Since my son will be turning one on the 22nd of November, I am going to reminisce about the past year, and the many things I have learned about breastfeeding. I can now say I am a “pro”, but I didn’t start off that way. These are just random thoughts, musings, tips, advice, and anecdotes about the last year.

Lactation Consultants are your best friend. If it weren’t for Michelle, my LC, who manually expressed colostrum for my baby when he wouldn’t latch, and who called every few days when we were home to offer words of encouragement and advice, I don’t know that we would have made it past the first 2 days. She was able to get my son to latch when I couldn’t, and assured me through my tears and silent screams that I could and would get past this. She let me know that babies need to learn to breastfeed and so do moms. That I was giving my son the best gift I could, and if I worked at it, it would become so. We visited her 2 times after being released in order to wean my son from the nipple shield, and because of her I have made it to one year! I am so grateful to have had what others have called a “breastfeeding nazi” because that is what I needed.

What I didn’t need was a pediatrician who came into my room and explained that not everyone can breastfeed. He told me his wife couldn’t, and pumped for 6 months instead. I almost had my out, and a way to escape the pain, but I still wanted to try.

Nipple shields are the best and worst inventions on the planet. When used correctly, they can save your breastfeeding relationship. I was given one my very last day in the hospital. We used it twice before I was discharged, and he was able to latch successfully and with minimal pain. I was still having pain from the blisters underneath, which were rubbed by his very tight and hard latch. It took 5 weeks to lose the shield completely. This battle was almost as hard as the first 3 days in the hospital. I had to commit to losing it, even though he latched perfectly with it. Essentially, he had to learn how to breastfeed twice. My supply never dropped, like some other moms experienced. I had an abundance of milk. Using a shield is the messiest thing. I remember sitting on my couch at 1 am, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and so on, and unlatching my sleeping baby from the breast, and having to slowly pull the shield off. Milk would leak all over!

The first time Fletcher nursed without a shield successfully was on the way home from my last session with Michelle. She was so encouraging, she made me believe in myself. We did it in the office, with her help. I stopped at Babies ‘R Us and shopped, then used the Mother’s Room. I denied myself the shield, which was tucked into a napkin and in a pocket. I put him on and it clicked. He got on, I was in no pain, and he ate for 15-20 minutes. After that we used the shield 2 times in the next couple of days, and then it was gone. Many times in the middle of the night I wanted it, badly, but I held strong. You have to pull the plug on it.

The revelation: Because our nursing relationship was extremely rocky, I used the ol’ cradle position. I used a Boppy, then bought a My Brest Friend. What a savior that was! It helped my back immensely, and got used a lot for a few more weeks until I decided to just go with a pillow for convenience sake. One day, I was extremely tired. I wanted a nap so badly, but the baby always slept in my arms. I was very anti co-sleeping at that point. I believed the hype that I would kill my baby, and since he only napped on me, the whole “sleep when baby sleeps” thing was out. I decided to try side lying nursing again. I had tried a few times, and failed. Our latch just wasn’t good enough yet. I put his neck on my arm and cuddle him close, then got him securely latched. It worked! I was so proud of myself, and then I fell asleep. It was amazing. I didn’t nap during the day for the first few months of my son’s life, and of course I was up all night breastfeeding him and slowly easing him into his cradle. It was an hour long process at least. Every 3-4 hours. I started using this method in secret during the day; I was afraid my husband would kill me if he knew I was co-sleeping. Eventually, I brought him to bed with me at night. Hubby was wary and insisted I put him back, but I said no. Soon, we were a part time co-sleeping family. In fact, we still are.

Trial by fire: Nursing in public was not something I started out doing. I hid in the nursery when guests were over, and went to a private room when possible when we were on the go. If there was no room, I used a cover. This continued until we took a road trip to NC, a 12 hour turned 15 hour drive. I had to nurse at McDonalds, in a rest stop, in the car, anywhere and everywhere. I stopped using my cover after it became a pain, and never looked back. By the time that trip was over I had learned a few tricks on how to be discreet. Covers are a pain!

At 5 months I decided that I finally had breastfeeding down. Yes, it took 5 months for me to decide this. I could do it anywhere, anytime, anyhow. My son was also great at it, and could find my boob in the dark. He could latch himself if it was available. Unfortunately, this meant I never pumped anymore. I used to occasionally pump milk and have my husband take a feeding so I could sleep. The usual reason was actually to let my breasts get a break since we had soreness in the beginning also. I needed a breather. Once things were 100% pain free, and I no longer resented nursing, it was easier to nurse than pump. This also ruined any chance of me getting out of the home. He forgot how to use a bottle, and if given one, would chew it. I only recently discovered that at 11 months, he will take a bottle of whole milk. I like to stick with sippy cups, but he is not a pro at those. We gave him one bottle recently and he drank a few ounces.

