Breastfeeding: Large & In Charge

January 21, 2013

Before I became a mom, I used to hear women say: “Breastfeeding is hard!”

I never really understood what they meant. I knew that nipple soreness is a common problem in the beginning, and I knew that some women have trouble with supply and others are away during the day and have to pump a lot, which sounds not only difficult but a lot to manage. But otherwise, I really know yet what was so hard about feeding your baby from your breast. Not to say that I thought it would be totally easy, I just didn’t know what to expect.

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Now that I’ve had 4+ months of breastfeeding every 3 hours or less, I understand a bit more of the picture. (That’s over 1,000 nursing sessions, by the way!)

I do want to say also that we have been lucky and seem to have no problems with breastfeeding, so I realize how much harder it can be if you put complications on top of a normal nursing schedule. Keep in mind too that this post is based on my personal experiences only!

On a normal day in the privacy of home, breastfeeding is a complete joy and there is nothing hard about it. I did experience a LOT of nipple soreness. I took me a month to really say “this doesn’t hurt” and probably twice that time to be able to not even feel much other than gentle tugging. I wasn’t expecting it to hurt as much or as long as it did, and that was…hard! But I was dedicated and grit my teeth through the worst parts and luckily, as many other moms promised, we came out on the other side ok.

It was hard at first to get Mazen’s latch right. Everyone told me his latch was perfect, but it just didn’t look as much like a wide open “drinking” motion as the You Tube videos I watched. I realized with time that the older he gets, the more he is the model drinker. Now his latch is perfect, and he gulps milk just like a textbook baby. It just took us 4 months to get there :mrgreen: I think he just had to wait until his mouth got bigger to be able to use it effectively. So in the beginning there was a lot of worry about latch. Luckily his weight gain was stellar so I never worried if he was getting enough, but there are lots of moms who have that added stress. There are always questions floating through the back of my mind: “Am I feeding him too often? Too infrequent? Is his staying on long enough? Too long?” You’d think these answers would be clear, but sometimes they are not.

I STILL don’t really like any of the sitting positions, and I find that side lying is the most comfortable for me and the best way for Mazen to latch. I’m sure it’s an error on my part, but in the sitting positions, I just feel like he’s a bit twisted on and they still hurt a bit, but with side lying, he’s nose-to-nipple perfect and can easily latch himself on. I love lying down, and it’s a great opportunity to rest. He now knows when we lie down to roll onto his side and open his mouth like a baby bird.

Probably the biggest current challenge of breastfeeding for me is nursing in public. I know I could just bare all, but I’m quite shy (I don’t even nurse in front of my family) and so I struggle with covers and balancing Mazen on my lap in strange places. Plus spraying milk all over and getting too hot and where did that burp cloth go and can someone pass me my water bottle!? I try to time it so we were back home for nursing sessions, but of course that’s not always possible. I sort of dread breastfeeding in public because it’s 100 times harder than it is at home.

Pumping is also hard. I heard once that it takes two pumping sessions to make one bottle of milk for a feeding (because pumping is not as efficient at removing the milk as a baby is). I rarely pump now because I got so tired of cleaning parts and bottles. Hats off to you moms who pump daily at work – as much as a breastfeeding supporter as I am, I’m not sure how long I could do that. One thing I did discover recently: my electric pump parts were not clean and we had been on a car trip and ohmygoshIhavetopumpNOW happened. Luckily I have a hand pump too (this one) so I used that instead. I was shocked to discover how much more effective it was!!!!!!!!!!! Now back when Mazen was a newborn, I tried the hand pump and didn’t have much luck, but now things seem to have changed in the way I let down and I suppose milk production too because what would have taken me 30 minutes to get with the electric pump came out with the hand pump in 10 minutes. I was thrilled to be able to get a whole bottle in that short amount of time, and ever since I’ve been using the hand pump over the electric. I’m glad I have both because they have both served great use over the course of 4 months, but the hand pump is 10 times easier because there is less to clean and carry around. So I my advice to you casual pumpers: you might give the old hand pump another go around and see what happens. PS. Massaging my breast is much easier with the hand pump and I get a lot of extra milk with compressions.

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Lastly, the breasts are large and in charge!! I’ve never been scared of my body like I am sometimes when it’s been a long time since I’ve nursed (like in the middle of the night if he sleeps unexpectedly long). The engorgement is scary!! They are really hard as rocks, and all I can think about is “Where is my baby because I need to release this milk now!” You kind of wonder what would happen if you didn’t have a baby or a pump nearby…. So even if your baby takes a bottle well and you have a confident babysitter, you still have to think about your breasts on date nights or days away from home. The milk has to come out…or else.

Before I had Maze, if you asked me what I was most excited about as a mother my answer was breastfeeding. It was something I couldn’t wait to experience. It definitely hasn’t been everything I expected, but the good parts are even better. My favorite time is first thing in the morning when he wakes up babbling in his crib and I bring him into bed snuggled under the covers for breakfast.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

1 aimee January 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

that is so suprising to me about the hand pump! my doc was concerned about my babes weight and wanted me to supplement with formula. i didnt want to so i just started pumping to make sure she was getting enough..it is a full time job pumping! i have to look into a hand pump, thanks for the idea!

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2 Hannie January 29, 2013 at 2:54 am

If you don’t like to pump you might also weigh your baby before and after feeding. That was what we did in hospital when I recovered from C-section (and doctors were afraid that feeding after C section would be hard and he would not get enough).

