Dear Snooki,

I read what you said about breastfeeding during an interview on Good Morning America:

“I’m just scared…. My friend did and she said it was so painful … but I definitely want to pump because it’s the best nutrients for the baby…. It’s kind of like you’re a cow and you’re just milking.”

This veteran breastfeeder is here to assure you it isn’t always painful (and it shouldn’t be painful). If it is, you should seek the help of a certified lactation consultant as soon as possible, in addition to finding a friend who was successful with breastfeeding and is willing to both cheer you on and give you practical advice. Someone you’re not afraid to show your boobs to–which I’m guessing would be plenty of your friends, actually.

Anywho… breastfeeding isn’t scary at all–once you get the hang of it. Ok, ok, the first few weeks are a little weird and crazy (but not what I’d call “scary”). I mean, there’s (potentially) the leaking and the trouble latching and the round-the-clock feedings. But once the baby and you get a rhythm going, your confidence grows and you start to feel like you actually might know what the hell you’re doing. Soon enough, you might find you’re doing it in your sleep!

And the oxytocin (aka, the “love hormone”)! It’s like your brain is fist pumping. Really!

If you ask me (which would be really something, wouldn’t it??), breastfeeding was less scary than pumping. Sure, I got the hang of pumping, too, but I never enjoyed it like I came to enjoy breastfeeding. It was cold and loud and inconvenient–and I did feel like a cow (and who wants that?!). It was the opposite of nursing a baby. I did it because I needed to, not because I loved it. This feeling is also opposite to how I felt about nursing my son.

I nursed my son for 2 years and 9 months. If breastfeeding were scary or painful, trust me, I would have quit long ago. Pain isn’t really my thing.

I could ramble on and on about how breastfeeding isn’t really scary, but let me just stop and give you the best advice I have when it comes to nursing your little one:

Try it for a month, with a lactation consultant on speed dial. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

When it comes to being a first-time mom, a whole lot of things are scary. And I think that’s normal. And it goes away eventually.

 

 

It’s World Breastfeeding Week! World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in over 170 countries! I am so excited about this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, probably because it might be my final one during which I’m actually nursing. Given Jax’s sleep issues, who knows whether there will be any more babies for me. I need some amazing sleep for a few years first! (And then, I might not want to give that up for a newborn!)

There are a few things you can do to participate in World Breastfeeding Week. Here is what I’m doing:

 

celebrate-wbw-npn-450

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network. (Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

 

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Attend a La Leche League meeting. My local LLL meets this Wednesday, but because I missed 1.5 days of work last week due to being sick & being sleep deprived, I have to skip this one. I’m pretty sad about it. Go in my honor!
  • Nurse in public. Or at least smile at anyone you see nursing in public.
  • Check in on a new mom to see how breastfeeding is going and offer up your best tips.
  • Donate some pumped milk if you have any to spare or can pump a little extra.
  • Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you can be supportive of breastfeeding families you know. Get creative in doing this. Support can mean giving a hug or making a phone call or dropping off a box of Mothers’ Milk Tea or anything you want!

 

What are some other things we can do to spread awareness and celebrate breastfeeding? How are you celebrating breastfeeding this week?

After breastfeeding for 22 months, I think it’s finally time to attend my first La Leche League meeting this week. Why?

Because I now have enough experience to possibly help others. I’ve handled nipple shields, breastfeeding after a c-section, pumping at work, clogged ducts (over & over & over), nursing strikes, reverse cycling, overactive letdown, and probably a bunch of other hurdles I’m forgetting–selective amnesia!

Because I want to provide support to moms who need it. Support is crucial to breastfeeding success. And since I’m not in a position at this time to pursue the IBCLC credential, this is another good, easy way to help.

Because it seems like a great way to meet women with interests similar to mine (well, at least one interest). I definitely need to get out more.

Because I’m curious.

Because it’s been a goal of mine for 22 months. Time to cross it off the list!

Because the leader of my local group called me and we had such a nice conversation. And when she said she’d love for me to come because having a full-time working mother who nursed and pumped and is breastfeeding a toddler would benefit the group, I admit I swelled with pride for a second and was sold on the idea of attending the group. Why shouldn’t I pat myself on the back? What I’ve done is hard. I’m proud of my accomplishment. Just the right amount of proud. :)

Have you ever been to an LLL meeting? I’d love to hear all about your experience!

 

This post is part of the breastfeeding blog hop over at Life With Levi. Check it out!

I thought I’d seen the last of my trusty ol’ pump back in September 2010. But then my company sent me to New Orleans for a conference, and I was gone for 3 nights/4 days, requiring me to reunite with my pump.

It didn’t go well.

