Breastfeeding Continued

Nursing Aversion and Self-Weaning

15194530_700964844452_1314285736540861484_oFor me nursing was an amazing experience. If you read my previous posts about nursing, you know how truly special it is for me. Since I started nursing Maddox more than three ears ago, I have had only a few months between Maddox and Marlow when I was not nursing.  Even so, I have experienced something that many others have as well, and I wanted to tell you about it so that you know it doesn’t have to spoil it for you.

While Maddox was still nursing full time, I experienced nursing aversion. This term describes a period or phase when nursing can seem really annoying. For me, it was an overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be touched at all. By anyone! When it was time to nurse I felt instantly annoyed (for absolutely no reason) and had this feeling like my skin was crawling. It was a terrible feeling! For me, it only lasted for a few weeks off and on. It wasn’t ever time I nursed. It was maybe every 3rd or 4th nursing session. It was extremely frustrating for me.

I knew I didn’t want that to be my last experience with nursing because up until then it had been such an amazing bonding experience. I knew this phase would pass and it did. So whenever I felt those feelings coming on, I would do everything I could to distract myself. I would watch TV, play on my phone, read a book, whatever made me feel better. I would constantly tell myself that the feeling would pass, that it had nothing to do with Maddox, and that I had to think about something else. If I was feeling extremely overwhelmed, I would take a minute to myself. I would give Maddox to Josh and take a bath or go for a quick shopping trip because shopping helps everything, right? I don’t know how many other people have gone through this or if this is how their experience was, but this is how it was for me. And happily it did not last long.

I nursed Maddox until he was about 2 1/2. When he was almost 2, he stopped nursing during the day and only nursed to fall asleep at nap or bed time. Then a few months after that it was only at night. Then slowly he stopped completely. I knew I wanted to let him stop when he was ready. I didn’t want it be something that was taken away or that he missed. For many reasons, but mainly because I was pregnant with Marlow and knew he’d soon be seeing me nurse her, I didn’t want there to be any jealously associated with it. I was fully prepared to tandem nurse if he wasn’t ready to stop, but to be completely honest, I didn’t really want to. But I would have.

Maddox ended up basically weening himself.  I made a conscience decision to never say “No” because I think then they want it more. Maddox had always nursed to sleep so changing that habit had to happen slowly. However, I did do a few things to “encourage him.” We started distracting him around bedtime. We tried to tire him out by letting him stay up later, or by being super active, carrying him in his carrier (he often fell asleep baby wearing), or driving in the car so he would fall asleep without nursing. After a few weeks of distracting him at bedtime he stopped asking completely and would just snuggle right up to me to fall asleep. There were a handful of times at the very end he did ask (he called it going “night night”) and I would say “ok, in just a minute.” Or “please snuggle with me first.” And he would fall asleep.

In the end, I’m glad we let him do it himself with encouragement. I never had an issue with him once I started nursing Marlow. And I have not experienced any aversion with Marlow either.  Nursing can be such a great experience! If you are going through similar issues I urge you to work your way through them and know that in the end, it can be well worth it.

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Nursing in Public

If you are nursing your baby, what do you do when you are out and about?  Do you try to find somewhere private? Do you use a cover? Or do you just nurse and not worry about it?  I do a mix of all three.

With Maddox, more often than not, I went somewhere private to nurse him. I completely support a woman’s right to nurse her baby anywhere! However, as a first time mom, I wasn’t as comfortable nursing in public all the time. There were many times I nursed Maddox in the bathroom. And I have to admit I hated it. I felt so isolated, left out, and dirty (public bathrooms are so gross)! Trying to nurse a new baby while not touching anything is incredibly hard! When Marlow was born I was tired of going to the bathroom to nurse. While I have done it on rare occasions, I decided I was tired of leaving dinner, missing conversations and searching for nursing room while shopping.

I have a love hate relationship with nursing covers. Maddox absolutely hated having his head covered, so nursing covers were rarely an option. I spent more time fighting to keep the cover on him and I usually ended up exposing my boobs a lot more than if I’d left the cover off completely. Marlow doesn’t mind the cover as much but since it’s summer I get so hot I rarely want to use it myself!

With Marlow, I have mastered the art of nursing in public. Feeding your baby is the most important thing. You shouldn’t have to worry about how much of your boob is exposed. Let’s face it, the baby’s head covers most of it and you are really showing less boob than most low cut shirts. It really shouldn’t matter at all, but I do prefer (for myself) to nurse discreetly. I find I’m completely able to do this if I wear a nursing tank top and another shirt layered over. The tank top provides access and the shirt provides enough cover to keep me discreet. With this method I’m able to easily nurse anywhere and have virtually nothing exposed.

I also seek locations that make it easier.  For example, in a restaurant I find I can sit in a booth, turn slightly toward the wall, and be totally comfortable. One more consideration for me is who else is present. Depending who I am with can sometimes dictate how I nurse (covered, uncovered, or in a different location).  I’m not trying to make a statement. I’m not “looking for attention” while nursing. And I’m not trying to tell other mothers how to nurse in public. I’m just feeding my baby. I do what feels most comfortable for me at the time, and I encourage  other mothers to do what feels most comfortable for you and your baby!

*Photo above features my go-to Bravado nursing cami.*

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My Nursing Favorites

Planning to breastfeed? If so, these are my favorite nursing must haves!