Teeth: Before I was pregnant, I never thought I would breastfeed. The idea seemed kinda gross to me! While pregnant, I figured I would do it. The further along I got the more I wanted to. I dreamed about rocking my baby and nursing him. I also loved that I would be saving lots of money on formula and bottles, and that it was the food he was meant to have. When he was born, I knew I would nurse him until he got teeth. My LC assured me teeth could be overcome, but I was doubtful. However, after realizing how hard we worked to be successful, I decided we would overcome teeth. I set my goal to 1 year, and anything after was icing on the cake. I also have a secret limit of 2, but we shall see. He got 2 bottom teeth first, so his tongue covered them. Soon after came 2 top teeth. He was very good at not biting on purpose, but it happened. I would quickly unlatch him and say a firm “no.” I wouldn’t put him back on for a time. He got two more teeth, and then started forcefully latching. I got small bruises on my right areola from the middle two teeth rubbing, and the force at which he latched. This lasted a few days. Currently, he is still latching on hard but the pain is minimal and short lived. It is definitely better than full on biting!

Time: In the beginning, nursing sessions would last over an hour, and they came what seemed like every half hour to hour. I was a 24/7 milk machine. I can now proudly (and somewhat sadly) say that we are down to 5-10 minute sessions, and only 3-4 times a day. At night he sleeps with me and nurses 2-6 times, but only for comfort. It lasts 2 minutes and he is asleep. Who knows if he is even getting much milk. While I am a little sad that I am not his only source of food, I see light at the end of the tunnel. I love nursing my son. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gone through the blood, sweat, and tears I did. But, I am secretly excited about being able to leave him at home with his dad for a few hours. It has happened once. The longest my son has gone without nursing is 10.5 hours! This was an unusual day, but it is good to know he can do it. I have been lucky not to get my period yet, but I know as he eats less and less, it will happen. But it is welcome. Soon, my son will need a little brother or sister, and I will get to start off as an experienced breastfeeding mother!

I am extremely proud of making it to one year. Only 14% of mothers in America do. A sad fact, but I made it. It was easier than I ever thought it would be. The hardest part of breastfeeding only lasts a few weeks. The benefits of making it to one year and beyond last a lifetime. And they benefit you as well. Breastfeeding past one year, and nursing multiple children decreases my own risk of breast cancer. Indeed.

Fun Facts:
I have nursed my son in 10 States. (this includes layovers and driving through)
I have nursed my son in a plane across the United States, and next to complete strangers.
I have nursed my son in a duck boat (a car that can be driven into water)
I have nursed my son in the USS Constitution, the oldest floating naval craft in the US.
I have nursed my son on a paddle boat.
I have nursed my son in a boat on a lake between US and Canada.
I have nursed my son in a cave.
I have nursed my son in a moving vehicle by putting my boob over the carseat, and was seen by a man next to us at a stoplight.
I have nursed my son at the base of a waterfall with my feet in the water.
I have nursed my son next to the ocean in Florida.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a slideshow with my breastfeeding photos from the past (almost) year.

30 Responses

  1. What an awesome post! I can’t believe I haven’t visited your blog sooner. I found it thanks to the post on The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, but I quickly recognized you from JM too. Anyway, I could relate to so much of what you experienced in the past year. My oldest son was tongue tied at birth which made breastfeeding a real battle. Even after having the problem fixed we still had to use a shield for many weeks. Thank goodness my youngest son latched on right after birth and never looked back. But then again, I knew what I was doing the second time around. He’s 20 months old now and we’re still breastfeeding everyday. I never imagined I’d still be breastfeeding at this age, but he’s just not ready to give it up. He lost interest in all breastfeeding sessions except the one first thing in the morning, so I know when he’s ready he will self wean. Congrats to you on making it to 12 months and best of luck as you continue.

  2. I loved this post. It shows that breastfeeding is hard, but worth it! I love the pics at Boldt Castle, its such a pretty place!

  3. Congratulations! I think every bfing mom has done the boob flip in the car haven’t they? Or maybe it’s just a small club…either way- welcome to it! 🙂

    Good luck on continuing the relationship!

