In this breastfeeding update, I’m writing about the breastfeeding experience during the age of three to six months old. I want to go into the bad parts, and then celebrate the good parts in regards to breastfeeding a baby. How has the adjustment been to a child in our lives for over six months now? And how I feel about continue breastfeeding until my baby is two years old.
I’ll start by summarizing what I have learned so far.
Breastfeeding is hard.
&& I love breastfeeding.
That about sums it up. No joke. There’s way TOO MUCH to learn about. Here are some topics you should really get familiar with in regards to breastfeeding.
- Good latch
- How and when to express milk (too much and you deal with engorged breasts, too little and you may not see results) by pumping or hand expression
- What let down is and how to improve it
- How to hand express
- Average, over and underproduction of milk supply
In the last Breastfeeding Journey Post [0-3 months] I gave a lot of advice on EVERYTHING BREASTFEEDING that, I had learned in my first three months. And I talked about how I have a low milk supply, what seems to help. You can read about breastfeeding for six months like I have done now. And still not have it all figured out. I may not be perfect, but I want to share with you my own breastfeeding journey. I expect it has some unique twists… Here we go. Bad news, then the good news. Don’t skip ahead now! I go full circle on this one.
This is the bad news about breastfeeding, Mama Bears…
Breastfeeding is painful at times, for a number of reasons. I personally don’t have much pain anymore, except she gets heavier by the day. It’s always a struggle to find the right position. We primarily side lay, which can be difficult if your out and about without a comfy place to lay.
By the time they are 3 months old, they wiggle and move like crazy. At least mine does. She never sits still unless she’s drowsy, and on her way to dreamland. Which is when we do the most successful nursing.
Your probably the only one that can fulfill this need Mamas. If your partner hasn’t made comments like, “I’d do it if I had the boobs”, then maybe you’re dealing with some unsupporting family issues. (I have some tips for you though, keep reading.) When your the only one that can provide this, it gets really overwhelming at times. Right about now I have had 6 months with the baby and we’ve adjusted to being a parent. Finally. (I started to be comfortable around 4 months, where I feel like it’s taken him until this month to be fully adjusted to her.) IBut that doesn’t mean you aren’t craving a break, and need some freedom. Breastfeeding makes that really difficult for us Mamas.
As our baby’s development increases, their curiosity also skyrockets. It can be difficult to keep the little one focused on the tasks at hand. They also tend to get bored easily. It’s this weird balance of timing and charm to have a successful and fulfilling meal, it’s a chore. Most of our long, full nursing sessions are accomplished before falling asleep. We currently bed share with our baby, so she remains latched on when we sleep together. (Here’s the “need to know” down low on bed sharing safely.)
And finally, since we bed share she does latch on and off in the night at will. This is beneficial to me because most of the time I don’t wake up all the way anymore. But some nights I don’t get as much restful sleep. I usually have to sleep on my side to accommodate her, so that can be stressful on my body if I don’t find adequate time to nap. Stretching is a necessity as I get extremely tense from stiff sleep, especially after carrying a baby all day!
Here’s the Good News Mama’s
- You get used to a schedule of feeding times and are able to realize a routine that works with nursing.
- You can enjoy the bond with your child when you breastfeed.
- It isn’t always painful, in fact, there are times when it’s downright enjoyable.
- It is extremely empowering to provide the food for your child, from your own body.
- Your baby’s health is optimal when fed mothers milk (Recommended by doctors and scientists all over the world!)
