Wrapping Up Our Nursing Journey: Breastfeeding For a Year
Monday marked the end of our nursing journey. Vann is 2 weeks away from being a year, so I feel like he had a great start full of awesome nutrients in his first year.
Who knew nursing was so beautiful? Honestly, in high school I remember a mom coming into the library and nursing her baby in public. It would really concern me that she was out in the open feeding her baby. WOW. I had a lot of growing up to do. And I really don't blame myself for thinking that way. I didn't know anything about raising a child and the facts about breastmilk.
Now at 29 years old, I am blown away by the process of nursing a baby. A woman's body can create the nutrition necessary to raise a small human. God is so good. It's a modern day miracle.
I think some huge factors went in to help me nurse, get confidence, and continue even when it wasn't easy.
A good knowledge of the facts
I read a couple of books and attended a nursing class before Vann was born. However, there is NOTHING like life experience which brings me to the next point.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
What to Expect the First Year
A good support system
Lactation consultant, friends, and great blogs! There were times I felt like I was on an island all alone and then I would talk to a friend or read a post and got my second wind. It is hard. It is worth it.
KellyMom has some fabulous information and a good community.
A good pump
The Medela Free Style Pump was a pretty penny compared to the one I could get free with insurance. I am glad that I went ahead and purchased it. The investment also pushed me to use it and the pumping noise literally cheered me along. Think I am crazy?? Turns out other moms heard it too.
A positive environment to pump
My administrators at my school were absolutely amazing about supporting me. I know it's a law and everything that women have a place to pump and are allowed time, but they just really went above and beyond making sure I was good. I was definitely blessed with their concern and support. I lucked up having a location near my desk that I could go pump. The only part where I would run into some funny moments were when students would come into the media center looking for me and someone would tell them I was in the closet. I would hear a knock and start sweating. Another day I had a lizard staring at me from under the cabinets. At first, I thought someone was playing a joke on me, then his tail slithered. My feet went up and I just sat there in a stare off competition. Needless to say, I put all of my supplies away and got the heck out of dodge. I still have no idea where that lizard went.
A realistic, but positive mindset
Is breastfeeding easy? In some aspects yes and in other ways it's a challenge. You may not always be in the easiest setting to nurse, but at least you don't have to stop to find a bottle, fill it with formula, and warm it up before serving. I had to fill myself up with encouragement almost daily to continue giving my son the nutrition only I could provide.
A good collection of nursing supplies
From day 1 this was important, but over time I learned more and more.
1. Nipple Shield - when I think of nursing, I believe this simple invention was the reason I made it to 11 and a half months. When I found the shields it was like heaven parted and God shined a light down! It felt like a miracle. You can read more about it here.
2. Nursing pads - I purchased a box of disposable ones before Vann was born and used them sporadically, but my favorite were the cloth washable ones. They were so much softer and kinder to my skin. My friend Sara gave me a few pairs and I fell in love with them. You can buy them here.
3. Nipple Cream - there are others out there, but my favorite was Motherlove's brand.
4. Boppy or a nursing pillow - this is handy for more than nursing, and is worth the investment.
5. Supportive nursing bra - I never found one I loved and was too cheap to buy the more pricey ones, but next go round I will!
In the later months, my supply started dipping. I checked out a few things like herbal supplements, mother's milk tea, and different things in my diet. HOWEVER, water and eating protein helped me produce milk the most. Eating every 2-3 hours, keeping snacks to grab and quickly eat, and drinking a gallon or more of water would increase my supply within a day or so.
For the last piece of advice, reach out! You are not alone. It's normal to feel like you don't know all of the answers...you've never done this before.
What are some other tips or products that helped you nurse your baby?