Day Twenty-Seven | Rachael's Journey | A Colorado Breastfeeding Story
I am honored to participate in this year’s Bond Project. Breastfeeding has come to mean so much more to me than providing my babies’ nourishment. It is the most tangible form of my love flowing into my children.
When I was preparing for my oldest to arrive, I expected to breastfeed and didn’t do a whole lot of research ahead of time because I foolishly thought it would be easy. I was quickly educated after my daughter’s first “latch,” that breastfeeding is not easy by any means. I made sure to soak up as much instruction from the hospital lactation consultants before we were discharged.
I was sent home equipped with a nipple shield and lanolin. Those early days breastfeeding were almost unbearable, my nipples were cracked and bloody. I dreaded each feeding. I finally called in reinforcements and met with an independent lactation consultant. I should have called her sooner; she was so helpful! We made it through those early days and my daughter self-weaned just before her second birthday.
I would absolutely recommend seeing a lactation consultant, going to breastfeeding support groups and following La Leche League. I followed that advice with my second child and the beginning was so much better. This time around I have also joined a few Facebook groups designed to support nursing mothers. (Expressions! Lactation Services, Milky Mamas Breastfeeding Group, Badass Breastfeeders of Colorado). The groups have helped so much - mostly to know I'm not alone if I'm struggling with something like the latch, cluster feeding, hormones etc. Plus I found other resources I hadn't heard of before like Infant Risk and Kelly Mom.
My current goal is to breastfeed as long as possible, and have my son self-wean like his big sister. I also want to donate my milk this time around, I love being able to contribute to my community. I plan to go through Human Milk for Human Babies (another Facebook group). I keep my stash at about 100+ oz but will continue to donate/cycle through so that everyone receives milk that was expressed within 3 months.
I pump in the mornings most days to relieve pressure and build up a freezer stash. Pumping is certainly not my favorite task but I feel accomplished once I pour the milk in the bags. I love knowing that it serves a greater purpose- bottles for the baby, donations for other kiddos, or sometimes I use the milk in "Immune-titty" smoothies for my toddler when she is sick. I blend the milk with fresh or frozen fruit, my daughter loves them!
I appreciate and savor the middle of the night feedings so much now with my second nursling. It’s our special time for just the two of us to snuggle and connect. I can’t say that I am not still exhausted from waking up with him all night. However, I decided since these feeding are inevitable I should find a way to enjoy and appreciate them. It helps trick myself into not realizing I am running on fumes.
I nurse in public all the time. I don't go in to a separate space to eat my food, neither should my nursling. Now, I have been very fortunate to not have any issues nursing in public – but I don’t think someone else’s opinion would change my stance on it. I get more confident and comfortable each time I do it.
My best advice to other Mamas on their breastfeeding journey: You are stronger than you know! Breastfeeding and motherhood is hard, but SO worth it in the end. You won't regret trying, and there is no "failure" because everyone stops nursing eventually. You are on your own timeline and what works for you and your family is all that matters.
We'd love to hear about your journey or you can leave some encouraging words for this mama in the comments. If you would like to share your full story please contact me and we can start to plan the perfect mommy and me session to tell your story.