Breastfeeding a Crazy Rollercoaster of Emotions
Sometimes a mom is unable to breastfeed, especially a first time mom with little experience with breastfeeding, or a first time mom stressing over every aspect of their breastfeeding relationship. The stress of it all can sometimes be too much on mom, and therefore the breastfeeding relationship she yearned to have is over, sooner than planned.
This doesn’t mean that the second time around mama won’t be able to breastfeed, each situation is unique to that baby. A lot of the times a mother can actually be more optimistic the second time around. She also has more experience. The most important thing is to not be too hard on yourself and with the right support, you will be able to handle the outcome, whatever it may be..
Katie’s story is the perfect example of this. Although her first baby wasn’t able to breastfeed, her 2nd baby was completely different and took right to nursing. Although with the 2nd time around, it brought a whole array of problems not expected and unlike the first. This is story of a mom’s fierce determination and finding a whole community of support to help her through the tough situations that sometimes come along with breastfeeding. This is also a story of how one mom was willing to make sacrifices, just to make sure that her 2nd time breastfeeding was a success, and not only give her breastmilk to her daughter, but also help other moms, sometimes complete strangers by donating her breastmilk to help their babies.
All the reading in the world about everything breastfeeding, with my first baby, could not prepare me for my stubborn nursling and I gave up, before I could really get started with him.
Not being able to nurse Cole was rough on me, it was something I really wanted to do. We tried for about a month and a half with a nipple shield, but he fought every feeding. He would cry and scream.
I decided making him that upset was not worth it for us. We made the effort, but I wasn't able to stomach him screaming, when he was supposed to be eating.
Cole excreted before he came out, and was in the NICU for about 40 minutes, before I got to hold him and try and nurse. Breastfeeding is an extremely exhausting and taxing endeavor. I feel as though I was afraid to ask for help with Cole, but I joined a facebook support group for breastfeeding moms, called Badass Breastfeeders of Western PA. I have an amazing friend, who has been nursing for the past 5 years (between her 2 youngest), she has been my support system!
Fast forward 17 months and our 2nd baby, our little miss Emma was born. A boob monster as soon as she came out!
With Emma the birthing experience was completely different, and as soon as she came out, she started nursing right away!
I had feared for 9 months that we would have issues, but it ended up coming so easily with her this time around.
She took right to nursing and never looked back. My milk came in full force and at times the letdown was too much.
I manually pumped multiple times a day, and sometimes just so my milk stream wouldn’t gag her while she nursed, because I was pumping in between, I was able to start building a fairly decent sized milk stash in my freezer!
About 2 months in, my baby girl was having digestive issues, every single diaper.
When Emma started having tummy issues, I asked a friend of mine that had went through similar issues with his daughter, and I also read a few posts in the support group Badass Breastfeeders, about what could be contributing to her tummy issues.
I wanted to do as much research as possible to find out what could be causing this or if it was just normal fussiness.
After asking my moms in the groups.
I soon realized that it could very well be related to my breastmilk, and what I was eating! That was my cue to start eliminating foods from my diet.
Dairy the largest, yummiest food group was the first to go. Just 2 days later my princess was 1,000 times better.
I had so much milk stashed in the freezer and she was still not taking a bottle, so I decided to de-stash.
My close friend took about 100 or so ounces of milk, from before I went dairy free.
I made another connection with a mama in need and she took about another 200 ounces On Human milk 4 human babies, I met with another lady, who I gave about another 150 oz.
I felt so blessed to share with these precious little ones.
During that time our Pediatricians were very supportive of our breastfeeding journey.
They always offered to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant, if I felt I needed one.
We were doing so good, I didn’t take them up on it. It made me happy to know they were there.
January 2018 came around and my little girl, now at 6 months still wouldn’t take a bottle for me.
So when one of the mamas I had connected with previously, asked if I could spare more milk, I gladly shared about another 150 ounces of my breastmilk with her.