  4. Thank you for this post. My baby is 1 month old & we’re still trucking through. (even though almost all of my support people have said at one time or another “why don’t you just pump & quit fighting w/ him to the breast”–EVEN MY DH-my strongest supporter! We’re slowly getting to where he’ll take an entire feeding at the boob& even nurse when I’m “full”. Anyway, thanks for the encouraging post! I can’t wait to write mine in 11 months!!

  5. You ROCK mama!!!!! I nursed my 1st baby for 9 months, but going back to work effectively ended our BFing relationship. This time I’m staying home so we can be even more successful. DD and I are up to almost 8 months without a drop of formula (although she’s started solids) and still going strong. Tooth #2 (on top) just came in… wish us luck!!!! I’m hoping that we can continue until she weans herself, at whatever age that might be.

    p.s. I too made the mistake of not pumping enough and now she won’t take a bottle either. Should’ve learned from the same problem with my son, but it’s just too hard to pump when you can easily nurse!
    .-= Jennifer B´s last blog ..Be-Frazzled =-.

  6. Our stories sound very similar, difficult time getting a wide enough latch, trips to the LC, breastfeeding support groups. Once she could latch and we could nurse in bed, things got 100% better. We didn’t co-sleep, not because I didn’t want to, but our little girl didn’t sleep well in bed with us. Since I went back to work and she’s in day care part time, pumping and bottles were a huge part of our bf success. In the last month though, my little one, despite my constantly trying to get her to nurse, has decided she doesn’t really want to. I can only get her to nurse in the mornings, the rest of the time she will just bite me, no matter how hungry, tired, quiet, etc. I’ll keep up the once daily nursing as long as she will, though a complete weaning appeals to me at time.
    I am super-supportive of bf, I think everyone should do it, but I also think that some women get so brow-beat when they just can’t do it that it’s like a whole different injury. Not only are they sad, in pain, disappointed that breast-feeding isn’t easy for them, there are a bunch of people making them feel bad about. I would have liked to never have given my little girl formula, but it wasn’t in the cards for us. That pediatrician who you didn’t need giving you an out, a lot of women do need to help them know that it’s not that they’re doing something wrong. I saw this woman at my bf support group who had lost a breast to a mastectomy, who was working so so hard at it, and it was causing her so much pain my heart just broke for her. I wish all women could do it, it’s such an amazing experience, but motherhood is great no matter what, and for the most-part, we all do the best we can.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Some stuff about stuff =-.

  7. Congratulations on making it a year. I could never get my 1st son to latch on. Then when I had my 2ND son he was born 4 weeks early and was introduced a bottle of expressed milk 1st because I had to leave him at the hospital. My 2ND son is also tongue tied. The little piece of skin under the tongue is attached to the tip of the tongue so they cannot fully extend the tounge out ward. All of this did not stop my desire to nurse. When he finally came home from the hospital I could get him to latch on sometimes,but being a preemie I was nervous about his weight. I would “try ” to nurse and then pump afterward. I also had to go back to work part-time 6 weeks after he was born, lets just say he got use to the bottle. We continued to do this for the 1st 5 months of his life. At 6 mo I introduced formula. I am very happy that I made it longer with my 2ND son. Maybe the 3rd (if We have one) will last longer I hope. What A great post. I often think women who breastfeed Never have a difficult time at it,and always wondered what I was doing wrong.
    .-= Carly´s last blog ..In 5 days =-.

  8. AWESOME JOB MOMMA!!

    You are doing amazing, natural, forever-life-changing things for your son by nursing him as he leads.

    If you ever need a little encouragement, this article on Breastfeeding in The Land of Gengis Kahn is empowering and fun to read (I think I have read it about 20 times now): http://drmomma.blogspot.com/2009/07/breastfeeding-in-land-of-genghis-khan.html

    Best wishes for your “secret” goal of 2 years (we have the same around our house…my ‘secret’ goal/wish/hope is 2 1/2 years – anything beyond that is up to him).

    *hugs*
    .-= DrMomma´s last blog ..Co-Sleeping: A Review of Research =-.

  9. Thanks for sharing! I nursed my first for 13 months and my second is on his way to 12 months. I have never got down pumping, nursing while lying down, hands-free nursing, or nursing in a sling. I want to do all of these things with my next baby, though. Nursing is so incredible and I am so grateful I had support, like you did, the first time around. I am vary wary of nurses and their conflicting breastfeeding advice in the hospital. I am also incredibly grateful for a husband who 100% supports breastfeeding!
    .-= Mindy´s last blog ..Post-It Note Tuesday: Hollywood Edition =-.