Fortunately, I wasn’t pumping to save the milk for Jax, as he’d given up drinking expressed milk ages ago (I have no idea why). I was merely pumping to maintain my supply while we were apart for so long for the first time ever, in case Jax wanted to pick up where we left off upon my return (I wasn’t sure if he’d wean while I was away).

But no matter when I pumped in New Orleans or for how long, I could barely get more than 2 ounces at a time, from both breasts combined. Ouch. I had even relied on playing a slide show of photos of Jax while I pumped, which was my trick back when I pumped daily at work. I couldn’t understand it–my supply was excellent, so why was I going up to 10 hours at a time and then getting only 1-2 ounces?! Mind-boggling, right?

I started to worry that maybe my supply wasn’t what I thought it’d been for all this time. Maybe Jax is barely getting anything. How would I even know if this were the case? His speech isn’t exactly eloquent enough at 22 months to say, “Yo mom! Where’s all the milk?” My mommy guilt reared its ugly head–is this why he’s so skinny? He nurses all the time, but is he just not getting enough? Oh, the questions!

Then it dawned on me that my body shouldn’t be expected to respond to the pump, having not pumped in 9 months. Surely that’s the reason, right? And not that my supply is practically gone?

Jax shows no indication of wanting to wean. He is still obsessed with “nummies.” So I guess my supply is fine or he’s using nursing as comfort, rather than as nourishment.

Oh, breastfeeding. Even when it’s easy, there are always challenges and questions. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

The hubs and I are going away in June for 3 nights/4 days. I already wrote about it here, so I won’t get into the details. But as the trip is rapidly approaching, now is the time to start to truly prepare myself for it.

Top priorities on the trip preparation to do list:

Have at least 2 or 3 practice overnight stays away from Jax. Tonight, my mom (aka “the Nana”) is having Jax sleep over her house. This is our first night apart his whole life! Of course I’m anxious, but it’s only 1 night so I think we’ll get through it in one piece.  I hope my mom realizes there WILL be phone calls and texts. Thank goodness for the iPhone & Face Time if needed. I hope my husband can distract me enough to keep me from calling 10 times. Maybe he should give me a sleeping pill. 21 months later and I still want to be with my kid almost every waking second. Is that nuts? Nah, it’s love!

Consider what to do about breastfeeding. I called my lactation consultant the other day and we chatted about my gameplan for this 4-day trip (wean? don’t wean?). I’ll confess it here for the first time–I think I’m ready to wean. Gasp, did I really just say that?! Cue the guilt! Mostly ready, anyway. I know I will miss breastfeeding my baby so much. I never expected to feel so strongly about/love breastfeeding or to be so successful with it. And my LC raved about how well I’ve done for so long, especially being a full-time working mom. It was so awesome to receive such high praise from her and it made my entire day. I guess I haven’t really patted myself on the back yet for breastfeeding Jax for 21 months.

Anyway, I’ve been hoping Jax would wean himself but as June nears, I am doubtful of this easy way out. Now I’m considering using my time apart from him AS our weaning period. However, that might be tough on him, combined with my being gone for so long; I wonder if it’s just too much at once. But I do underestimate myself & my kid and I worry too much, so chances are good he would do great with both the lack of mommy & the lack of nummies. Nana will just have to distract the hell out of him.

So here is my potential gameplan as far as the weaning goes: Between now & June, try to decrease both the number of feedings and the length of feedings gradually. I’d love to cut out the 5pm feeding, since it’s so close to dinner and sometimes curbs his appetite. But I’m not going to push myself or Jax too hard on this. A few days before I go away, I am going to start drinking some No More Milk tea and take a box of it with me on my trip. Hopefully this will help reduce my milk supply. My LC also recommended I can take Sudafed if I want to achieve the same result (but it makes me jittery, so probably not). Maybe, just maybe, Jax will decide it’s not worth nursing anymore and wean himself before I even leave! I will also pack my hand pump, not my Medela Pump In Style Advanced, to ease discomfort while I’m away.

Ugh, just writing about weaning saddens me, truth be told. I know that I don’t have to let a 4-day trip mean the end of breastfeeding for us, and if I weren’t going away I am sure we’d continue until at least the recommended age of 2 years. But there is that part of me that is looking forward to putting on pretty bras again and drinking more than 1 glass of wine with dinner. It’s margarita season, afterall! (I joke–I’m not really looking forward to weaning just so I can drink. Really.) I do really need to get my guilt in check, because 21 months (22 if we continue up until my trip in June) is truly awesome and something I should be proud of. But it’s my style to push aside the happy thoughts and be consumed by guilt! Ha!

If weaning doesn’t happen on my time table, I’ll truly be OK with continuing to nurse for a little while longer. I want our ending to breastfeeding to be as peaceful and joyous as the whole experience has been (well, not counting those first few months as we learned what to do).

If you’ve weaned a toddler, please help a mutha out and share some tips!