Donating kind of just fell into my lap. I had a few hundred ounces before I cut out dairy, and my good friend had low production and had to supplement, Offering was really the toughest part of it. Getting into my head how to offer and be sincere, that if she wanted it, it was all hers to help if she needed it. So she didn’t have to stress over having to supplement. The other 2 mama's both worked and were in need of milk to keep up with what their babies needed, when they weren't there. I would like to say to the mamas looking for donor milk, don't be afraid to ask on the breastfeeding mama sites or Human Milk for Human Babies! The mamas on the other side who have thought about donating their milk. Go for it, by donating you will be a lifeline, of calmness and relieve a lot of stress to a mama.
Here I sit July 2018 with my 1 year old who still nurses and still doesn't like to take a bottle and I am realizing my body supplied her with everything she needed for so long. And I am blessed. I have an amazing friend who has helped me on this journey and been there for me for each question and crazy day. I really haven’t thought about weaning, it’s my hope to let her self wean when she is ready..
Breastfeeding is the most amazing, exhausting, toughest thing I have done in my life, but I’m definitely not ready for her to stop. When that time comes I know I will be an emotional wreck. It has truly been such a rewarding experience!
There will be people that give you nasty looks, that don't understand, there are kids that stare. SMILE! You made the decision to breastfeed , no one can take that joy from you. Be strong and encourage other moms you see in public.
As with Katie’s journey’s, her first breastfeeding experience did not mirror her second.
She had the confidence and a support system in place that when a problem did present itself, she was able to seek help.
It is so important to have a strong support system in place before baby arrives,
that along with seeking some kind of counseling to address the previous issues you may have had with a breastfeeding experience.
Sometimes a failed nursing relationship can stay with you and
it’s unbelievably important to address it and look at the positives that came with that experience, just as important as it is to address the negatives,
before attempting a breastfeeding relationship with negativity and worry.
It’s also important for mom to listen and
go with her mama instinct and to seek the support needed,
when a situation like a diet, food sensitivity, or other factors can be causing an issue in the breastfeeding relationship.
Food sensitivities are not nearly as common as most would think or are told.
Most breastfeeding mothers can eat whatever they want and will notice the foods that they eat don’t bother baby.
Eating the foods you want and not following a strict diet actually introduces baby to new tastes.
When baby eats mothers milk, all the nutrients mom takes in, baby gets.
Sometimes even an allergy mom has, baby will have.
It’s all unique to baby and each baby is different.
The flavor of a mother’s milk reflects what she eats.
When a mother eats a variety of foods the baby is exposed to a multitude of different flavors,
preparing baby for when he/she starts purees or solids
Sometimes a mom can’t always tell if it’s a milk allergy or just baby being plain fussy,
it could be contributed to gas, teething, or something else other than the breastmilk.
Sometimes you have to go through a process of food elimination before you know for sure,
Until then you can keep notes of what you are eating and what you are cutting out of your diet.
Just try eliminating one food group at a time.
Contacting your pediatrician will also give you an idea if there can be something else going on and if the route you are taking is even necessary. Most importantly do your own research, if you feel something isn't right, most likely your mama instinct is correct and if not you will know that you did your best to cross all your t's and dot all your I's.
You know your baby best and more than likely you know if there is something truly wrong. Finding a local breastfeeding support group is also key, even if you feel like your nursing relationship is going well. It always helps to be around other mama's who are breastfeeding too.
By having a solid support system in place and arming yourself with enough information, you will be able to handle whatever struggles that should arise in your breastfeeding journey. Always remember you are not alone.
*Have you ever had any issues with your diet while breastfeeding?
Who was your support system during your breastfeeding journey?
Let us know in the comments below!*
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About the breastfeeding mommy-Katie
Katie here! Mom of 2 precious littles. A 2.5 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. I stay at home with them and enjoy everyday.
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Bridget or better known as Rycker's mommy. Loves being a full time mommy, but she is also a full time writer. No matter if she's writing for Rycker:the ups and Downs, Serving ALL Moms|The Breastfeeding Mommy or an article for another blog or publication, she's happiest when helping others, especially moms. She can be found taking long strolls, no wait this isn't a personal ad, she can be found with a coffee in her hand, trying to keep her eyes open while chasing after her 1 year old almost crawler!