Saturday, September 22, 2012

Breastfeeding: the bumps in the road

Normally when I see a headline involving a celebrity, I don't expect a decent article. I'll still read it sometimes (guilty celebrity watcher here) & that was the case with this article about Kelly Preston & 'extended breastfeeding'. The article is actually full of well-researched facts on why it's valuable to breastfeed past a year, with a reminder at the end not to judge women no matter what age they wean at.

Still a bit  jaundiced at 2 weeks--not getting quite enough milk
As you may or may not know, depending on how long you've been reading The Sprog, we had a rather bumpy start to breastfeeding. Before I had Sprout, I assumed I'd be breastfeeding him until he was two or three, like my sister did with her son. Once he was born & I struggled with the usual latch & positioning issues, then low milk supply, injured nipples, thrush infections & the complications of having to pump & supplement along with all the breastfeeding, I started making much more short-term goals. I think my first one was to make it to three months.

Papa administering the top-up
Then three months came & went. We were still trying to up my supply with medication, natural galactagogues (tea & food), pumping about five times a day. So I shifted my goal to six months. In that three month period, I gave up on all the pumping & weaned myself off domperidone, accepting that the best I could produce was about 80% of Sprout's needs. Our routine got easier, with just a couple of small supplemental bottles of formula after 'dinner' & at bedtime.

At six months, Sprout started solids & took to eating fairly large quantities of food right away. We did Baby Led Weaning & because that involves the child self-feeding, they eat according to their appetite & not what their parents think they should consume. It also means that some kids take a while to just play with food at first & don't actually swallow much of it. Sprout's appetite & ability to get the food down was pretty good, apparently, so he put away quite a lot of food early on. I started to realize that he didn't really need the extra bottles of formula on top of the regular breastfeeding & solids, as he jumped from the 20th percentile to the 80th for weight.

Milk coma
Once Sprout was about nine or ten months, we'd stopped the formula supplements & he was eating three good meals a day with four or five breastfeeding sessions in there too. Now we were past the hassle of bottle feeding, I realized that we could go on for a long time this way. I stopped making goals & started wondering how long Sprout would want to breastfeed. Not that I was eager to stop--I just wondered.

'Breastfeeding' at Whole Foods play area
We hit another bump in the road when I started getting very sore nipples regularly. I felt much like the early stages of a thrush infection, so I would treat myself with the all-purpose nipple cream I had from a previous infection. Then I started to realize that the infections were happening every month, about mid-cycle. Could it be that I wasn't drying off my nipples enough after feedings? Maybe my synthetic nursing bra was contributing to it? I figured the hormones were causing it & started to wonder how long I could keep breastfeeding Sprout with thrush infections on a monthly basis. Then this past month, when the soreness showed up again, I decided not to treat it & just wait. Nothing happened. It didn't get worse the way thrush would have & eventually, my nipples felt fine again. So all this time, it was just soreness & not thrush at all. That explains why Sprout didn't get it.

I still debate whether or not I'll wean Sprout or if I'll let him decide. I think when & if I get pregnant again will be a factor. I know my supply may drop or I may have a lot more soreness that makes breastfeeding uncomfortable. But, then again, I may not--no way to know. Now just over two years old, he breastfeeds about two or three times a day, unless he's sick, then he 'returns to the mother ship' more often.

Did you have specific goals around breastfeeding? What difficulties did you face along the way? Please leave a comment below--I'd love to hear your story!

While I'm at it: if you've read this far, could you possibly head over to Circle of Moms & vote for The Sprog in the Top 25 Canadian Blogs? Just click on the badge over there → 

You can vote daily, by the way. ;) 


  1. I never had a timeline in which to wean J, I was just hoping he would self-wean. He kind of did, I kind of pushed it. I'm not sure my supply dropped when I was pregnant, as he was only nursing in the morning at this point. But the pain was unbearable. :( We lasted until I was 16 weeks pregnant. I think my body was trying to tell me that I couldn't provide nutrition for 4 of us at once, because once J weaned (and I threw out my prenatal vitamins), my morning sickness abruptly stopped, and I actually started to gain back the 20lbs I had lost during my first trimester.

    I know I've told you this before-I had hoped to get the girls to breastfeed to 2 years, but they both weaned earlier at their own times. I cried when all of my children stopped breastfeeding-it seemed so final for some reason. They weren't babies anymore.

  2. Basically I had an identical start to breastfeeding with my first - jaundice/formula top up/supply issues etc etc. She weaned at 17 months - I went away for 3 nights, came back, and she never asked again. Easy! My second had zero issues from day one and is still into it several times daily if I'm around, and she'll be two on Tuesday. I've been away overnight on three trips, one for 5 nights, still didn't stop her, it was the first thing she asked for when she saw me again:)

    1. Oh, wow. No issues the second time? That really gives me hope... I'm expecting supply issues again if & when I have another baby, but I'd love to be proved wrong. :)


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