Hannie

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3 Caroline January 21, 2013 at 8:53 am

I can’t tell you hard I laughed at “the milk has to come out…or else”! :)

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4 KatyBug January 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

I have found that nursing in public gets easier every time I do it…I even nursed right at the table while eating out at a restaurant with a group of other people!

I pump three times a day at work and it’s miserable. I know it’s important and I’ll do it as long as I can, but I’ve come to LOVE “just” nursing at night and on the weekend. It is fun that she’s starting to interact with me more while nursing…although I’ve learned to pull my hair back so it doesn’t get yanked out!

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5 Linda January 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

I breastfed my daughter for a year, and am now 3 months in on breastfeeding my son. I love the experience but it is a lot of work. I also work full time, so I must pump during the day. I always stress a bit about doing or scheduling anything while I’m breastfeeding. There is so much more to worry about. When will I need to nurse, how long will the baby nurse for…if I have a hair appointment, will he need a bottle while I’m gone and then do I need to pump during that time, etc. We’re getting ready to take a trip to Florida and I’m already trying to figure out feeding/pumping schedule with that. In the end it all works out, but it is a lot to always thing about. Only people who breast feed can understand and relate to this. I’m always very aware of not wanting to go too long without nursing/pumping because I’ve already had mastitis once and do not want to get it again. Glad things are working out for you!

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6 Dee January 21, 2013 at 9:35 am

I breastfed my son for 3 months and exclusively pumped for another 10 months. Eventually you just get used to leaving the house with one or more of your pumps with you! In fact once I finally weaned I had a constant nagging feeling every time I left the house like I forgot something. It was nice to be able to leave that one extra bag!
Also for pumping mommas out there, some of the best advice I was given was to by an extra set of pump parts (the best $30 I spent on breastfeeding for sure!), so that you don’t have to feel like you have to wash them IMMEDIATELY, and/or you can keep an extra set at work so its one less thing to potentially forget in the morning. Since I pumped 2-3 times a day at work for 7 or so of those months something little like that was a life saver.
You’re doing great Kath! I don’t think I left the house for 3 months and NEVER nursed in public!

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7 KERF January 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

Extra parts is a great idea

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8 Meredith January 21, 2013 at 9:36 am

Single-with-no-children woman that I am, I used to be rather prudish about nursing mothers who would breastfeed in public. And while that’s something that I think I would have trouble with (I’m also rather shy, and very self-conscious to boot), it doesn’t bother me so much now, as most of my friends have children. Breastfeeding is natural, a part of motherhood for those women who choose to breastfeed.

Also: If 16-year-old guys can wear pants belted to their knees, the general public should have NO problem with a mom modestly breastfeeding her child! :)

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9 Denise January 25, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Meredith, great point about the teenage boys and the fact that they wear super low pants. I can’t stand that, and I’m a college teacher (I used to teach high school). Needless to say I’ve seen more behinds in boxers than I care to admit. I think breastfeeding in public is nothing compared to “sagging.”

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10 Amy January 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

+1 to pumping at work being “miserable”.

Nothing is more frustrating than stripping half naked 3-4 times a day at work to pump, then only producing enough for two of the four bottles needed at daycare tomorrow. :/

But, we will perservere for the sake of health and immunity-building throughout the winter and because mama still enjoys the bonding and snuggles on nights and weekends. When spring and a few teeth arrove, I think we may reevaluate though!

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11 Eileen January 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

I hear that! After the weekend of breastfeeding Monday morning’s pumping sessions are the most productive but by Friday it’s quite a different story. Pumping and working takes breastfeeding dedication to another level. I sometimes have to pump 7-8 times a day for three bottles and then day care gives him a fourth from the freezer. It feels like you can’t keep up and you worry about your milk supply when in reality it’s that much tougher because the pump isn’t nearly as good as your baby himself. UGH! It’s so worth it though but it definitely takes a mental toll on working mamas.

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12 Amy January 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

I am so with you; it is such a constant struggle and can be so diseartening. After all my efforts constantly pumping, with my low supply I never have anything in the freezer and she STILL takes some formula each day. Even though she’s 5 months and taking 4 ounces. Makes you want to give up! But it is so worth it in the end. Good for you for pumping 7-8 times a day. That’s gotta be so hard!

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13 Ashley February 2, 2013 at 9:14 am

Have you tried lactation cookies? I had such a hard time keeping up, but now I eat 2 a day and rarely have to use freezer stash. Plus…cookies! :)

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14 Erika January 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

I was very lucky with breastfeeding. My son was a perfect latcher from the beginning and I never experienced nipple soreness. I breastfed for 1 year (pumped at work after 3 months and still breastfed mornings and night). My son is now 17 months old and to think back to those times I really do miss them – the snuggles were the best and just holding him while he wasn’t squiming all over.

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15 Cat January 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

Amen to the last part! My two month old suddenly went from waking up 5 times a night to 1-2 times last week. I won’t complain about that! But … talk about being uncomfortable around 3 a.m. :).

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16 Jo January 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

I am still breastfeeding my 17-month-old and am so glad it was easy for us – I have friends who haven’t had it easy, and not for want of trying, so I’m grateful that for us it was pretty straightforward and apparently I make double cream because my son has always been on the 98th centile!

I started off pretty self conscious about feeding in public, but here in the UK it’s illegal to stop someone feeding in a public place, and eventually I got all tiger-mom about my rights and would feed anywhere…I had my equalities act legal speech up my sleeve in case anyone ever complained, and they never did!