I’ll be posting about my daily routines and schedule in detail soon, but basically, we stick with a general flow of each day, as follows:
We wake up and have a quiet time until her first nap, if hungry she has a bottle (3 Oz formula) as much of my milk supply has been drained throughout the night. When she wakes up from her nap, we begin playing and spend time in the open living room. We chat with the dogs and interact with the environment. Much of this time is spent listening to music and getting exercise. (You can read about CJs amazingly advanced 6-month-old Iles tones here!) When she’s hungry she nurses until she asks for a bottle, another 3 Oz. Most of the time she then continues with nursing. We switch gears to a more simple and focused task. Such as playing with blocks, reading books, or doing something all new such as musical instruments or playing baby games on the tablet. She goes down for a long 1.5-2 hour nap from 12-2pm. (The 4 month sleep regression lasted from about 14-22 weeks (2 months long). And it’s a total pain, more about that coming up soon). Once she’s up, we kind of has open time to do what we feel like whether that is going outside, hanging out and socializing with others, or having some silly one on one time. Maybe we try some solid single foods while I eat lunch. Up until dad gets home or she takes her last nap. She’s hungry almost as soon as she wakes up so I’ve been nursing her to sleep, and then we also have a good nursing session when she wakes up. Especially after the long nap midday, we have a cute little nursed meal. We still finish with 2 oz of formula usually. She’s good, until that last nap of the day, we nurse to sleep and then she has time with Daddy. She eats at 5 pm, 3 oz on the dot, every day. Then when she’s getting dozy we start the night time routine that starts with a bottle of 3oz (sometimes this is milk instead of formula, that I’ve got expressed throughout the day). We then nurse to sleep, and usually, it’s harder than nap times to get her into a deep sleep. But once she’s down, she sleeps from 7:30 pm until about 10:30-11 in which time we go to bed.
So she has 3-4 bottles of formula a day still. Which hasn’t really increased from the 0-3 month post! Which is good because it means I’ve maintained my production! Although still lower than the average. I’m a proud breastfeeding mama![Proud breastfeeding photo]
Anyone who tries to give me any crap for formula supplementing or tries to say I don’t breastfeed is bent. I spend hours of my day attending to my baby with my breasts. And that’s primarily TO FEED HER. This thing that I do, it’s called breastfeeding.
The really cool part though is that I get to spend hours a day feeding my favorite little cute thing ever. My beautiful daughter and I really do have a special connection. As we proceed with our parenting, my husband and I probably are closest to the Attachment Parenting style. Breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping are all very important to us. I’m really enjoying being her everything, to be honest. Now that she can reach for me, and call me “Mumummmm”, I’m lovestruck. And in absolute awe at how happy I have become within myself. There’s nothing that brings me more pleasure than being whom my daughter needs, and wants.
Not only do I enjoy the breastfeeding experience, and don’t find it painful any longer (except for the occasional crack from a bad latch or her occasional bite). I feel really good about being the one to provide substantial health benefits to my little girl. I’m so thankful for formula too, as it really does do an amazing job of mimicking breast milk. I just think it’s so amazing that us mothers are literally designed to do this!
Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most natural thing a mother can do for her child.
How am I feeling about my decision to breastfeed for two years?
If your a new first time Mama like me, then I’m stoked your here reading this post and other posts like it. Being well educated on breastfeeding is the key to success. Be ready to manage your time and create a routine. Don’t underestimate the amount of time that nursing takes. Not to mention patience, a fair dose of pain, and enviable frustration. There’s no such thing as a perfect breastfeeding journey, there will be ups and downs. Prepare yourself with resources to deal with unsupportive people in your life that may try to deter you away from breastfeeding. And most importantly, make sure your partner is on board and also well educated on the benefits. Having them there to help support your breastfeeding journey will help tremendously, especially on the hard nights. There really is several things he can do to help support you and the baby.
Find me on Pinterest for a good place to further your education. I pin only articles that I’ve read thoroughly and thought was educational and informative for any mom, partner or person.
I’m feeling good about breastfeeding so far. It’s been a stressful, painful experience at some points. It’s still a let down (haha) that I can’t exclusively breastfeed my baby. I’m feeling good about what I can provide though! And I’m working hard every day to keep up my milk supply for her. Primarily that means expressing every time she has a bottle, using my hand. I still avoid the pump and found it painful, uncomfortable and nearly impossible to do as a stay at home mom who prefers attachment methods of parenting (I like to be hands-on and available for my baby, not strapped and immobile on a machine for an hour or more a day).
