Breastfeeding is one of the greatest experiences for me during early motherhood. I breastfed my eldest until she was almost 18 months and my little one year old until he was 8 months. Breast milk has been such a wonderful source of nutrients and healing for my babies. My experience breastfeeding my son was a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, both experiences were beautiful and exhausting, but I loved every moment of watching them nurse.
I can say that I was a little obsessed with pumping. I purchased a hand pump from Amazon and a double electric pump from my insurance company. I’d pump on a regular schedule if my little fatso wasn’t eating and if I wasn’t sleeping. I got little rest and I put a great deal of pressure on my already exhausted body. I pumped everywhere, yes that’s my car! Here I explain why that wasn’t the best idea.
I remember around this time last year I’d just headed back to work after an extended maternity/medical leave and I was overwhelmed with sadness. The sadness stemmed from a couple of areas. #1 I hated the job I was returning to. #2 Obviously I didn’t want to leave my son and finally, I knew because of medication I was scheduled to resume taking I would have to stop nursing him. My goal throughout my maternity leave was to stockpile enough breast-milk to last a year. I didn’t meet that goal, but I did have enough to last him 3 months after I stop physically taking him to the breast. So I ended with enough milk to last me until he was 8 months old. Please let me explain my journey to the picture below.
Breast Milk Storage
The picture above shows how I stored my milk.
I used Lansinosh bags and a shoe container in the beginning. Eventually, I changed to 16oz and 4oz Mason Jars. To help you get started here are the products I used including my pumps.
- Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set-Model # 57081
- Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, 100 Count
- Ball Mason Jars Wide-Mouth Can or Freeze – 16 oz 12pk
- Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Quilted, 4-Ounce, Set of 12
- Medela Easy Expression Hands-Free Bustier, Medium, White
- Philips Avent Manual Comfort Breast Pump
- Nature’s Way Fenugreek Seed 610 mg, Capsules 180ea
Breastfeeding: My Process
After returning to work I quit my job of 7 years the next week. (Didn’t I tell you I hated it) . I did start a new job about a 1.5 month after, but to leave was a relief.
My son was almost 3.5 months old and I insisted on exclusively giving him breast milk when I started the new job (crazy I know). The pump room at my new job was nicely laid out and private. I put myself on a strict pumping schedule. Here it is what it looked like.
Work started at 8 a.m (usually meetings in-between but I pumped at least 4 times and no less or I would leak everywhere)
- First pump 7:30 a.m at work
- Pump 10:30 a.m
- Pump 12:30 p.m.
- Pump 2:30 p.m.
- Leave work 4 p.m.
- Breastfeed 5 pmish
- Breastfeed 7pmish
- Breastfeed throughout the night
- Breastfeed around 5 am
It was a brutal schedule, but I managed to bring home around 12 oz a day and sometimes more. I drank water during my pumping scheduling and took Fenugreek. Fenugreek is a herb that helps to increase your milk supply. I suggest you do your research, I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. It worked for me and I did not have any issues with it. Once I started working and my baby was taking the bottle I did see a dip in my milk supply so the Fenugreek helped.
Coming to Grips: Weaning, Is It worse for Mom or Baby?
I will be the first to tell you I did not want to stop nursing my son. Our breastfeeding relationship had to come to an end because of my health issues. I was sad and some days, even depressed. I felt like a failure. I beat myself up about it for weeks. When I look back on it I was putting stress on myself for no reason. After I stopped pumping, which was around the 6-month mark, I started supplementing his milk with Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula Powder. It was an easy transition for him. I’d fought myself so badly and cried many nights prior, thinking what a horrible mother I must be for giving my baby formula. I just want to say for all the mother out there. You are not horrible. You are HUMAN. Just look at the schedule I was adhering too, it was stressful, to say the least. Keep in mind I was a new mom and a sick mom, I wasn’t treating myself kindly.
Weaning him from the breast was a little more difficult than it had been with my daughter. She bit me and I decide that was it no more, plus I think at almost 18 months she was over it. But he as still happily nursing and I had to tell him no. It broke my heart. Slowly offered the breast to him less and less. He would cry, I would secretly cry. It hurt, but we made it.
A word from the wise don’t sweat the small things. The most important factor in all of is this is that you remain happy and healthy so you can provide a healthy environment for your baby. Supplementing or strictly pumping is okay. If you give your child any time with breastfeeding you are doing a good job.
Seek help from your spouse, a friend, your nurse or doctor. We had to take our little guy back to the hospital the next day and a lactation coach came in and helped latch him on to me properly. With my daughter, the experience was so much different and easier. With my son I needed help and guidance, he was not able to latch properly and I immediately felt guilty. I was an experienced parent, previous nursing mom and still needed help.
Trust me with each child it is different. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance. I believe breast milk contains some type of miracle berries for babies. I’ve watched my baby have an allergic reaction from eating something and drink a bottle of breast milk and see the rash disappear. Breastfeeding is something special and if you are able to do it I encourage you.
Please if you have any questions feel free to ask, I am still seeking to get my lactation license so I can help other mothers like myself. I’m here to help.