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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Breastfeeding Journey with Sophia

Before a few years ago, I never gave much thought into breastfeeding. I was so accustomed to seeing my family use formula that I didn't really understand that there was another option. In my entire life before pregnancy (so about 20+ years), I have only seen breastfeeding twice. The first time I witnessed it was from the movie "Me, Myself and I" and of course they perverted the act of breastfeeding and the second time I witnessed breastfeeding was when a family friend breastfed her baby boy when I was in high school. 

As Motherhood came in my mind more and more (before I was pregnant), I decided I would breastfeed just because of the simple fact that it was free and formula is expensive. I had no other knowledge about breastfeeding besides it being free and that sometimes you don't make enough (this is actually a common misconception of breastfeeding as only 2% of women in the ENTIRE WORLD actually cannot produce enough milk, if you are struggling with breastfeeding, it is highly suggested you seek help from a LICENSED lactation consultant as they can troubleshoot what is really going on)

When we finally found out we were pregnant (announcement here), I began reading all kinds of articles and any other sources of information I could find about breastfeeding. I was determined to be successful at it because there was no way I wanted to spend who knows how much on formula. My research led me to a book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (see my book review here), which I didn't receive until after Sophia was born but every moment since getting my hands on it, I spent digging into the book. After reading and finally understand that breastfeeding is so much more than feeding your baby, I told Anthony that my goal was to breastfeed for at least a year. 

Around six months of breastfeeding after I finished reading the Baby Led Weaning book (review to come), I told Anthony that I rather let Sophia wean herself from breast milk whenever that would be even if it's longer than a year.

Around eleven months of breastfeeding, I found out I was pregnant (announcement here). I have seen photos within the breastfeeding community of mommas tandem feeding their toddler and infant so I just assumed that is what breastfeeding would look like in our house. At my first appointment (7 weeks pregnant), my doctor recommended that I stopped breastfeeding Sophia by time I reach 20 weeks of pregnancy which broke my heart. I immediately asked for information from a friend of mine who is a midwife and she graciously sent me quite a few articles about the safety of continuing to breastfeed while pregnant. I decided at this point that I would disregard my doctor's advice and continue to breastfeed Sophia until she weaned herself.

As pregnancy symptoms started to set in such as nausea, sore nipples and exhaustion, it became harder to breastfeed Sophia and I was becoming impatient with the idea. There would be moments where I was so beyond exhausted and hungry but couldn't eat because I was feeling nauseous and Sophia would come up to me and sign "milk" but I didn't have the energy so I would turn her down. This of course didn't sit well with her and she would scream and cry and throw a tantrum. I would get a bottle and put cow milk in the bottle for her and she would throw the bottle and point at my breast. Sometimes I gave in and fed her and while she breastfed, it was these moments I would stroke her hair and know neither one of us was ready to wean and we would get through this tough patch. We fought a lot during the next few weeks over breastfeeding and it was an emotional time for me but ultimately I am glad that we have not completely weaned. 

Sophia currently breastfeeds maybe once or twice a day which is normally right when we first wake up. Depending on the day, she may ask to breastfeed more often but if we do offer a bottle instead she is now fine with either choice. Also if she is teething, she will specifically prefer to breastfeed and if she is sick, I specifically prefer to breastfeed because of the benefits.

I am amazed and so proud of how far we have come in our breastfeeding journey. During our breastfeeding journey I have:

Breastfed in public (covered and uncovered)
Breastfed on an airplane
Breastfed while traveling
Breastfed in a taxi (while it was driving, leaning over the carseat)
Breastfed while pumping
Breastfed while baby-wearing
Breastfed after she had teeth
Shared my pumped milk with another baby
Breastfed for 14 months (at this point)

I honestly do not think I would have ever gotten this far in my breastfeeding journey if it wasn't for my amazing supportive husband and finding out the knowledge of breastfeeding for myself. The best advice I can give any woman who is thinking of breastfeeding is to educate yourself. If you do the research yourself than when the nay-sayers give their opinion based on nothing or common misconceptions (trust me, they will), you have researched information you saw with your own eyes to back your decision up and that will give you comfort instead of doubting yourself based on their "advice". I have heard of so many people give up because their family member or friend made a comment that made them doubt themselves. 

Also, if you are that friend or family member that spreads advice based on what you heard, please please just keep it to yourselves. Moms (new moms especially) already doubt themselves enough as it is, they don't need you questioning their milk supply for the millionth time because again only TWO PERCENT of women in the ENTIRE WORLD do not produce enough so there is possibly another underlying problem that only a LICENSED lactation consultant can properly support the struggling momma with. The best way you can help is to offer to help them find the nearest licensed lactation consultant or just do it and pass the information on to them or even set up an in-home appointment for them. Most of all, just tell them they are doing a great job as a mom by sacrificing their body even longer to continue to nourish their baby.

What was your breastfeeding journey like? Did you exclusively breastfeed or pump? Did you supplement with formula or donor milk? What is/was your breastfeeding goals?
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