I also struggled with feeding in public, always needed a pillow – I could never get the angle right with just cradling him in my arm. Thankfully I found a company (UK based) called Thrupenny Bits (it’s cockney rhyming slang…work out what for!) that make almost weightless nursing pillows with removable inserts so when you are done nursing they can be used as bags…changed my life! It made feeding in public soooooo much easier, I could get the latch right first time, I could have a hand free to eat lunch, and didn’t get a sore neck/back/shoulder. I was getting really fed up having to arrange my life around being home for feeds when my friends would just feed with no pillows and no hassle, but this made it so much easier.

The other suggestion I had was, have you ever tried nursing him with him sitting up? I used to sit my son on my leg with one of his legs either side, facing my body, and pull him in close, he was perfect boob height and was latched at the same angle as a side-lying position. Easy to conceal since his head was completely covering the exposed bits! Might be worth a go?!

We are now trying for Number 2 and I am thinking about wrapping up the nursing but I’m so happy that I could do it for so long.

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17 KERF January 21, 2013 at 10:03 am

Love the pillow invention! I’ve tried sitting up once or twice but he didn’t seem to get it all the way. I will keep trying! It’s a really funny position when you first try it

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18 Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries January 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

I SO appreciate this post! I love hearing about other moms’ experiences with breastfeeding as it’s something I certainly plan to do, but I’m also a little anxious about it all. I have a feeling I’ll be a little shy about breastfeeding in public as well, but we’ll see how it goes. Thanks again for sharing your experience with us!

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19 Mary January 21, 2013 at 10:06 am

I’m now nearly 1 month in to breastfeeding my daughter. It’s been hard, and remains hard, but is getting easier. We were messed up by a hospital readmission for jaundice when she was in an incubator, so nursing was very time pressured by needing to get her back in, and at a time when nursing wasn’t established, she basically refused, and we were both frustrated. After a week of formula top ups, and low supply, we’re back to exclusively breastfeeding.

But my nipples are still occasionally sore, not helped by the reaction I’ve just started having to my breastpads! Do you still need to use them? And which brand do you use? We’re snowed in here so I can’t even get out to get some more!

I was never that fussed about breastfeeding before she arrived: I thought I’d give it a go and not worry if it wasn’t happening. I also assumed it would be easy! But it was when I couldn’t that I realised how important it actually was to me, and though the nights are hard, how much I appreciate that bonding time, that thing that only I can do for her.

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20 KERF January 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm
21 jen_alluisi January 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I invested in some washable nursing pads – Bamboobies – that I love so much more than the disposables. I have enough to get me through a week, but I do laundry more often than that so I’ve never really been in danger of running out. http://www.amazon.com/Bamboobies-Super-Soft-Washable-Nursing/dp/B007D43X82/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1358966996&sr=8-5&keywords=bamboobies

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22 Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength January 21, 2013 at 10:46 am

HAHAHA – I was totally large and in charge when I was nursing too (at least for me). Don’t worry – once you’re done I bet you’ll have the opposite problem and they will be nice and deflated. ;-)

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23 KERF January 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Can’t wait :)

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24 KERF January 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm

{for deflation, not being done nursing}

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25 Allison k January 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

As a fellow large breasted woman, it’s possible that you need to support the underside of your breast while nursing sitting up. I haven’t ever been able to conquer nursing laying down, unless the baby is draped over the top of me (which we did a few times in the early days). Because I have to support the underside of my breast, NIP is pretty annoying, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Anderson will no longer nurse under a cover, he just rips it off. So, it is what it is!

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26 jen_alluisi January 21, 2013 at 11:52 am

All I can say is WORD. It is not the easiest thing I have ever done. And I’m on the full-time working mom pumping bandwagon as well – 3 times a day while I’m at work, though I don’t seem to have any trouble getting enough for her bottles from a 10-minute pumping session at the moment. She takes 4 oz a time at the moment, and that’s about how much I can pump in 10 minutes 3 hours after my last pumping session. If she ups her intake though we’ll be struggling. I’m trying to stash at least one bag of milk in the freezer every day because I travel for work – I have an 8-day trip for work at the end of April/beginning of May, and I’m trying so hard to save up enough to feed her while I’m gone! If we can’t make it though, there may be some formula in her future that week. She’ll turn 6 months old while I’m gone, so I guess I feel OK about that if it’s necessary. Lord knows plenty of awesome people were strictly formula-fed as babies (including myself!) and they all turned out just fine :)

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27 jen_alluisi January 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

Oh, and I forgot to mention – I also HATE nursing in public. Even if people are visiting my house it’s a pain because I have to go in a different room (I usually just do it in our living room when it’s just us home because we spend 90% of our time there). Not only does that mean I’m not in the same place with my same stuff, I feel cut off from everyone else I want to visit with. I haven’t actually nursed out in public yet (other than in an exam room at the dr’s office) – we’ve been able to time it so that I haven’t had to, but if I were going somewhere other than mom’s group or yoga or the doctor or whatever with the baby for long enough that I thought she might get hungry before we get back, I might just pack a bottle since we’re used to that routine anyway…

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28 Stephanie January 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

I am jealous that your son wakes up “babbling”. My 7 week old always wakes up crying or straining. Haha

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29 KERF January 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Haha these days are not the majority : )

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30 coco January 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I think as they get bigger, they become more social. my baby used to wake up crying, now she wakes me babbling and smiling. :)

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31 Abby January 21, 2013 at 11:57 am

Great post! I nursed my almost 2 year old for 16 months, and now am nursing my 4 month old. It is a lot of work. I had to see a lactation consultant/nurse for the first time go around. She helped so much with technique. The second kiddo it’s been so much easier as far as technique. Sometimes it’s not as relaxing when I have my oldest wanting to snuggle too or wanting something else. I too, think pumping is hard and only do it occasionally. Hats off to those mothers who do it all the time! I contribute all the hours spent nursing to my daughters health. Not one ear infection or anything beyond the common cold in this household.
I nurse in public and it got easier every time I did it. I think about how our media/tv allows to show so much skin of women, and I think well I am doing something that is very natural and my baby needs to eat. Plus I show less of my boobs in public than what we see on tv, movies, and magazines!

