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Lives in: Sommerville, Massachusetts
Breastfeeding experience: Did what she could, supplemented with formula, happy with how things went
Main challenges: Inverted nipples, lack of support from family, uneven milk supply
Breastfed for: 11 months
I went to a breastfeeding class before giving birth so I could understand the process. It didn't seem all that hard but I wasn't 100 percent sold on its benefits. I basically went into it thinking: This is the cheapest thing to do, and it's a good thing to do. And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work.
I found that breastfeeding was both easy and hard. Watching my newborn son, Jesse, move down to my breast to nurse was amazing. But I worried because I have inverted nipples. I'd already asked some lactation consultants about it and they told me I might need to do some extra work to breastfeed successfully.
In the hospital, the first lactation consultant I saw gave me a nipple shield, which helped. I still remember the pain I felt in my shoulders because I was tense and stressed out about how to hold Jesse and get him to latch on. I felt like I needed to do it exactly right.
I was producing more from the right breast than the left – three times as much. Given this and my inverted nipples, I continued to have questions for lactation consultants. I saw one at my son's pediatrician's office and another at my OB's office. It was helpful because each had different advice that I could try.
My family was supportive of breastfeeding, until it got hard. Within the first week my mother said, "Maybe you should try some formula." And then by three weeks, my sister and my father started saying, "Maybe there's something wrong with your milk."
I eventually did use formula – about two bottles a day. It gave me a bit of a break.
I went back to work when Jesse was 3.5 months, and I pumped three times a day. I have an office to pump in, so I'm lucky that way.
By then we started traveling a lot, too. My mother was seriously ill and we flew down to Kentucky every month. We'd stay with family and schedules were up in the air. I had been strict about Jesse's feeding schedule but couldn't keep it up. He didn't want to nurse as much when we were in Kentucky. I think he was just too distracted. So he began nursing for shorter periods of time and eventually he was nursing fewer times every day.
One day when he was 11 months old we were lying in bed and I tried to feed him. He went to latch on and then reared back with a disgusted look on his face. I had this moment of feeling hurt and rejected but it was also funny, so I was like, "Okay, I get it. We're done." I bottle-fed for a few weeks after that but we were already well on our way to transitioning to a sippy cup.
My biggest lesson learned
Breastfeeding had its challenges and I don't know how I got to the part where it was easy. Getting advice from lactation consultants helped. Just go with it and don't expect too much or have too many rules for yourself.
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