So… i have been receiving a ton of questions regarding my breastfeeding journey with James. But first, a little disclaimer. This is not to guilt trip any mother that formula feeds, this is not to bash formula feeding moms and this is not to promote breastfeeding as the top choice. I am sharing MY journey and everything I went through the past two years with little James.
The past two years… man it was hard. I promise you, this child wanted nothing but boob. Mommy’s milk. He wouldn’t even take it in a bottle – had to come from the source!
But let me start at the beginning. I had a massive overflow of milk when it came in on day three after he was born. So much so, he struggled to feed. The day after we got home from the hospital, i cried on my bed, my mother consoling me and helping me express a little to relieve my rock hard boobs. And low and behold, because my breasts were softer, he drank! A full feed. I was overjoyed! We had our usual ups and downs with breastfeeding. Some days he was attached to my breast all day, other days he only drank every 3-5 hours. Newborns aren’t predictable – at all.
When those days came when he was basically permanently drinking from my breast, i never once thought my milk was the problem. I never once thought to supplement because in my mind, he was doing okay. Just a little growth spurt or he needed extra comforting. It made me tired as hell but we pushed through. He was doing many wet nappies and dirty ones and was gaining weight, so i knew he was getting enough, so i justified the extra feeding that he needed some comfort for his growing little body. I had to give myself a pep talk every day (sometimes a few times a day) to remind myself that this was never supposed to be easy, and all the hardships that come with it will make us stronger in the end.
Since i left him with granny to go work when he was only two weeks old (just for one day, i had to photograph a wedding), he refused a bottle. At two weeks old he refused to take my expressed milk in a bottle. I bought every bottle on the market. NOTHING worked. Absolutely nothing. He went on a nursing strike every time i left and only drank when he saw me again. This went on for the 8 months of his life until he could drink water from a straw bottle. He loved the straw bottle so much! But only for water – i couldn’t dare put my milk in there, he would have a total meltdown.
I fed him on demand and that is pretty much all that worked for us. So it went for months on end. We kept trying the bottle and he still wouldn’t budge. I never slept as he woke up 3-6 times a night to feed. But i just kept thinking of those magic words “This too shall pass”. I was exhausted, i was drained and i wanted him to wean so badly. Nothing was working and i just had to push through.
He started going to school from a year old and just drank water and ate his snacks and meals. I would feed him as soon as we got home. My milk adapted to this new routine of ours and as the months went by, his feedings decreased. At 1 year and 10 months old, he started sleeping through! Friggin miracle for a breastfed baby. 8pm to 7am every day. At 2 years old i started gradually taking away his night feed. He was okay with it as i explained to him he does not need it and he can have something else instead.
So out breastfeeding journey came to and end at 2 years and 2 months. He understands, he doesn’t cry or moan to breastfeed and he has accepted that our journey has ended. It was a wonderful 2 years and 2 months with many ups and downs, but in the end, i’m extremely proud of what we managed to accomplish!
A few pointers (the things breastfeeding mommies worry about) :
- Just because you express 10ml, does not mean your baby isn’t getting milk. They can get much more out of your breast than a pump.
- If your baby is gaining weight, having enough dirty and wet nappies, they are doing just fine!
- Babies cry. They adapting to the outside world. Their stomachs are adapting. They will get uncomfortable but there are some great videos on Youtube to massage your baby’s tummy to relieve their pain and discomfort.
- It also helped bathing James in bath salt called Kiddi Calm – all natural magnesium sulfate and helps draw out toxins from their body and reduce colic.
- Sometimes supplementing with formula can do more harm than good – it takes them a while to get used to it especially at newborn stage when their stomachs are adapting to drinking milk and not amniotic fluid.
- Ask questions! Don’t be scared. There’s a group called La Leche League South Africa and they have some breastfeeding experts and leaders on there that can give you all the info you need.
- YOUR MILK ADAPTS. When James went to school, i only fed him when he got home after 8 hours. My milk flow adapted as it knew when he drank and we he didn’t. This is how amazing your body is!
And please moms, if there is any questions – you can pop me a mail or message. I tried explaining as much on here as i can without this dragging out to be a school essay. But if this is a bit long, i hope you had some tea or coffee before you started reading. Maybe a chocolate. Or two. That can stay our little secret. 😉