A Breastfeeding Journey

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Breastfeeding was by far more challenging, rewarding and more complicated than I expected.

With my first son I was unable to breastfeed longer than two weeks which at the time was a huge disappointment. I realized later that I was my own worst enemy when it came to the supply issues we were dealing with. Mommies, make sure you are drinking enough water, eating balanced meals and taking care of your body if you want to have a good milk supply! My postpartum depression kept me from taking adequate care of myself resulting in a low milk supply. (I could go on for days about how unprepared I was for the postpartum depression.) Lesson learned. 

Round two with my second son was a 100% different scenario. The confidence you gain from already experiencing sooo many firsts … first hospital experience, first cold, first boo boo, first scared me half to death scene, first all nighter, and so many more, molds you into the mom veteran you are! This knowledge and experience made the second go round so much more relaxed and I just knew I could breastfeed this time. I knew that I could not let postpartum get in the way and I needed to put myself first.

A Breastfeeding Journey | Columbia SC Moms Blog

Thrilled that he latched without problems, aware of the initial nipple pain I was going to endure, a good game plan of how to cope with that pain, balanced meals, plenty of water, and confidence is what gave me the tools to have a successful first few months of breastfeeding. I was elated! Looking into those blue eyes while he nursed, the power to put him to sleep, feed him without bottles or formula, and the bond (THAT BOND!!) made be feel great! I kept my goals short … first goal was a month, then three months, then six months, then a year.

A Breastfeeding Journey | Columbia SC Moms Blog

Between three and six months we started to face the challenges related to getting a babysitter while breastfeeding to enjoy personal time. Even though I pumped too and had a nice stash of frozen breastmilk, he absolutely would not take it from a bottle at all.

For a long time our outings were 2-3 hours tops and definitely not in the evenings or nights unless we wanted to come home to an utterly miserable crying child. At this point it felt like he was obsessed and he refused any other milk from a bottle or cup. He enjoyed some table food but wanted nothing but the breasts.

Always the breasts.

It was hard. To rarely get a break that first year was tough, and when I did get one I had anxiety that he was miserable or screaming. My original goal was one year but he was still going strong so I decided to stick with it a few more months. At this point I did begin to feel like I wanted my personal space, and body back to myself. I wanted to wear outfits that maybe didn’t allow easy access to a breast. I missed wearing some of my dresses.

A Breastfeeding Journey | Columbia SC Moms Blog

He finally started taking a cup of juice, water, tea or milk around 15 months and began to do a lot better when I had to leave him. This was such a huge relief (FREEDOM!).

I had officially reached my goal of 18 months of breastfeeding and began to think about weaning. It was time, but he was still such an avid breastfeeder. I spoke to many of my friends that had similar scenarios with their children and thank goodness for their amazing advice. Most of them said that I needed to leave him for a few days to wean him. The “cold-turkey” approach. This made sense but still gave me a lot of anxiety.

I had a destination wedding to be in when he was 20 months and could totally use that trip to wean him, but I figured I would at least try to wean him before then. No luck with that. I tried distracting him, refusing him, offering him almost anything else, but he would scream at me non-stop, clawing at my chest like his life depended on it. Well, it was going to have to happen, the “cold-turkey” wean. I didn’t see any other way. Everyone assured me he would be okay. 

So, with a mountain of anxiety in my chest, I left for the destination wedding. Naturally, he was a little fussy in the nights but otherwise he was 100% fine without me. What I wasn’t prepared for was the waves of emotional, hormonal changes I would feel. Sure, I knew my breasts would be sore, but I didn’t realize I was going to be an emotional wreck half the time. You could have paid me a compliment and I would have cried. I kept thinking what is wrong with me?! Turns out you can actually have depression from the shift in hormones from weaning.

Luckily, the emotional roller coaster only lasted a week or so but wow I needed a lot of comfort food during that time. When I returned from my trip five days later he still wanted to nurse, but I could distract him or offer him something else easily only resulting in a milk soaked shirt. After about a week I considered us completely weaned. Body and mind were back to normal. We did it! We completed our breastfeeding journey of 20 months.

The breastfeeding community is such a strong force of nature. I could not have done it without my friends who were either breastfeeding or had breastfed. We were always there for each other and it made it so much better to have friends who knew exactly how demanding of your time and body breastfeeding can be. That support system helped me achieve my breastfeeding goals. 

So mommies, I understand both sides of the fence. Regardless if you are finding time to clean/prepare bottles, buying containers of formula, waking up in a puddle of milk or pumping at work … challenges will be faced and the rewards are great. We are all in this together! 

A Breastfeeding Journey | Columbia SC Moms Blog

What did your breastfeeding journey look like?

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Born and raised in Columbia, Paige runs a photography and graphic design business from home while raising two young boys with her husband, Stephen. Most days you will find her juggling between her boys, cooking, finding time to read a book, editing a photo, or enjoying a conversation with her friends. A graduate from the University of South Carolina in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Studio, Paige finds creative ways to use her talents to take her career to the next level in-between building forts, nap times, and tears. She enjoys exchanging stories about the day to day joy and challenges of motherhood. Ashton (4yo) and Boone (18mo) keep her busy but Paige always finds ways to make the most of this mom life.

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