I’m finally proud to say that Breastfeeding is now comfortable for me. Even with my baby having 8 teeth in, I have a lot less pain associated with breastfeeding now. I’ll explain a little bit about how our breastmilk vs formula journey has progressed also, as I still struggle with a low supply compared to other moms out there. And finally, the biggest question in determining whether or not we can continue our breastfeeding journey… Can we get her to sleep without the breast?
The Pains and Aches of Breastfeeding
I’m just going to be as transparent as possible and admit that Breastfeeding is SO painful! Especially when your first establishing your latch and routine from 0-3 months. It just plain hurts!
Everything from the latch to cracked nipples to soreness. And then there are other troubles many women face during breastfeeding such as engorgement, mastitis, clogged ducts. Luckily, I didn’t have any of those larger issues, so I don’t have much to write about on these topics from my own experiences. I know from listening and reading from other moms and bloggers, that these things can be extremely uncomfortable. And sometimes leads to infections or even, a reason to stop breastfeeding earlier than you want to.
What caused me the most pain during my breastfeeding journey is cracked nipples. It’s really important to switch sides during feedings. And it’s really common for one breast to produce better than the other, so as the journey progresses it becomes harder to not use that side more than the other. Especially when your baby figures out that they like one side better than the other!
It’s this constant battle, to get CJ to stay latched on my left breast! And to be totally honest, I have a lot less pain associated with that breast! I WISH that she preferred the left side!
But, truth be told, we bedshare now and we do default to the right breast because well, I get tired of the fight. And I just want her to sleep well, and stay asleep full and satisfied. She spends SO MUCH MORE TIME on the right breast.
It’s no surprise then that my right nipple has gone through the most! I have had this nipple give me the most trouble with cracking and being sore to the touch.
My best advice is to hand express some milk after the feed is done. I occasionally would use Earth Mama’s Nipple Butter when it was really dry and sore. For the most part, I finally figured out the secret is just to leave some hindmilk on the nipple after EVER feeding. This way, it ensures that even if I’m not sore now, I probably won’t be later if I do this extra step.
Finally figuring out that expressing hindmilk was the key to keeping my nipples soft and moist, and healthy and I now have VERY LITTLE PAIN breastfeeding!!!
Should you be afraid of getting bit? Nah, honestly it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. Sure it hurts! But it’s more surprising than anything. You learn when your baby is more likely to bite when they are really upset or being extremely silly. So I tend to be careful about when I offer the breast when she’s TOO upset or “mad at me”. I do what I can to calm her down before offering the breast. Which honestly, taught me something about our bond too. It’s really handy having breasts to offer when she’s upset. But! It’s taught me that there are plenty of ways to calm down and help ease the baby. It doesn’t HAVE to be my breast. CJ can be cuddled, and loved, and kissed too!
Breastfeeding with Baby’s First Teeth
I was really scared when my baby got her first teeth in! I was freaked out and scared of getting bit! (Especially on that right breast when I had trouble with cracking and soreness!) There was about a week where the pain was the worst it’s ever been.
The good news? Your breasts toughen up REALLY QUICK! By the time I got bit for the first time, I was surprised at how little it hurt! 🙂
CJ got more than a few teeth in close together. First, she got the bottom two, then about 2 weeks later the top two teeth cut through. About a month later she cut in a third tooth on both the top and the bottom. And again about 2 weeks later, the fourth tooth on the bottom and then the top came through. And now, at 8 months old my baby has a total of 8 teeth!
Considering all these teeth came through rather quickly, my breasts both toughened up more than I ever thought possible. Honestly! It’s amazing how quickly our bodies react to stimulation and changes that your baby goes through!
The big surprise about your baby getting their teeth in is that your breasts toughen up and there’s very little pain now associated with breastfeeding!
My Baby Like To Play With My Nipple Now
When CJ first started having interest in playing with my nipples I was a tad uncomfortable. Do I let her do this? I remember going back and forth the first week with whether or not I would allow this. And here’s what I decided.
She is practicing using her fingers! That’s what this play is really about. CJ’s little fingers would roll my nipple back and forth and at times, tug and pull. So I decided that I wouldn’t allow this as a playful activity “just because” she wanted to. That’s not what they are for Child, straight up!
But I noticed that while she was nursing, she wanted to play with the other side. And this I decided, I would allow.
To be honest this kid is really difficult to breastfeed because of how active she is. When she does have the patience to feed off of me during the day, she tends to go back and forth from each breast rather rapidly. Back and forth, back and forth. So honestly, she really liked playing with one nipple why suckling the other. And I found that this actually helped my body to understand her rapid back and forth, was just helping to keep me “in the zone”. It actually helped to have multiple letdowns too! So when she was in the mood to breastfeed, I would allow her to play with the other nipple!
If she wasn’t interested in nursing, then I wasn’t interested in just letting her play with my nipple.
I also have found that she LOVES doing this when we’re nursing laying down and going to sleep as we bedshare. It doesn’t last long because she drifts into sleep so quickly when she’s nursing laying down and playing with it. So far, I’ve allowed this but I’m starting to wean her from breastfeeding to sleep. (My biggest trouble right now…) So I don’t know whether I’d encourage other mothers to allow this during bedsharing. I probably could have done better getting her to sleep by now without the boob… Oops!
