Our Breastfeeding Journey
So, I could’ve used a cute photo of me breastfeeding Lacey for this post. But that wouldn’t be real, because I rarely breastfeed her these days! I have so much to tell you, so let’s get started…
This will be one of my final blog posts for a few months (I’m going to explain why in an Instagram post tomorrow). It was one I felt was super important to go into detail about because I get asked all the time about our journey. Here ya go, mamas!
Lacey latched like a champ at the hospital. Even though I needed a nipple shield from the start (which I was thankful for and still use when I BF her, because I never dealt with pain in that way!), breastfeeding came rather easily for us in the beginning. (Side note I'm trying to go without one for baby #2.) My milk came in five days later, I dealt with engorgement for a day or two, and we were set.
I really did enjoy breastfeeding, and part of me still does. I miss it. My friend Nicole once said to me that breastfeeding is a true labor of love, and it was a spot on description. It’s difficult at times (trying to plan things around her eating schedule, wondering if she’s getting enough milk, etc.) but there’s nothing more special in this entire world.
I decided to break this post into chunks to get into details on each time frame:
I was very lucky that Lacey and I formed a breastfeeding relationship pretty easily. I breastfed her every three hours (sometimes sooner) for the first five months of her life. We were like clockwork!
I had my little pillow set-up on the couch, and generally, she ate every three hours from 6:30/7am on. We had a night nurse for the first 10 weeks, which was amazing because it allowed me to sleep and heal in many ways. I would pump at night, and give the milk to the nurse. I breastfed Lacey round the clock for the first 10 days of her life, then when my milk was consistent, I dropped one night feeding and just pumped for the other. So I pumped before bed (around Lacey’s dreamfeed, which was at 10pm), once in the middle of the night, and resumed breastfeeding her in the morning. I dropped the middle of the night pump around the time our night nurse left so that I could sleep later once she was gone.
I started to realize there was an issue at some point between three and four months. I had SO much milk in the morning, but not a ton during the day/before bed. At my peak, I could pump 14 ounces of milk in the morning alone. That left five or six other feedings for Lacey to be fed, of which I was making 4-5 ounces. This seems like enough, but it wasn’t for her! Here’s what happened next…
Right after the four-month growth spurt, Lacey went from sleeping through the night (until at least 6am) to waking up starving around 4:30am. I didn’t know she was starving at the time. I thought it was part of the regression, etc. But now I look back and feel terrible (even though I know I shouldn’t!) because my baby girl simply wasn’t getting enough milk throughout her day.
Ryan and I decided to start giving Lacey a bottle before bed of eight ounces to make sure she was getting enough. Homegirl could throw down milk! My issue was that I was making enough milk, but the times weren’t working with her schedule. She’d drink 8 ounces in the morning (I know this from what I would pump before and after and sometimes for the full feeding out of curiosity), four ounces at other feedings, and then at night with the bottle before bed and her dream feed, she would drink a combined 10-12 ounces. She was drinking a TON of milk, and my boobies simply couldn’t keep up!
At five months, I knew I needed help. I had been experimenting with formulas since the beginning to have a backup. Lacey threw up (like the kind when you know something’s wrong, not just regular spit-up) every single one, which were all dairy based. Enter: goat milk formula. It literally saved my life.
I felt chained to Lacey in so many ways. Sure, many moms are okay with this. I loved my girl and wanted to be there for her. But slowly but surely, I was going insane. I couldn’t leave the house for longer than an hour incase she got hungry (my freezer stash went bad and I had none left at this point), and I was losing myself more by the day.
After lots of trial and error, we decided on Holle Goat Milk Formula. She loves it! Which is great, because it’s rather tart, and she now also loves goat yogurt.
By six months, I started pumping more and breastfeeding less. I dropped two pumps rather quickly. I was still making 28 ounces off of four pumps, which is pretty good from what I’ve read. By this point, Lacey was on 50% breast milk and 50% formula, and still is to this day. I was able to work up a freezer stash again too!
I started to feel human again. This was the most important reason I decided to slow down the breastfeeding. I wasn’t myself, and it was affecting both Lacey and I and our flow as mother and daughter. Once I had a bit more time to myself, and knew that Lacey was well fed since we were mostly bottle-feeding her, I felt like a totally different person.
I slowly weaned from two more pumps, and now I’m at two pumps per day. I have breastfed her here and there, but honestly, it’s more for me than her. I miss it and our bonding, but she gets so consumed with looking around everywhere that it’s become stressful for me. So I don’t do it unless it’s necessary. This is my choice and what’s worked for us, and I totally get that! To each mama their own, right?!
And now, I’m working on weaning from those two pumps (one in the morning and one at night, about 12 hours apart). Even off of two pumps, I was still making 16 ounces, but it’s dropped and now I make about 10-12 ounces. My boobies are having a hard time letting go of the night pump (which I’m weaning from first), but I’m trying!
I was sad to let breastfeeding go, and often felt like a failure because it wasn’t working for me. Why couldn’t I make it a year like many of my friends? Why was I struggling so much? As someone who’s in the health and wellness world, and watched many colleagues breastfeed for up to two years, I often compared myself and felt small.
Here’s the thing, though: I know Lacey is going to be just fine. She’ll have breast milk with what I have frozen until she’s around 10 months, and frankly, with her allergies to foods I feel that my breast milk might be doing more harm than good at times! It’s said that breastfed babies get exposure to things like nuts and dairy and this should help their immune systems in terms of allergies, but I think the opposite to be true for her. I’ll know more when we go to the allergist next week!
I learned to let go of those negative thoughts because I was doing what was best for me, and ultimately, my daughter. It took me time to realize that I had to put myself first in certain ways, and this was one of them.
All in all, as hard as some times were (like when I had the stomach flu on our vaca in Florida and had no milk and thought Lacey was going to starve!!), I really did enjoy breastfeeding. I’m excited to do it again with baby #2, especially knowing everything I know now. I’m going to drop the middle of the night pump sooner, not give a shit about breastfeeding in public so I’m not tied to our house, and go with the flow. I allowed breastfeeding to consume me, and since Lacey will be a toddler with our next baby, I won’t have the time to do this since I’ll be chasing her around!! But, you live and you learn, and I know what to expect for next time!
I’d love to hear from you mamas. What did your breastfeeding journey look like? How long did you go for? Any words of wisdom you want to share with us?