Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Be A Breastfeeding Buddy


We started Billy on solids at 6 months as recommended by his pediatrician and chose to follow the "Baby Led Weaning" approach. We had a WONDERFUL experience with it and I can't begin to say what good it has done in every way.

The one thing I didn't expect is the name itself to be true....it really helped him wean himself. I had a goal of nursing for one year and at a year he was down to nursing two or three times a day. Less than a week later, he was completely uninterested in the breast. He would refuse, turn his head, spit his tongue at me, whatever it took to wriggle away, that's what he would do. 

I am giving myself a round of applause for following his lead because I think as mothers we should follow our babies lead a little more, and our own wishes a little less sometimes. It was so hard for me. 

A few months into my nursing journey I wrote this post where I admitted to being a "snotty breast is best mom". I still agree that breast is best, but you don't know the journey others experience. I struggled tremendously when I started nursing Billy. I was brought to tears for months when he latched on....8-10 times a day, every day. For months. But I had a group text (and still do today! Shout out to Becca & Sara) with two other exclusively nursing moms, along with a lactation consultant and a midwife on speed dial to help me any time of the day or night (not to mention my own mom for support). 

My dear friend Lauren is a hardcore "breast is best" mom also. However, her son was a formula baby. And let me tell you why: 

Within the first few weeks of nursing, Lauren was diagnosed with mastitis twice. The second round of antibiotics didn't work, and the mastitis developed into a staph infection...which then became an abscess the size of a lemon that was growing in her breast. 

She was rushed into emergency surgery to remove the abscess and for weeks she had to drain the infection site and apply bandages to herself. All the while, she kept pumping her "good side" just to maintain a supply to help her son receive breast milk. 

Only 8 weeks into nursing, her journey was forced to a halt when her doctor told her it was time to give up. 

All of this is heart breaking, but what's more is that her doctor never directed her to a lactation consultant. He never told her she could continue nursing on her 'good side' only and sustain her child for a year of breastfeeding and beyond. The education was never presented. 

I was brought to tears when I started nursing because of pain and emotion, and I was brought to tears (for an entire day) when I realized our journey is over...but nothing saddens me more than hearing stories like Lauren's when the opportunity for an education on breastfeeding was available and simply not presented. Not her OBGYN, or her son's pediatrician OR her team of surgeons was open about the truths and possibilities of breastfeeding. For years of planning for motherhood all she wanted was to exclusively breastfeed her child and the professionals she looked to simply failed her. 

I would be lying if I didn't admit to feeling guilty every time I offered my son a breast while her son had to sit and take a bottle. I felt awful when I mentioned to her how "excited" I was to "be done" nursing. 

Well, now I'm done and it's really freaking sad. I miss it and I know I did the best by Billy, because I listened to him but I am sad for all of the mothers like Lauren who just aren't given the right information and aren't able to experience this journey of nursing.

If you or someone you know is interested in or new to breastfeeding, BE A BUDDY! Before you deliver, have a lactation consultant's number ready. Learn the time and place of your hospital's breastfeeding support group (most have them!) and make a plan with your OBGYN and pediatrician explaining your breastfeeding goals. If your ped isn't on board, find one that is. Reach out to Facebook groups of other moms and talk to everyone you know about breastfeeding. It is a wonderful, beautiful gift and as mothers we need to help those around us experience it to the best of all of our abilities. 

Don't let "breast is best" moms be told no. Let them choose their path based on the education that the experienced breastfeeders can offer.
Billy nursing, 10 days new :)


  1. I love this post. Very beautiful and beautiful photos. Part of me wishes mine would wean herself because I do not want to start the process, I keep putting it off. Honestly, I'd keep going if it wasn't for a few different situations and I still don't know when I will wean. It's very annoying that I'm feeling pressure from others to wean (fuel for my post yesterday). I have a feeling with baby two I will let them wean on their own or go until 2 years old. I agree completely about needing a buddy. I could have never made it without my Facebook group. I have so many friends who have given up so quickly because they didn't know or have the help to push through their problems. My heart aches for people like your friend who face so many issues and eventually stop sooner than what they had hoped for. But I always say, any breast milk is a blessing and kudos to every mama who tries. Congrats on a year. I'm sure it is hard that it is over now.

  2. Great blog! I know so many mother's who were failed by their medical professionals and given misinformation. I know others who also just wanted to have an excuse to give up and instead of seeking help switched to formula. Now as far as weaning goes I could use some help! It was so traumatic for Elise I swore I'd let Emma wean herself....now she's 3 1/2 and I have to fight her off constantly. I think I need to go on vacation with out her for a week and see what happens.