Breastmilk & Formula
Like I admitted in the last breastfeeding from 3-6 months update, I’ve come to terms with my low supply. I have continued to hand express as often as I can. I offer her breast before formula. But I do still feed her formula consistently.
I have upped the amount of formula given during these feeds from 3-4 oz at a time to 4-5 oz at a time now. She is a growing girl, and we found that this amount was more satisfying for her. I have noticed a small increase in my production as she gets older. Probably due to her ability to suck proficiently, and the increase in milk she is able to achieve.
Compared to exclusively formula fed babies who are given up to 8 oz at a time at this age, I feel that her 4-5 oz and my breastfeeding is probably equivalent to that if you combine the nursing before the bottle, the 5 oz bottle, and then nursing afterward. Her pediatrician is extremely happy with her growth and nutrition. And is supportive of my breastfeeding/formula routine right now.
Considering she is now eating 2 meals of solids a day now, I imagine that I will be able to wean her from bottles completely by 1-year-old. I believe she will be getting enough from eating solid foods, breastfeeding, and good old water intake will be enough by then!
My Breastfeeding Worry… Will We Survive Sleeping Apart?
Since the 4 Month Sleep Regression, we have been bedsharing with our daughter. As controversial as it is, this is what has worked for us. And I’m REALLY HAPPY doing so. I LOVE sleeping with her. But as I will outline in the upcoming Milestones post… I’m having a hard time getting her to sleep without the breast.
I have been able to put her to sleep quickly and quietly by dancing around to music and then laying down with her in bed, allowing her to nurse. Like I mentioned in the last Breastfeeding Journey post, I believe this extra time to nurse actually does a great deal to improve my supply!
But as she enters into the 9-12 month age now, I am very much wanting her to be able to put herself to sleep without the breast. Why?
I really want other people to be able to babysit for me. This is the ONLY THING that keeps her from being babysat 1-2 times a week. My marriage has gone through some sacrifice to accommodate her sleeping with us. And as much as I LOVE bedsharing, it’s time to put some separation between baby and my love life. It’s what’s best for my marriage. And whatever is best for my marriage, is best for the baby in the long run.
So we’re really wanting to work on getting her to sleep without nursing! It’s proven to be VERY difficult. Since she was 4 months old I’ve only been able to get her to sleep without the breast once. She falls asleep ON people fine. It’s putting her down alone during the transition that proves to be the problem.
I’m worried that by removing this nursing session that my supply will take another dip. So I’m REALLY trying hard to offer her breast more throughout the day, and especially before her night time bottle!
This may be the determining factor in us continuing our breastfeeding journey into her second year of life with us… Wish me luck!
How Do I Feel About Breastfeeding After 9 Months?
I feel like it’s been SUCH a cool experience. The Breastfeeding Journey has been really beneficial to our baby, and to me!
I don’t think (at least right now) that I’ll be having another child. As you will read in the next Milestones update, I have my hands full with this baby! She’s “ahead” in almost every way. I’m constantly being told that she’s showing signs of “extreme intelligence”. So I really plan to spend my whole life dedicated to CJ and her development into adulthood.
I really do feel that breastfeeding has increased our bond exponentially. But not in the way you’d expect… Coming into six months old, she started to become noticeably attached to me. It was obvious to anyone that she preferred Mama! And as endearing as that is, this was a really hard phase for me. As someone who does admire their independence, I feel like this was a really challenging part of our relationship.
On one hand, I really didn’t appreciate that she only wanted me because I had the boobs. For a moment it made me feel invaluable to her, other than my ability to breastfeed. Even with my low supply, she would nurse for comfort A LOT. And it took me a few weeks to realize that this was just a phase. I talk more about the Object Permanence phase here, because it was a hard lesson for both my baby and I to go through.
I do think though that all these hard lessons that breastfeeding has brought our way already have made our bond better! Better than it would be without breastfeeding. I know that even if it all ended right now, and I could no longer breastfeed. That our relationship has developed SO WELL because of breastfeeding her.
Every single day I’ve been able to offer her the nutrition and the comfort that breastfeeding brings to my baby. This consistent dedication to her is something that I can’t cheat on. It’s something I have to do, whether I want to in that moment or not. It’s taught me the value of being there for her when she needs me. I think it’s easier for me to understand her NEEDS outside of breastfeeding BETTER. Because of the communication and trust we have built together so far by breastfeeding!
I KNOW that she will ask for my help. She KNOWS that I will be there for her. And thus, I KNOW that I can and I will always be there for my daughter. Not just for feedings, but for everything she may ever ask of me.
Breastfeeding isn’t just about nutrition. It’s about nurturing the bond of baby and mother. Being the ONLY ONE that can provide this service to her, has taught me a lot about dedication to my daughter. There are a lot of adjustments that come with having a child enter your life. And I think that I have been made a better mother by breastfeeding because of these lessons.