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32 Sarah January 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I just tried breastfeeding in the car for the first time yesterday, and MAN was it hard. My arms were killing me and I was dripping milk all over myself. It’s just too much trying to adjust the cover, hold up your shirt, hold your baby, get your latch right. Then you have to put it all away and get all buttoned up… And then out comes the diaper changing stuff! It really makes you appreciate being in your own home.

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33 coco January 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I totally agree, bf is hard but so good, I love it’s, before giving birth I said I’d bf for 6 months for baby’s benefit, but now I want to do for a year at least if once igo back to work my supply is still good because I enjoy so much of our nursing/bonding sessions. Recently she has became so efficient that she is done about 10 min and starts “talking and looking” to me, so cute! :)

engorgement, that’s not fun, I totally get that “baby help mom to release it ” feeling. it’s like they are doing us a great favor! :)

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34 Kate January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Great post!
I have a 10 month old and I must say that once the baby gets bigger sitting up and feeding is much easier! When she was 5 or 6 months I wondered why I still needed the boppy to be comfortable sitting up. But as she grew it got much easier! All the positioning advice I got from my mom and aunts didn’t make sense until she was about 8 months too. I realized they remembered nursing an older baby not shrimpy younger one. I am sure you realized but things change fast! Soon he will roll and crawl away while you are laying there wondering where the time went.
I am not comfortable nursing in public either! Have you tried a nursing tank top under a regular shirt? You pull the top up and tank down and nothing shows! You just have to be prepared to react quickly if he pops off. Great job mama!

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35 Kristi January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Luckily I never had sore nipples but I’ve had oversupply and heavy let down which was hard for my guy to handle the first month or so. Coughing, choking, crying, and spitting up were a given at every feed – no public nursing for me! He’s 7 weeks now and 90% of feeds are uneventful although he’s started fighting the early am feeds. I’ve tried side lying but I’m pretty small chested and I find I have to arch my back strangely and bebe doesn’t seem too thrilled with it either. Plus I didn’t care for the inevitable spit up or milk spray on the sheets. It would be so nice around 3am though!

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36 Laura January 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I hated nursing covers. I always wear a nursing tank top with a regular shirt over it, so you just pull up your shirt and unlatch the tank top. Practice in front of a mirror and you’ll see how completely covered you are and how much easier it is than using a cover. Also, check out The Leaky Boob on facebook to be part of a whole community of breast feeding support. It really helps with the unforseen bumps along the nursing journey. My daughters 2nd birthday is next month as is the 2 year anniversary of our nursing journey =) Good Luck!

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37 Ashley January 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Came here to post just this. When I am out in public I either wear a nursing tank under any shirt, or a nursing bra under a stretchy v-neck shirt. Very little skin is exposed when you do it this way!

And I found that nursing at my mommy group helped make me comfortable nursing in front of the general public. Other moms get it. :)

Love the pics, M is getting cuter and cuter.

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38 Jen January 21, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hey Kath, just popping over to say holy crap, bfing is hard! Also it is ridiculous how much you have to think about your boobs. My husband bought me a massage for my birthday and I had to lay on my stomach and it was awful. (So… if you’re ever thinking about getting a massage, try to get one that’s especially for postpartum!)

Also Maze is so cute! :)

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39 Lindsay @ Fuel My Family January 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I’ve often thought about a hand pump because i have so much milk i dont think id have issue with it. Ive enver heard it actually being faster though! Something to think about for the next one for sure. I think people saying breastfeeding shouldnt hurt if they are latched correctly is one of the worst statements EVER! I think it makes new moms think they arent doing it right and then they stop nursing all together. It hurts like hell but the more I talk to other moms the more it seems to be the norm!

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40 Lissy January 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Love the title!

I’ve bf both of my kids for 2 years each and I’m looking forward to the third coming! I ended up having to bf in the football hold for the first which doesn’t bode well for nursing in public, and since that was what I knew I did it with the 2nd. I also pumped for 10 months or so with both of them (since I work full time), and I still think it was the best thing I could have done for them.

I’m proud of myself for keeping them alive for 6+ months with breastmilk alone. However, I’m definitely not large and in charge anymore! :)

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41 Janna Lauver January 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Oh Kath, I almost cried reading this. I wish I could convey so accurately how hard breastfeeding was for me.
So many tears were shed in the first 6 months of Peyton’s life: I cried for 3 months when my baby would latch and the painful 20 minute feedings would start. I cried when my nipples cracked, bled and then my child would spit up my blood. I cried when I spent time pumping instead of playing. I cried over a bottle of spilled breast milk. I cried when I felt like a failure. I cried through a month of exclusive pumping trying to save my poor breasts (and my sanity). I cried when my OB prescribed me anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications for postpartum depression. I cried when I switched to formula. I cried whenever I read other mom’s facebook posts about how awesome breastfeeding was going… because I felt like a failure over and over again.
Thank you for prevailing and for putting words to the feelings I could never explain.

