When Audrey turned six months old, so did my breastfeeding journey. A friend of mine said it more eloquently a few months ago, but I totally agree — before I had my own baby and actually did some research about feeding her, I really thought that getting to six months meant more than it does. Don’t get me wrong — it’s HUGE. Every day of breastfeeding is important.
But while so many organizations recommend a six-month minimum, I don’t think they make it clear enough that if you stop there, you still have to supplement with formula. (Cow’s milk and other alternative milks aren’t recommended until after a baby is 12 months old.)
So I did have a mini-celebration on April 13th, taking an extra few moments during that morning’s nursing session to smile at my girl and thank her for being such a good partner. But then I geared up for the next six months of breastfeeding.
My goal now is to get to 12 months. After that, who knows? Ideally, I’d like to let Audrey lead the weaning process. If 12 months is her time, that’s OK. If she and I can go a few months after that? Even better. She still wants to nurse until two years old? I’m open to it.
I will be the first to admit, while I’ve had a few minor bumps, breastfeeding has been very successful for me, and I know that’s not the case for everyone. My daughter latched on immediately (something that I was very worried about as we were apart for a few minutes after her birth) and really seemed to get the process from the start.
A few notes:
- One of the biggest challenges has been supply dips and surges. I was blessed with a good supply from the beginning, and I had a freezer overflowing with bags of milk (so many that I was able to donate some of the milk that was set to expire). However, some days are good and some are really, really bad. I got my period back very early after birth, and during my cycle, I barely eek out half of what she needs, so I’ve had to dip into my stash. When I have a cold or am stressed or work out too hard, I have the same supply issues.
- I send 12 ounces of milk to school with Audrey, and it’s a constant point of discussion with her teachers. I’m now sending two snacks as well as the bottles, and that seems to have appeased their concerns that she’s acting hungry (for a million reasons, I don’t agree with this assessment, but I give them credit for continuing the conversation respectfully).
- I pump three times a day at work. I have tried cutting back to two, and will try again in a month or two, but I have found that I just don’t pump enough if I drop a session, and end up pumping at home, which I hate.
- Audrey eats about every four hours at this point. She does comfort nurse from time to time, but she’s pretty good about her routine.
- Audrey sleeps from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. or so. She does not nurse during the night. That may be partly responsible for my supply dips, since I am going a long time without expressing any milk. I have thought about pumping before bed, and will if I have to, but I really don’t want to.
- I don’t pump on weekends unless I’m desperate. I need the break from that blasted machine, and I prefer the physical contact we have with breastfeeding anyway.
- I am an enthusiastic nurser in public. We have nursed at the mall, in a Starbucks, at the park (several times), in the car, in bathrooms (yuck) and the list goes on.
I’m very proud of what the two of us have done. It’s been a challenge to balance breastfeeding and a full-time job, and I feel blessed to have had support around me to make it possible.