their babies, it takes other women a little longer, and that’s okay.

Ladies, my tip to you: ignore the pressure of society to need to immediately “snap back” into your pre-pregnancy body (or better).
Sure, you can strive to be back to your old self, but shouldn’t be the highest priority on your list (unless your career requires you to look a certain way).
You have a new life to take care of, while simultaneously continuing to do the hundreds of other daily activities that you do.
It’s okay to take it slow.
It’s okay to rest.
It’s okay to be exactly how you are.
No matter what state your postpartum body is in, it is perfectly imperfect, because you’re human.
Love yourself. Love your journey. And most importantly, love that/those little baby/babies that you have just recently given birth to.

Love,
Meg

Intro to Motherhood

The first month of motherhood taught me:

•Patience

-with my body: the first two weeks I was still very sore, tired (wait, that hasn’t changed), and my body was slowly recovering…losing excess fluid, organs shifting back into place, etc.
I was happy to have my body back to myself, but I had to learn to take things slowly since it was nowhere near back to pre-pregnancy status.
-with my baby: she’s new here this time. She’s learning me, and I’m learning her. Figuring out what she needs with each different cry is a constant guessing game, but I’m getting better at it.
-with my emotions: because the rollercoaster starts when I least expect it. Postpartum hormones are strong and unpredictable. I cried on the way home from the hospital because Lena was crying in the car seat and I couldn’t take her out to console her. That’s so unlike me. I’m a NICU nurse, I’m used to babies crying. In fact, truthfully I’m kinda numb to it…but something about hearing your own baby cry breaks your heart (especially 2 days postpartum). So I lost it for a minute…or 10, but laughed about it later that day. I still have my moments when I cry with her because she’s screaming from gas pains.
Then there’s the emotional cry “OMG I just love her so much!”
On the other hand, there’s the laugh attacks; sometimes at random things, but most of the time, at her. She makes the most entertaining faces I’ve ever seen, and I lose it lol.
She’s been giggling in her sleep since day 3, and it warms my heart every time. She’s extremely smiley, too. She lives up to her middle name meaning “Happy One”
•Love

– for my daughter: obviously, but such an understatement. The amount of love I feel for Lena is unmatched. She is perfect to me. She’s the cutest, sweetest little person I have ever encountered.
-for my husband: watching him take care of her, play with her, and love her, makes me love him even more.
-for my mother: because motherhood, although abundantly beautiful, is the toughest hood there is; and I finally have a glimpse of how much she loves me, how much energy this takes, and how much she cares to do it all so selflessly. She’s been extremely helpful and is always there for us.
-for my father: I admire his love for his granddaughter and how hyper excited he is that she’s here.
-for my sister: her love for her niece was immediate and so full.
She helps me out and deals with my sometimes bossy requests, without saying a word-and I know she often wants to; ditto my husband.
•Gratitude

– that I was able to carry her for 39weeks

-that she is 100% healthy

-that I am 100% healthy and able to care for her

-that I am able to provide breastmilk for her
-for all the family and friends who love her already
I’m overall grateful for my life, and the people in it!

 

 

(written 3/11/18)