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42 KERF January 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

So sorry you had such trouble : ( you should be proud of your effort for sure

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43 Tara January 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Janna, I hear you! So many tears were shed the first month or so for me. I pretty much exclusively pump now (I’ll try a nursing session once every other day or so just to keep him interested) because of what you mentioned. My guy had lots of latching issues and I had the cracked and bleeding nipples and we actually took him to the ER one night because he vomited blood and it turned out it was just my blood he’d ingested. I never thought it would be so hard! I’m headed back to work in about a week and I hope I’ll be able to keep up the pumping but it sucks! I hate that I don’t have that bonding time that so many nursing moms have, but I know my guy is healthy and happy and that’s all that matters.

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44 Janna January 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Peyton turned 14 months old this week. My heart knows she benefited from five months of breast milk and sometimes my head does too.
I am glad I put in the time and effort but boy was it hard.
Keep at it Tara; you’ll most likely find a rhythm to your feedings and pumping a. If you end up switching to formula like I did at 6 months… Don’t worry! Your baby will be healthy, Happy & well adjusted as well as nourished!

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45 Averie @ Averie Cooks January 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Thank you for this post, Kath. My ‘baby’ is turning 6 next week and I think back to everything I went through when I read this post and can put myself so squarely right back to what feels like a lifetime ago. Everything you said, I found myself either nodding in agreement or being able to relate…from where is my baby NOW, i.e. the rocks comment, to taking month(s) to really fully hit your stride to it being such a gift for you two :) I am so happy for that!

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46 Sarah @ Williamsburg Baby January 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I was also surprised that I hated nursing in public as much as I do. I am all for other women breastfeeding in public, but for whatever reason I really don’t feel comfortable nursing in a crowded social situation. The covers seem so awkward and it’s another piece of annoying gear to think about. But Axel was such an active eater that his head was always bobbing on and off and it was impossible to be discreet. What I wound up doing in the early days (when my baby was over about 6-8 weeks old) was pumping a bottle for times when I knew we were going out to brunch or dinner or having friends visit. Then of course when I went back to work when he was 11 weeks, I wound up having to pump all the time, and I gradually found that I sort of lost a bit of confidence in breastfeeding. It sounds strange, but once you get used to the idea of giving a measurable number of ounces, doing it the plain old natural way seems very inexact, and you find yourself second guessing whether the baby is hungry or not. At Christmas I found it tough too…everyone is pro-breastfeeding in my family, but it’s hard to explain that if I am nursing in an empty room, I feel uncomfortable if someone comes in and sits down to chat with me. You don’t want to be rude. That said, I love that I am still able to breastfeed at least half of the time…it’s not that I hate it, I just find the feeling of being exposed one that’s hard to grapple with.

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47 Alicia January 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

You should learn how to hand express! It’s really useful and easy, and some women like it better than even the manual pump. Just good to know.
I am pretty darn bold about public nursing because I think it serves the public as well as my child. It’s incredibly important to me that other moms and children (heck anybody) see me nursing because I want to be a part of normalizing public nursing. We deserve it. There’s absolutely nothing immodest about it.

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48 J January 30, 2013 at 12:27 am

Yes! Absolutely! There’s Nothing whatsoever to feel immodest or awkward about nursing in public. I echo what the other girls have been saying, the nursing tank and shirt over is an easy, awesome way to stay covered up while feeding baby at home or in public. It works great on airplanes! I’ve had strangers come up to me while feeding my baby then yelp, “oh you’re nursing? I couldn’t tell!!!” It makes me laugh. I’m not uncomfortable, so then they calm down too.
The more I breastfeed my baby in public, the more I am “normalizing” it for the young women and little girls who will be mothers in their turn.

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49 Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) January 21, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Great post. I exclusively pump and have been doing so since my daughter was 3.5 months. She’s almost 9 months now. I never got sore but she would always cry (sometimes scream) when I tried to nurse her off my left side (right side was always fine!). So. . . I would try every-time and then end up having to pump the left side since she wouldn’t eat. I was also having to use nipple shields because my girl developed a silicone dependency from a paci early early on in the hospital (rookie mistake!). Since every nursing session ended in her crying and me pumping, I decided to just pump exclusively. Thankfully I can pump a bottle in ten minutes so it doesn’t take too long. I am very thankful that I stay at home with my daughter. Not sure how you working moms pump all the time!!! Major kudos to you!

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50 Nancy January 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I don’t know why no one ever talks about part-time breastfeeding. With my first, I went back to work at 8 weeks I think. One of the other dietitians at work suggested part-time breastfeeding. I bf first thing in the morning, he got 2 bottles at daycare during the day, then I bf right after work and as much as he wanted/needed in the evening/during the night. I only had to pump if I had to stay late to teach a class in the evening (You can just use your own hand to pump if necessary). I did this for a couple months until I had to do a sudden wean due to my getting food poisoning. Obviously exclusive bf is ideal, but this is a decent compromise especially if pumping at work is such a hassle that you end up quitting bf altogether.

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51 KERF January 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

This is a really great compromise for those who don’t want to pump but keep nursing as much as possible.

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52 Irene January 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

I think most people would lose their supply fast if they did this.

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53 KERF January 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

Wouldn’t they maintain the morning and night feeding supply though? The times when the baby still stimulated?