Nursing Pillow: I used Maddox’s boppy pillow. It doubles as a nursing pillow and positioning pillow for babies to lay on. Here’s the boppy pillow I used.  Extra bonus- They come with tons of super cute covers!

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Nipple Cream: Buy LOTS of nipple cream! I applied the cream immediately after nursing Maddox and reapplied throughout the day. Here’s the one I used: Nipple Cream

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Nipple Gel Pads: If I wasn’t nursing or pumping I was wearing these gel pads. I also used these  hot-cold therapy pads for extra comfort.

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Nursing tops: I literally lived in these nursing tank tops. They were super comfy, convenient for nursing and cute! It also has a soft, built-in bra. (I also lived in nursing maxi dresses and I have a follow-up post about my other favorite nursing friendly clothing company coming soon!)

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Nursing Bras: I wasted a ton of money on nursing bras before Maddox was born. I thought I wanted cute bras with underwire. I was wrong! I wore these comfy nursing bras almost exclusively for the first few months.

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Breast Pump/Accessories: If you’re planning to go back to work, or pump so your partner can join in feeding time, or just trying to increase your milk supply you need a pump. I got mine for free through my insurance at www.yummymummy.com. Check it out before you go buy one! I got the exact one I had planned on purchasing at the store and it was completed free! I got the Medela Pump in Style and loved it. I also got accessories like Medela bottles, milk storage bags (to freeze milk), and the Medela Calma Breastfeeding Nipples.

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WATER: Always keep it close by! The second I would start nursing Maddox I would be overwhelmed with how thirsty I instantly became! It sounds ridiculous but it’s true! (I always kept snacks handy too!)

I’m obsessed with Amazon so most of my links for products are from there but you can buy all these at most other baby stores or online.

 

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Breastfeeding: So simple, right?!

Just a warning-this post is about BOOBS! (And not in a fun way) But more specifically about breastfeeding.

First I have to admit, I honestly thought breastfeeding would be easy. I naively assumed I just whip it out, Maddox would begin nursing and we’d have this kumbaya bonding moment. There’d be no struggles, no real learning how, and especially no pain. Wow was I wrong! While Maddox naturally knew exactly what to do, I on the other hand was the idiot. Even though my mom had nursed all 3 of us for years, I clearly had not asked her enough questions. Josh and I even took a couples’ breastfeeding class while I was pregnant but even then no one came out and said “BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARD and IT MAY HURT!”

There are many reasons that some women aren’t able to breastfeed. Luckily, I had no medical issues or concerns that conflicted with breastfeeding. My main issue was how simple I really assumed it was going to be. When Maddox was born I immediately attempted nursing within the first hour (like all my books, classes, and experienced moms had told me to). Right away Maddox knew exactly what to do! However, his technique (specifically his latch) needed a little work. I kept attempting to nurse him every few hours but something just didn’t feel right. Honestly- It hurt like HELL!! I later learned this was partially due to the way I was errr…built…that made latching harder for him. Luckily my mom (and experienced breastfeeding champion herself) was there and recommended I talk to the lactation specialist at the hospital. The first one that came in was slightly helpful (but mom wasn’t impressed) so we asked for another one and let me tell you- She knew her stuff! She was an expert! She was beyond helpful and even talked to Josh about ways to help and comfort me while we all got the hang of it as well.

By the time we left the hospital Maddox and I still didn’t have this whole thing figured out but the nurses were happy with how he was doing and we were happy with the knowledge we had gained to feel comfortable continuing to work on it at home. The biggest thing I did wrong was to let Maddox continue to constantly nurse without properly latching. Both josh and my mom noticed how tense my entire body was getting every time I would feed Maddox so they would do everything they could to help me relax- i.e. shoulder massages, turning on the tv to distract me, talking to me, having me try Maddox in different positions, and having me stop feeding him so he could relatch until it didn’t hurt. I was so worried about him getting enough to eat that I ignored how uncomfortable it was for me. Boy was that a bad idea. Nursing him “the wrong way” for just a few days had caused cracking, bleeding, bruising, and blistering…. Talk about painful!! At that point there really wasn’t anything I could do. He had to eat, so I had to nurse. Now supplementing with formula, even temporarily, is definitely an option. However, I had decided and was very determined to breastfeed exclusively. There’s absolutely nothing right or wrong about either option. That’s just what I decided was best for us.

So in the beginning it was hard but for me it was totally worth the pain! I soon learned that nursing fixes everything! Hunger, sadness, tiredness, frustration, pain, you name it! I never had to worry about packing bottles or buying formula. I also feel like it really helped Maddox and me to bond, not to say people who don’t breastfeed are missing that bond, but for us, it created a closeness that I can’t explain. It was a lifesaver for us, in so many ways and I’m so glad Maddox and I were able to experience it! Fingers crossed things go smoothly with Marlow, but we’ll see.

After a few months of proper feedings, lots of patiences, terrific support from Josh, and a boatload of nipple cream and gel pads we were home free! Well…until teething-but that’s a whole other post. I don’t want to make these posts too long so I plan to do another post about how long Maddox nursed, when he nursed, when certain feedings started to tapper off, and how I dealt with the occasional feelings of “NO ONE TOUCH ME or I’ll scream.”

 

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