  10. What a beautiful post- you brought tears to my eyes. My baby is almost 4 months old and I am just now feeling like I am getting the hang of breastfeeding. It has been a journey! I thought that your pictures are beautiful, one of my all time favorite newborn pictures of my daughter is her nursing while we were still in the hospital. There is something so peaceful about her when she nurses. Thank you for sharing this post with us.
    .-= Pumpkin´s last blog .. =-.

  11. Good post! We have been going strong for almost 6 months and plan on going to a year. The Nursing Mothers Companion book I bought while pregnant is what kept me breastfeeding. The hospital made me give my son formula (as in they watched my husband force him the bottle, and then left and said he needed to finish another one in an hour, we threw the bottle in the garbage when they left the room so they thought he drank it and we could go home) in order for him to be discharged becuase they said he had Jaundice. Which meant he didnt nurse and I missed vital sessions. I sent my husband out to buy me a pump and was able to pump and fed my baby the milk with a plastic teaspoon becuase it wasnt enough to even put in a bottle! No thanks to any lactation consulant or Dr (sucky hospital), just that book I was able to have my son ebf by 1 week old and off pumping the bottle by 3 weeks I also have a baby who will no longer take a bottle and will drink some from a sippy! And the nursing the baby while in the car seat, yah not fun haha. We also part time co-sleep, I said I would never do it. Next baby I will do it from day 1 and actually get some sleep!

  12. This is a beautiful post. It makes me want to recount my experiences in writing. And like the last commenter said, it brought tears to my eyes. It really is hard in the beginning, isn’t it? And when someone says no worries (when nipples are rubbed raw and milk is squirting everywhere and baby is screaming because she can’t latch properly) because you’ll have it down in a few weeks, you don’t believe them. And how can you possibly last a few more weeks, let alone the next nursing session? I remember that. My daughter is almost 13 months and we still nurse in the mornings, but man…the beginning can be difficult.

  13. I enjoyed reading all of your comments today from my iPhone while I visited my family here in NC. I couldn’t wait to get home to say how much everyone made my day! I really am proud of myself. I almost feel like I am in a secret club of moms who make it to one year. Now I am just letting my son decide when he is ready, though since we still nurse frequently it will be a while! He got sick a few days ago, and then I got it last night. Today he is miraculously better. I chalk this up to breastfeeding. My milk just turned into cold medicine!

    Good luck to all of the other mommies out there. It can be so hard but it is one of the most rewarding things in the world! I just love his milk drunk face.

  14. Ha!
    I have asked my husband…do you think I’m the only one who has BF in the car (with baby in car seat)….I guess not!!

    Unfortunately I’ve done it so much I think my son is now conditioned to nurse while in the car seat 🙁 My Aching Back!

    I had a fantastic lactation consultant….however we moved states away when my son was not even one month old. This caused some difficulty and my supply went way down. I had to BF, pump, feed what I had pumped at least every three hrs…did this for 5 WEEKS!!!!!! But now I have a happy,healthy 8 month old who is learning solids but predominately nurses!

    YAY!! 🙂

  15. Breastfeeding came super easy to us – I can’t imagine what you went through in the beginning – huge, huge congratulations to you for making it a year. It is a big accomplishment. It was strange how easy it was to continue going. We stopped at 20 months when my husband and I went out of town without our daughter for the first time for our 5 year anniversary. It was the right time for us, but I was very sad to close that chapter with her. At 25 months, she will try to sneak a little snack occasionally, but there is nothing left. 🙁 It is actually pretty funny. Reading your post got my super excited about our new baby that is coming in 3 months. I miss co-sleeping and nursing in the middle of the night and all the special cuddle time that comes with it. Because of nursing and co-sleeping, I was the best rested new mom I knew! It is amazing how natural the two things are once you accept them as natural. 🙂 Congrats again!

  16. I just wanted to say I’m proud of you !!! I think you are the only one other then me to breastfeed in the family. I did with all my children. Keith who is now 14 and very healthy I feed til he was almost 3months but had to go to pumping cause of me returning to school.Samantha who is 8 also very healthy I feed til she was 6months because I was afraid of biting so as soon as teeth came I went to pumping. Olivia who is going to be 6 Dec.4th I didnt get to feed but 6weeks due to going back to work and I was unable to pump which I greatly regret.She is heathy as well but has acid reflex not sure if due to formula or not. and my youngest is Kendall she was feed til she was 9months she did bite me a few times but it was nothing as I thought it would be. I stopped due to drying up was afraid she wasn’t getting enough so as with all my children she went to goats milk til her 1st brithday. I’m so glad you got to enjoy your time and it will be even great with the next little one.