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54 Jen January 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I could never keep up with pumping enough during the day. She ate more in bottles than I could pump at work, so I ended up doing what Nancy mentioned. I continued that way for another 2-3 months and then my supply was too low for even that. However, I had low supply the entire time I breastfed. I BF for six months and it was full of constant weight checks (not always great ones) and doing everything to try and increase supply. Others might have more success maintaining partial BFing.

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55 Sam January 28, 2013 at 12:18 am

Yes, part-time breastfeeding worked for me. I would nurse my son once or twice in the morning before I left for work, pump 2-3 times at work while my son got bottles of pumped milk during the day, and then I’d nurse him several times in the evenings and during the night (and sometimes pumped once before bed).

Around 10-11 months, I was finally able to stop pumping because he was eating solids during the day and I would just nurse him first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Breastfeeding was really enjoyable at that point, much less of a task and very snuggly.

The only reason I weaned at 17 months was because I was pregnant again, my son had a lot of teeth and wanted to chew, and the pregnancy hormones made it unbearably painful to breastfeed a chewing toddler.

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56 Nancy January 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

My body seemed to adjust to producing less during the day, but I still had plenty for the rest of the times he nursed. Of course you still need to keep up with plenty of fluid intake, good nutrition etc. as well as nursing often during non-work hours. I never had trouble with adequate milk supply fortunately.

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57 Marcia January 23, 2013 at 11:30 pm

I guess it depends. I know a few people who did this ver successfully. And some who,lost their supply when they went back to work even wi pumping.

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58 Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf January 24, 2013 at 12:15 am

Agreed. My mom wasn’t able to get very far breastfeeding me or either of my sisters since she was only breastfeeding part-time (various issues, lacking support/poor latch with me, failure to thrive/colicky with one sister, and busy trying to sell our house by owner with my other sister), and she dried up VERY quickly with all of us. I do think that there are many women who can do it and still maintain their supply, but I think I’d be too scared to try.

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59 Amelia January 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Breastfeeding part-time usually works better with older babies – a.k.a. babies who are already eating solids as part of their nutrient needs – the specific age probably depends but definitely > 6 months. Supply may go down fast, or over a couple of months, but it does diminish when you’re not nursing for a long period of hours.

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60 Megan January 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm

What manual pump do you use? I have a 6 week old and though breastfeeding is getting better everyday its been quite the struggle! I have a medela pump in style but I think I might give the manual a chance! :)

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61 KERF January 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Medela Harmony

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62 aimee January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

which electric pump were you using? just trying to decide if i want to get the manual one..i have the medela swing pump and am looking for something more portable and efficent,

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63 KERF January 21, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I have the pump in style electric And medela harmony hand pump

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64 Kym January 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Could you provide a quick comparison in the milk output for time between the pumps? Such as 2 oz in 5 mins with this one vs 3 oz in 10 mins with the other, something like that. I have a Medela Freestyle and I’m only getting 1 letdown with it these days even after 25 mins. Sometimes I get 2.5 oz per side, sometimes only 1 oz per side, after 3 hours since his last feeding (I pump 3 hours after he goes to sleep, breastfeed the rest of the day). I’m considering getting a manual pump as well to see if I get a better/more letdown(s) with it – I can feel more milk in there that it’s not getting out, and I’m getting plugged ducts on the left side every other day. Thank you if you can!

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65 KERF January 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I’m really not quite sure and haven’t done much testing. On Christmas I pumped with the electric for ~30 minutes and got 5 ounces (both sides, and it was instead of feeding vs. in addition to). The next week I used the manual (same conditions) and got 5 ounces in 10 minutes.

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66 Lisa @ I'm an Okie January 21, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Ah. Breastfeeding. I’m now a labor and delivery nurse, and love teaching women about breastfeeding — but had an awful time of it myself. My daughter was born with a high palate and had troubles latching (as in….she never did). I saw LC after LC and it never really worked. Thankfully, I pumped early as I was trying to get her to latch for the first few weeks. I’d pump, and then syringe feed her (didnt want to use a bottle and confuse her too early). It was a hellish few weeks. I pumped more and more and after about 3 weeks gave her a bottle, but still tried daily to get her to latch. Eventually, as I went back to work, I gave up and decided to just pump and no longer try to go to the breast (I’d get emotional every time).

So, I work 12 hour shifts and pump exclusively for my 6.5 month. I don’t feel like we need praise– if it’s something that’s important to you — you just do it. I’m thankful that I have maintained a decent supply and have the ability to provide for my child.

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67 Lulu January 21, 2013 at 9:40 pm

I’m a mama of two – and the first was a dream a breastfeeder and I breastfed her for 18 months. The second was less great. His latch was painful for nearly the entire time he nursed and he was a biter. I nursed him for 2.5 years. Neither child ever had a bottle and I went back to work when they were both quite young (around 2 months). Their dad would just bring them to my work when they needed to eat. This was quite a set-up but I was not willing to pump or to give formula. I’m a researcher and one of the things I study is breastfeeding trends in the developing world – mostly countries in Africa. Breastfeeding is such a time consuming and culturally complicated experience. And I think we deal with it, here in the US (and really in many other countries as well) without really an adequate amount of support. Health organizations, scientists, doctors have managed to put an amazing amount of pressure on moms to breastfeed a certain way, for a certain length of time, etc. To breastfeed “properly” has almost become a luxury that’s available only to a very few women with extensive economic and time resources available to them.
Anyway, I guess I couldn’t read without posting and just offering a bit of support to all women who raise babies in the best way they know how. I breastfed my second, on demand, beyond two years and with no bottles (although he did take a pacifier) in an effort to really understand what we are demanding of women and it is a lot of very hard work and I truly do not think this amount of hard work is really well acknowledged.