Am I looking forward to continuing this journey for another year and a half? Yes, I am. I’m game, I’m a proud breastfeeding mama (if you can’t tell).
Hand Expressing Vs Pumping
Hand expressing milk has been the answer to almost all of my troubles with breastfeeding!
A few notes for you to consider
- Hand expressing is easy and can be done anywhere
- You can use bottles or skinny cups catch milk (bowls don’t work, you spray everywhere) easily
- With a little practice, it’s quite easy to master the hand expressing technique
- You get to know your own breasts better when you hand express!
Hand expressing has helped with my low milk supply in many ways.
The most important key to maintain milk supply is keeping breasts drained. By pumping or hand expressing, emptying your milk ducts is the main trigger that signals your body to make more milk!
In my first three months of breastfeeding, I neglected to express every time my baby was fed formula. I thought it was about timing when to pump and for “how long to pump”. But it’s a lot simpler than that. I need to express whenever my baby should be nursing and isn’t. (For working moms, that’s expressing at work on a schedule that closely matches your baby’s feeding schedule. For stay at home moms that substitute with formula like me, that means every time you give them formula instead of being able to nurse for a full feeding.) My trouble is whether I pump or hand express, while she drinks her 3 Oz, I express 0.5-1 ounce from both breasts. And that isn’t enough to satisfy her. Granted she nurses before and after the formula fed bottle usually. In other words, I’m nowhere near being able to exclusively feed her my milk. I’ve accepted this, and am happy about it because of how healthy my child is being fed both breast milk and formula. We’ve now introduced CJ to single solid foods (video) as well now, and she’s enjoying that a lot!
Another thing that I think I was lacking is consistent let down(s) and milk flow. Most women complain of having an overactive milk flow, in which their let down comes down fast and hard. Sometimes too fast for the baby, overwhelming them with milk and creating a mess of the mama! I didn’t realize my slow milk flow and lack of letdowns until I started hand expressing.
I’ve been doing this for about a month now, and have noticed a massive improvement in my milk flow. Having an easier time getting multiple let downs (I was only getting one, sometimes another short burst). This in time ends up shortening the amount of time it takes me to completely drain each breast. Which ultimately makes it even easier for me to stay on top of everything that has to do with living with a baby. I hate having to hook up to a pump, clean parts, process milk stashes. When I can easily just grab a clean bottle, hand express (until I’m empty) and provide that milk warmed to my baby, sometime later that same day. (Honestly, I’m six months in and am not at all concerned with building any kind of milk stash. Dun dun dun.)
I still drink lots of water, stick to one cup of coffee (okay fine, no more than two on a crazy day), and eat a crap ton of oatmeal. I think bed sharing and letting her nurse at night and before naps still has a lot to do with my nipples getting that stimulation they need. Having her saliva on my nipples will allow my body to make special mixtures of nutrients and antibodies to help her survive when she turns ill (it’s inevitable, she’ll get sick someday).
And then… there’s the cuddles…
The Breastfeeding Bond Between Mother and Child
Honestly, the good, healthy reasons to breastfeed is awesome and all. Being empowered that I provide her nutrition feels great and all… But the bond that is formed between mother and child while breastfeeding is like no other pleasure in this realm.
As I try to explain to you the bond, the power, the energy, the connection that forms between me and my child. I sit back in my chair right now and all I can do is think about holding her closely for another embrace. There is no explaining it. Breastfeeding is one of my very favorite pleasures in life that only I can enjoy as a woman. I’m a proud breastfeeding mom. I’m a happy mother of a breastfed baby girl. Life with a baby is the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced. Thanks for reading, fellow humans.
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Love from @luvlifewlee, thanks!
Have you ever tried hand expressing milk? Will you be trying it after reading this post? Let me know in a comment below!