  17. BF wasn’t easy for me at the beginning. I also had help from the lactations consultants. Withouth them I probably would have given up. Every new mom that has worries about BF, I always encourage them and tell them to get help from the LC. Thanks for posting this! Its very honest and encouraging. And I love the pictures! I dont think I have any. I need to take some. I’m on baby #2. And the first one I BF for a year and its been nine months so far with baby #2.
    .-= Gini´s last blog ..Christmas tree ribbon and fabric onesie =-.

  18. Like a couple of the other readers I also was almost brought to tears. You are Amazing! I know this because you are my sister and to watch you with your son, my nephew it makes me joyful to see you so happy. You definitely have to be one of the greatest mothers that I have ever met. I remember flying to NY to see you and my newborn nephew. I would hear you from the next room and I could tell you were having a hard time feeding him, because every time Fletcher ate you would have to call Steven into the nursery at least a couple times for each time you fed him. Now you are a pro! Although I did breast feed my daughter for a couple months, I believe it is a huge accomplishment to have breast fed for a whole year. Congratulations. I couldn’t be more proud to have such a wonderful sister and nephew.

  19. Kim, congratulations on making it to the one year mark!! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s hard to imagine that something so natural can be so difficult to master.

    My first was hospitalized with jaundice and I was told I had to give him formula to clear it up. Every two hours I would feed him a bottle of formula and pump so I would not lose my supply. Breastfeeding never got any easier and sadly, he only had pumped breastmilk for about two months.

    I was determined to nurse my second. We had a really hard time in the beginning (I almost quit at three weeks), but thanks to the help of a wonderful lactation consultant, we are still going strong at six months. My goal is one year! I am going back to work soon, so that’s my next hurdle. Oh, and teeth 🙂

    I am going to start my own “I have nursed in” list!!

    Congratulations, again. It’s a huge accomplishment.

  20. Thank you so much for this post! I have an 8-week old and breastfeeding has been a constant battle for me. I gave up after a week and started pumping exclusively and supplementing with formula. I didn’t want to, but her latch was awful and so painful every time and I needed a break. We were both sobbing at each feeding. A few weeks ago I decided to try latching her again, and to my surprise, she latched right away, with no pain! I’ve been slowly working my way back to exclusively breastfeeding since and so far it’s been a success. My supply isn’t the best, since I went to pumping in those crucial first weeks, but I’m working to get it back up. Anyway, thanks so much for posting. It’s so nice to see that others had trouble, but made it through!! It gives me a lot of hope for myself!

  21. I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing! I too, had a VERY difficult time, but I was up against some big barriers. I had a breast reduction and have inverted nipples, so I was wishful but doubtful at the same time. We were never able to get my daughter latched on, but I pumped what I could (about 4 oz. a day) for 5 months until I totally dried up. And, yes, I tried fenugreek, changing my diet, drinking more water, I even went on Reglan, which was the only thing that seemed to boost my production, but it’s not safe to stay on it for long periods of time. If I have another baby, though, I’m going to try just as hard to make the whole breastfeeding thing work!

  22. I read all of your posts and it made me get all teary eyed!!! I wanted so bad to b/f and was going to ask my doctor if I could try again. My son is wks old. I had my son via c-section and contacted MRSA in my incision and was hospitalized for 14 days. I was DEATHLY sick and on high, high powered antibiotics. We only b/f for one week. I was devastated. My oldest I had to supplement, bcz unlike you I had tiny amounts of milk no matter what I did. I took fenugreek, prescription meds, rented a hospital pump,but I was able to get in some b/f He has severe food allergies to eggs and peanuts. I just wanted the bonding and not to mention the health benefits of b/f. I so wish I could start again, but don’t know if it’s a lost cause. I enjoyed all your posts very much!!!!!!!!!!

  23. What an AWESOME post great show and I love how it is so discreet!!! Great job! I wish I had the courage to do it in public… alas, I would give the world a show as these puppies are HUGE!!! It would be nearly impossible to BF in public let alone in a carrier (well unless I let her ride down near my knees) LOL… thanks for the post… makes me wish for another just to BF again!!!

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