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68 Angelica January 22, 2013 at 7:03 am

I love this comment and couldn’t agree more. My daughter, 17 months, only just started eating solids and is still mostly breastfed. I was so stressed and jealous of other moms who weaned at 12 months and whose babies ate well at 4/6 months abd nursed like clockwork every 3-5 hours. We introduced solids at 6 months, but she wouldn’t eat for whatever reason, and wanted to nurse ALL the time. I finally just let go of the comparisons (and quit Facebook, ha!) and just totally went with the flow and now we’re so much less stressed. And I am so grateful that I don’t have to work and that breastfeeding has been beyond successful. First-world problems, right? :)

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69 Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles January 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for the hand pump tip. I never would have guessed. At six weeks, I have one boob that doesn’t hurt anymore and another that is still tender. Can’t wait to get past that. Great post Kath.

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70 A.S. January 22, 2013 at 8:26 am

I BF my little one for 14 months – we had a lovely nursing relationship. I did start working 2 days a week when he was 6 months old and had to pump at work. I am an “average” producer – I made what he needed if he nursed at the source. The less efficient pumping process only produced 75% of what he needed – so I was constantly pumping before work or at night to give him all the milk he needed for the next day. My husband was very supportive of this, and for that, I am so thankful. Thank you for the information on the manual pump – I had one, and used it in the start, and it barely worked. Never thought to use it later – I will have to try with the next one. Thanks!!

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71 Katie G January 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

Yay for a post on breastfeeding. I exclusively breastfed my son for 14 months and I look back on that time as a precious bonding time for us. Eleven of those fourteen months, I pumped M-F and my son went to school. I wanted to provide comments for working moms — pumping isn’t awful and you CAN do it. Everyone pumps a different amount, some pump easily, some it is more work for. Instead of thinking about how much you pump, think rather about how much your child would likely eat at that time in the day if you were breastfeeding. Your body is miraculous and the business of making milk is supply and demand. If you (pumping) or your baby tell your body a certain amount of milk is needed and it is taken out of your body, your body works to replace it. After a few repeats of the pattern, your body adjusts. I was amazed that when I measured my breastmilk into bottles and freezer bags, I would make the same amount every day — not in rough numbers but very exactly. The precision and perfection of our body’s ability to take care of a child is God’s gift!

A caution, there are a lot of differing views and certainly many who have difficult experiences with breastfeeding. I know I searched and googled while pregnant and in early days of bfeeding to find “how-to” and encouragement. I think it is great to give real life-experiences, but be careful not to pass off your experiences as fact. (Two pumping sessions for one bottle?) Maybe instead, link to a real source of information, like la leche league. You can do whatever your baby and body allow you to do and everyone’s nursing story is different. For those who work through the learning period at the beginning, the time can create wonderful memories of baby-days!

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72 Amy January 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I don’t think Kath is passing off her experience as fact necessarily, it’s just that it’s her blog, so it makes sense to be written through her point of view about her experiences.

I’ll add that I unfortunately am one of those mothers that has to pump (at least!) twice to get one bottle. My milk supply when pumping has barely adjusted since she was a newborn (now 5 months). And I nurse on demand, baby-wear, co-sleep (a lot of the time, though as she is getting older we’re transitioning to the crib), and use a decent double electric pump (pump-in-style) at least 3 times a day at work.

I personally do find pumping an awful hassle, I just choose to do it anyway. I’d never try to sway another mom toward or away from doing it. I suppose that speaks to your point that everyone’s experience is different and moms should get all the info they can from both sides, and then settle into what works best for them and their families.

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73 Sara January 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm

So glad you talked about the manual pump. I didn’t want to buy an electric pump until I found out 1) if my insurance would cover the cost (I heard some do!) and 2) if I could get the hang of the breastfeeding thing first. I will have to pump while at work so I probably will need an electric pump too, but maybe not. I’m taking a breastfeeding course at my hospital before birth and am excited to learn more! I too am shy and I don’t look forward to feeding in public but you gotta do what you gotta do! I just hope my family will be supportive too. My mother and my mother-in-law formula fed. So we’ll see how it goes! Glad I have blogs to read for support. I also thought last night about how awesome it would be to win a million dollars so I could stay at home with my son. It’s fun to dream!

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74 Lisa @bitesforbabies January 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

People always say I’m a trooper because I chose to have a natural birth! Are you kidding me?! I decided not to breastfeed and to be honest I don’t think I would have been able to handle it!! I’d take another natural labour over breastfeeding any day!

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75 Lauri January 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I think it’s wonderful you had a good experience breastfeeding and I typically think everyone has a right to their opinion, and to share their experience, of course, but I just have to take issue with one sentence in your update – “On a normal day in the privacy of home, breastfeeding is a complete joy and there is nothing hard about it.” I think it might better to qualify that for YOU this was a true statement. However, to say that there is nothing hard about it is really taking away from all the women out there who have attempted, and failed, who found it beyond difficult, and who just couldn’t keep up with it, for whatever reason. A woman reading this who found breastfeeding very hard may feel inferior based on this statement. I just don’t think you can say “there is NOTHING hard about it” without clarifying that FOR YOU there was nothign hard about it.

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76 jill January 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Kath stated near the top of the post to keep in mind that this is based on her experiences only.

