Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Breastfeeding Journey

I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had a plan. I had decided I would try to breastfeed. When I say "try" I meant.. I had very little expectations that I would actually be successful with breastfeeding. I figured I would give it a shot, but I always knew deep down inside, I would be alright with formula. I didn't really expect much for myself, my mother never breastfed. But I wanted to try. 

And so my journey began... Landon was born on June 11, 2012. I was 35.5 weeks pregnant when my water broke in the middle of the night. It all happened so fast! You can read about my birth story HERE. The minute they laid him on my chest and I looked at him... I was in LOVE!!!

Landon was 7lbs 5oz when he was born. Healthy, Happy and Handsome. He was perfect! The nurse asked me if I wanted to try nursing and I said "YES!" he latched immediately. He was a natural and it all seemed like he was content, but after a few attempts, they let me know that his sugar level was very low and he needed to eat immediately. 

After only being out of my womb for 20 minutes, he had chugged 1oz of formula and they put him back to breast where he stayed for 1 hour... "nursing" before he fell asleep. 

The nurses came in after 2 hours to let me know it was time to breastfeed again. This time, they had a giant pump for me. They had a plan... at this moment in my life, I realized that feeding my baby is no longer just a "thing", it was now a job... and it was a complicated job. 

My new game plan to help my milk come in:

1. nurse each side for 20 minutes.
2. let husband feed 1 oz of formula 
3. pump both sides for 20 minutes each
4. wash parts and set to dry
5. repeat EVERY 1 hour 20 minutes until milk comes in.

The evening after Landon was born, My aunt came to visit. She is from Japan, she came armed with a hot water heater, wash cloths and a bowl... she massaged me with a hot wet towel for 45 minutes to help my milk come AND to avoid swelling, soreness and I firmly believe that this method not only helped me, it prevented me from getting any breast infections- I had zero clogged ducts, No nipple cracking... In fact, my mom continued to help me with this massage for 5 days until my milk officially came in.

yes, it took 5 whole days before my milk came in. On the 5th day, Landon started rejecting formula. He was getting enough breast milk. it made life so much easier! 

I continued to nurse and he got milk drunk. It was perfect. He was happy, I was happy.. life was good.

During my first month, Landon had gained 4lbs. Our pediatrician was very happy with us! As we chugged along, we came across a few hiccups! Around the 4th week, Landon developed reflux. We called a lactation consultant to see why he would spit up his entire meal... She advised us to nurse at a 90 degree angle, burp and let him sit up for 20 minutes... we did this every 2-3 hours for weeks until he stopped. turned out, he was over eating. oops!

Once the reflux was under control, I was approved to return to work. I was only 6 weeks postpartum and I had zero milk stored. I had 3 days to nurse and pump enough last Landon for his first day without me. As I went back to work, I struggled with nursing, pumping, storing and working. IT WAS HARD! I didn't work in a normal office, I worked in my car driving from place to place! You can read about my struggles with work and breastfeeding HERE. There were days where I cried over how little support I got from my job.

At 12 weeks, Landon began rejecting bottles. It was the hardest 2-3 days of my life. He had been on bottles since day one. I didn't understand why he refused them while I worked! We switched at least 10 bottles until he accepted a different brand.. at 5 months, he rejected AGAIN! from 5 months until I weaned, I had him take 1 bottle a night. 

Once we started solids, I continued to nurse until his 1st birthday. We nursed 4x a day and he ate 3 meals plus snacks. He has such a great appetite too, weighing 21lbs by his first birthday! Our Pediatrician recommended we drop 1 session every 3 weeks, estimating that I could end my journey around 14 months. And that's exactly how we weaned. 

We started consistently offering sippy cups of water throughout the day. We made the decision to provide almond milk instead of cows milk. He took 2-3oz of almond milk with every meal in a cup with a straw. When we dropped our night time bottle at 13 months, he accepted 4-6oz of warm almond milk with a straw. At 13 months, all of our bottles were no longer available for him. He cried for his "bah bah" for days. begging for a bottle. He was so happy to nurse in the morning! 

On the very last day of nursing, we laid in bed for an hour. We just snuggled and hugged. I had my husband wake up with him for a week- where they started a morning routine: Diaper, breakfast, Mickey Mouse club... 

Landon Stopped asking to nurse after a week of weaning. He will ask for milk and we give him milk in a cup. It was so easy for him to just let go. And that was that.

14 months of breastfeeding! I did it!!  It started off rocky with a few speed bumps here and there, but it became the sweetest journey. I couldn't have been more grateful for the experience and I hope my next journey will be just as easy, I'm sure it wont. 

The only advice I have for mama's out there who want to breastfeed is... give yourself short term goals. I started off day by day... I was completely satisfied with formula and I was determined to try but I was never disappointed in myself. I stayed realistic. After the 3rd month, I gave my self monthly goals. Every month I accomplished, I went for a massage, went shopping, WE CELEBRATED. 

If you are determined, keep a healthy diet. I ate tons of steel cut oatmeal (made in a crock pot over night) with flax seed, I made mothers milk cookies, Tons of avocado, quinoa, meat and I made sure I ate 3 meals a day plus snacks, I kept hydrated with 8 cups of ice cold water a day, coconut water and relaxed. Make sure you monitor your food intake. Watch to see if the baby had issues with reflux, allergies, gassiness and fussiness. Landon could not function with super salty foods, garlic and spinach. Once we went green and ate REALLY healthy, he thrived!

If you have to return to work, like I did, make sure you pump at the same time everyday. You want to pump at for at least 20-30 minutes sessions. I would pump on my way to work (stuck in traffic) and usually around lunch time. I never skipped meals and I had a mini hello kitty fridge in my trunk along with an outlet. I sat in the back to pump for privacy. 

Find a support group where other mamas breastfeed. I found that the Nordstroms Women's Lounge area always had 2-3 mothers nursing. It was my go to place for human interaction with other new moms. It was great for encouragement! It also helped that a few of my friends were either Exclusively breastfeeding or pumping and we were each other's cheerleaders. I was invited into a new mama's forum called "lil' mamas" and they helped me through my pregnancy and my first year as a mother! 

I also utilized my hospitals Lactation Support Center, My Pediatrician recommended a Lactation consultant and of course, my girlfriends, cousins and all the information I received from my breastfeeding class I took the morning before Landon was born. There were days where I wanted to stop and my girlfriends would give me the encouragement to keep going.

Lastly, make sure you include your husband in on your plans to breastfeed. I was 150% supported by my husband. He did bottle duty while I pumped and nurse. I don't think I could've gone so long without him. Anytime I needed him to help or I needed a shoulder to cry on because my supply was low, he was there. It was amazing!

So good luck mama's... If you go for 24 hours, 1 week, 3 months, 1 year, or 2+ years, be proud of yourself for trying!


  1. Great story. It's hard work (I nursed my first for 16 months and my 2nd for 12 months) but it's a great bond :) I'm so happy I did it.

    Congrats to you too!

    1. Thank you! It is hard work, but well worth the efforts and I'm so blessed to have had the opportunity to do it!

  2. OMG...HE is SOOO cute:) I'm so glad you stopped by today and said hello:) That is amazing that you got to travel around Vietnam. Seriously I fell in love with that country! It's amazing! love Katie