I wanted to write an update about how it’s going with breastfeeding. I hope that maybe our story will help some others mama somewhere out there to feel like she can make it work to continue breastfeeding when she works full time.
Jake is now almost 8 months old. We are still nursing when we are together, and I pump when we are apart. I work more than ever, so I’m still having to do a lot of pumping, but at a chunky 22 pounds, he is definitely getting plenty of mama’a milk. I really cannot sing enough praises of our awesome Hygeia pump, my Freemie cups, and the fenugreek supplement I take. I seriously don’t think there is any way that we could have made it this far without those 3 things! They make such a world of difference for a pumping mama, especially one who is gone for long hours at a time who doesn’t get breaks at work. We’ve been so fortunate that this has worked well for us, and while we still don’t have a huge stockpile of milk in the freezer, we are at least caught up enough that we can get through me being away without any of us stressing about not having enough milk. It’s tough to maintain, but I pump for 20 minutes every 2 hours at work and that keeps us going.
We are also nursing without the nipple shield now, since he was about 5 months old. I would like to offer some brilliant advice for how to wean your baby off of a nipple shield, but I don’t think there is any magic solution. We honestly just had to try every time he nursed until he got the hang of it. Try nursing without the shield at every feeding, and try to start before your baby is starving. A screaming baby is going to have a harder time latching on, so if you are both getting too frustrated, put the shield on and just try again the next time. Some people also have success letting the baby start with the shield, then removing it part way through the feeding. Just remember, this season of life is long while you are in it, but way too short looking back on it – you will make it through! It’s like one day it just clicked and we never looked back.
We still don’t sleep through the night without waking up to nurse, but Jake goes right back to sleep so it isn’t too bad. Lots of people told us cereal would help, but that actually made it worse, because it gave him such bad gas pains. At this point, I’m fine with how things are going. I do miss getting more sleep, but I also feel like I’m adjusted to functioning on less sleep, and waking up to feed 2-4 times at night has gotten easier since he nurses faster and we don’t need the nipple shield.
My goal was to be able to breastfeed until his birthday, and unless he self-weans before then, I’m very optimistic that we will make it that far. It has been a roller coaster ride, with latching problems and supply issues, but I just stayed dedicated to doing it for Jake, and with a lot of support from Brian, we have achieved a lot! I will say this – it is a lot of hard work. When I was pregnant, I thought breastfeeding would be easy – I mean, it’s what we were made to do, right? But it didn’t come naturally to us, and we have really had to work hard to keep it going. I feel like it has only been in the past month or so that we have finally hit our stride and been able to relax a little.
If you have any questions or need breastfeeding resources, please reach out to me and I would be happy to help in any way I can.