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77 Sarah January 23, 2013 at 1:06 pm

The sentence right before this one says that this post is about her personal experience only, and the rest of the paragraph is about other details of her experience – soreness at the beginning, etc. Unless someone is reading that one sentence out of context, it seems extremely clear that this entire post is Kath’s description of her own experience, and that this sentence means that for her, now that she’s past the early difficulties, nursing is easy for her unless she’s in public, not that no one else should ever have experienced difficulties.

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78 Marcia January 23, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Yep it is hard. I nursed my first for 13.5 months and the first six weeks were awful. My second baby is six months, and I’d say the first 10-12 weeks were so painful. We are good now.

Nursing In public takes practice. It’s way easier to do it sitting, naturally, and it’s also way easier to ditch the cover and just pull up the shirt. I never had a cover with my first. I used one with my second for the first few months, but now it’s not worth the juggling.

Pumping sucks for sure. I pumped at work up to one year. For number two, I’m at six months. I pump 3x a day on work days, twice at work, once at home. I have three sets of parts. I am always washing parts and bottles.

I have also had a number of clogged ducts, possibly related to dehydration. Every time I get one, I think about quitting. I had the same issue with the first, even had mastitis, still never used formula. But this time, it’s just harder. It sure ill make it a year without formula. My freezer stash is a lot smaller than last time, and now we are using some milk to make baby cereal.

Kellymom is a great resource for breastfeeding.

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79 Jen January 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I’m nursing my 2.5 month old now, and I really love it. I’m headed back to work in about a week and a half, and I’m more stressed about being separated from him than I am about pumping! I love him so much that I would do anything to ensure that he gets his mama’s milk–which he loves loves loves. He’s already 16 lbs at 10 weeks!

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80 Jenny January 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Nursing in public gets SO MUCH EASIER the more you do it. Now that I’m nursing my fourth baby, I don’t really find anything challenging about nursing…not even in public and I HATED nursing in public. As I’m nursing my baby with one hand while stirring chicken soup with other hand and playing cars with my two year old (by pushing them around with my foot), I look back at all my breastfeeding challenges with my first baby and chuckle;-)

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81 lauri January 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Glad to hear bf is going well for you! It has definitely been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!!! I pump at work 2x a day and get between 8-10oz off. I definitely feel the pressure to keep up on days I get less, but so far I’ve managed to keep up For the most part! The pumping/cleaning doesn’t bother me and I usually sit in my office and write notes (multi-tasking!!), but the constant worry that i could lose my supply drives me nutzo!

I don’t reall get engorged anymore, and in a weird way, I kinda miss it! you KNOW there is a lot of milk in there when they get rock hard!! Now I get excited when I wake up in the am and feel ‘kinda full’!

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82 Rachel January 27, 2013 at 12:01 am

I exclusively pump and a couple of weeks ago ended up away from home a LOT longer than I expected without my pump. I started having letdowns while driving, and ended up having to pull over in the cold and literally just squeeze milk out of my breasts in a private area. Even then, I ended up leaking through 2 sets of pads, my bra, a tank top, and a shirt… My husband felt so bad for me, but it was all so ridiculous that I laughed the whole time. Who would guess they’d ever end up in a situation like that?

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83 Erin Motz January 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I always appreciate these posts! For someone who wants children it’s an awesome insight into what it’s “really” like. As usual, thank you for the info! And contrary to your “problem” of having breasts that are too large, I yearn for the day!! LOL!!

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84 Jessie January 29, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I love the side-lying position too! A friend of mine calls it “leisure boob.” :D

One thing you might try, if you are interested in getting more comfortable nursing in front of others, is to nurse in front of a mirror. You can see what others see (not much!) and it might make you more confident. It also helps me to remember that I am making nursing in public “normal”–when lots of women do it, it becomes less noticable over time in our society. But of course, everyone has a different comfort level, and I understand why some women choose to use a cover or nurse somewhere private.

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85 KERF January 29, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Great suggestion!

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86 Janet Williams February 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Love this post and the comments! It takes me back to the days I breastfeed my now 27 and 21 year-old daughters. The older one was calm and quiet and ate every 4 hours around the clock. I could nurse anywhere! The younger was my wild child who nursed every hour, fidgeting, fussing, kicking, and pulling away at the slightest distractions. She was sprayed in the face countless times! She also spit up after every feeding- everything I owned smelled of sour milk. I loved every minute!
Enjoy this special time with your baby.

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87 Courtney March 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm

This was a great post! I’m not sure how I came across your blog, but I’m 100% sure we were in the same hospital classes last May. Also, totally creepy, but I also gave birth in Room 10 at MJH and my birth story is insanely similar to your’s! I really enjoy your blog, I’m off to read more :)

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88 KERF March 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Hey Courtney! So fun – when was your baby born?

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89 Courtney March 11, 2013 at 6:03 am

July 14 :) I can’t believe how fast the time is going!

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90 KERF March 11, 2013 at 6:46 am

Agreed!

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91 Gauri May 14, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Hi kath – did you give m any supplements during your first six months of exclusive breast feeding? … Such as vitamin d etc…. Could you let me know that brands you went with if you did supplement?

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92 KERF May 15, 2013 at 8:22 am

We just did Vitamin D at our ped’s recommendation. We used these drops. Please ask your ped for a recommendation!

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93 Danielle December 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Pumping at work sucks. Period. Nothing fun about it. I am a teacher and I am blessed that my off periods align with when I must pump. But, that means all my break time is spent pumping and not getting work done. Cleaning the parts and bottles sucks too.

BUT… it is worth it to give my son my milk when I can not be with him. Even though I am not with him, I am still giving him my best.

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