My Breastfeeding Journey

Well it's official...
I achieved my goal to breastfeed Gavin until he's 1!!! (Happy dance!)

Throughout this last year I enjoyed talking to other breastfeeding moms to hear their stories, and their experiences with everything breastfeeding (because lets be real- breastfeeding is not JUST breastfeeding, it's pumping, it's nursing bras, it's weaning...and so on.... you get it).
Everyone's breastfeeding journey is different.

That's why I decided to share my experience,
because it definitely changed over the course of time.

It started out rough. And by rough, I mean awful. And by awful, I mean- I would be on the verge of tears, cursing breastfeeding, vowing that I was "DONE WITH 'STUPID' BREASTFEEDING"
...Ok, insert, crazy-hormonal, sleep-deprived, new mama, rambling utter nonsense at 3 am.

THANK THE LORD I did not give up, like I repeatedly said I was going to.

The First 6-8 Weeks
The first 6-8 weeks were rough hell for me for numerous reasons.
Gavin didn't have the best latch right away. I had to constantly stick my little pinky in his mouth, break the suction, and start all over until he got the right latch.
He also tended to over eat (because I have a very fast let down & flow), which resulted in some massive (well, what seemed massive) spit ups.
Also, in those first couple months my supply was kind of all over the place... during the day Gavin would eat every 2-3 hours, but at night sometimes he would sleep 5+ hours. Since we opted to not wake a sleeping baby, my boobs would get huge and very full. This is when he would tend to over eat, and we even had a couple 'projectile' vomit situations. Those situations are what usually led to the "I hate this, I'm f***ing done with breastfeeding, this is so dumb, I hate it" hissy fits.
Luckily, my husband was a trooper and always told me "it's fine, you can do it, it will get better". Bless his heart.
Oh, and let's not forget about the cracked nipples, right ladies!? If you are one of the lucky few who did not have to endure this misery...I envy you! I did everything to try and prevent cracked nipples, but I wasn't so lucky. I can still remember the pain of the first few minutes of breast feeding with cracked nipples... I would have tears in my eyes because it hurt so bad. Luckily...this phase didn't last too long and I was able to survive through the pain. But it was not fun.

On a brighter note- once I figured out a good pumping schedule- which was around the 6ish week mark, that seemed to help. Gavin was sleeping through the night at around 6 weeks, so like I said before- my boobs would get so full (and hard) it was honestly almost impossible to feed him. So, I figured out that if I pumped in the morning, and Aaron gave Gavin a bottle, that worked much better!
It also gave me a much needed "break" from (what felt like constantly) feeding the baby. 

2-6 Months
So by around 2 months, breastfeeding finally seemed to just click. I wish I had a better way to explain  it, especially to a frustrated, hopeless, breastfeeding mom- but all I can really say is give it time. I truly believe it's a learning experience for both Mom AND baby. Somewhere along the line, both Gavin and I got used to this new experience, and things clicked for us.

From around the 2 month mark to the 6 month mark it was exclusive breastfeeding. Exclusive meaning no formula. We would give Gavin a bottle of pumped breast milk here or there, but it was mostly me nursing him. I also continued to pump every morning, and sometimes a couple times throughout the day...enough that I ended up with an overflowing deep freeze full of milk. More on how I accomplished that here. *If I could go back- I would incorporate more bottles into his daily routine, because he got too used to nursing... and he didn't like to take bottles or sippy cups with milk.* 

6+ Months
At 6 months we started solid food purees, and I continued breastfeeding. This is when I started to pump less... since I already had way more breast milk stored than I needed. Originally I had planned to stop breastfeeding Gavin around 6 months, and just use the pumped milk I had stored to get us to the 1 year mark (because I had enough stored to do that), but since breastfeeding was now easier than having to thaw out and clean bottles throughout the day- I stuck with breastfeeding. :)

From 6 months on it was more of the same. Less and less pumping, until around 11 months when I completely stopped pumping. Even if Gavin would skip the occasional nursing session- I wouldn't pump.
I was ready to start the weaning process.

I started by getting Gavin on a good feeding schedule, with 3 meals a day, offering him milk in a sippy cup with each meal.

Breakfast around 7:30-8.
Lunch around 11:30.
Snack around 3-4 (as soon as he wakes up from his afternoon nap)
Dinner around 6:15.
Last nursing session at 7:30, right before bed.

To begin with, while we were working on getting this schedule set, I was breast feeding right after he ate his 3 main meals.
Once we had this new eating schedule down, I started by dropping the lunch breast feeding first.
After one week I dropped the next feeding, which was the dinner breast feeding.
Again, after another week, I dropped the breakfast breast feeding.
...and the last to go was the nursing session right before bed.
Occasionally I would need to pump when first dropping a feeding, because my boobs would get so uncomfortable!! I had to pump just enough to be comfortable, and within a day or two my body got the hint to start producing less!
I was super intimidated at first about the weaning process- but it was a far easier transition than I expected.

And there you have it.
A condensed view of my breastfeeding journey!
I should also note that we started giving Gavin sippy cups of milk with every meal at 12 months old (maybe a little sooner?) and it took him a solid month before he would really drink milk from them. He would suck down juice- but milk was a different story. Even if he would hardly touch his sippy cup of milk, we still offered it to him during every meal. After a month or so, he still doesn't drink a ton of milk- but he DOES drink it! So small, patient, baby steps with that one...

Anyways, like I said at the beginning of this post- everyone's breastfeeding journey is different.
EVERY breastfeeding mom has their own individual struggles.  
I sure have, and I've chosen to be open and honest about them, mostly because it seems to give comfort to other moms struggling with the same things I did.
It's always a big relief when you realize you are NOT the only one struggling with something.
And trust me, you are not the only one struggling with breastfeeding!!!!

 So for the struggling breastfeeding Moms: 
Stick with it!
Give it time!
Talk to someone- whether it's your doctor, your mom, a friend, a lactation consultant- trust me, this will help.
But most importantly, don't give up out of frustration!!

Need more motivation to keep on keeping' on with breastfeeding?
Check out my Motivation for Breastfeeding Mamas post.

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