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I wasn’t so successful breastfeeding my eldest. We had a lot of complications from the beginning which led me to stop after only a few months. I took it really hard when I stopped breastfeeding and knew when I got pregnant again I would give it my all.
Four amazing years later, I found out I was pregnant. There was no question in my mind that I was going to exclusively breastfeed (EBF) this baby. I felt so much more relaxed and confident in my abilities to properly breastfeed successfully. Luckily for us, he came out ready to nurse. I swear, nothing would get in the way of him and his milk—not even the fact that he was severely tongue tied. (Side note: We got his tongue clipped at a year old and managed to breastfeed with no issues, so it can be done!)
I stayed home with my son for eight short weeks before heading back to work. By that time we had a great routine established and my supply was stable. I started pumping three times a day at work, nursing right after work, through the night, and once again in the morning before heading back to work. We had a solid routine down and I was really happy with our results. It never occurred to me to do some extra pumping to keep in the freezer for emergencies, which I ended up regretting. By the time my son was eight months old I started to lose the quantity of milk I was pumping and I started to dread pumping. But everywhere I turned for advice I kept reading the same thing: If I quit pumping I would lose my supply. I wasn’t ready to quit breastfeeding, so I employed these little tricks to help boost my supply while pumping:
- Looking at my son’s picture
- Getting into a calm state, closing my eyes and imagining it was my son who was nursing
- Drinking a ton of water throughout the day
This boosted my supply some, but it still wasn’t enough. I was getting less than half from both breasts than what he drank at one sitting. Sometimes I would pump less than one ounce on one side. It wasn’t my pump either—I had an amazing Medela pump. The suction was still strong and all parts had been thoroughly checked. I even replaced the membranes and tubes just in case. I was at a loss and didn’t know what to do. It was a horrible feeling, which I assume made the situation worse.
After reaching a low point, emotionally and quantity wise, I reached out to my husband’s aunt. When my husband was young she ran our local La Leche League, so she has always been my go-to for breastfeeding advice. I expressed my concerns about not having enough milk when I pumped and told her all the tricks I’d tried. I didn’t have a supply issue, just a pumping issue. I explained I was terrified I would lose my supply if I stopped pumping. And you know what? I was worried about nothing! She assured me that as long as I continued to breastfeed when I was with my son, my supply would not dwindle. It would all adjust itself. Best. Advice. EVER!
I was so nervous the first couple weeks. Even though she assured me I would be fine, there was still a little part of me questioning if I was doing the right thing and if my supply would still be there for my son.
My new routine was nursing in the mornings and right after work. Then, on the weekends, I would nurse on demand throughout the day. My husband’s aunt was right. Your body does amazing things and it completely adjusted to my new schedule. We would supplement with formula while I was at work and go back to breastfeeding when he was with me.
I am proud to say that he is now 20 months and we are still breastfeeding strong. If you feel pumping isn’t for you and you need to supplement with some formula while you aren’t around, take a deep breath because it will be okay.
Disclaimer: This advice is based on my own personal experience and should never substitute one of a medical professional.
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