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Lives in: Monroe, Michigan
Breastfeeding experience: After a bumpy start, surprisingly easy
Main challenges: Preemie delivery and a fluctuating supply of milk
Breastfed for: 12 months and counting
I never took a breastfeeding class, though I did read about it. I just figured: If it's going to work, it'll work. If not, then no big deal.
My daughter was born five weeks early weighing only 5 pounds. Right away I started pumping because I was worried the nursing wouldn't happen easily. But she surprised everyone with a strong latch and nursed beautifully.
It was meant to be, I told myself. Or maybe not, because suddenly I had too much milk. I started waking up engorged, which was really uncomfortable. So I did a little research and ended up buying a nursing bra. It gave me the support I needed so it wasn't as painful waking up every day.
Then my milk supply dropped precipitously. It was when my daughter was 4 months old and I'd returned to work. I pumped twice during the work day but only had 15 minutes each time because I'm on such a tight schedule.
I guess my body had performance anxiety because during those first weeks back at work I could only produce an ounce at a time. Since I'd read that every little bit counts, I just saved whatever I could pump and supplemented it with formula.
My daughter's almost a year old now and I'm still breastfeeding because we both love it. I nurse her first thing in the morning and still pump twice a day at work. And I nurse her again when I pick her up from my parents' house.
It's an extremely joyful time – she takes her hand and puts it across my chest and smiles. It's our bonding time. We give her solids, too, and she gets bottles of pumped milk when I'm away. We also have a nighttime feeding.
I didn't expect to be nursing this long. And I'm not quite ready to give up. I think it'll be hard to say goodbye.
My biggest lesson learned
Every mother's experience with breastfeeding is different. Try not to get frustrated if you have problems, and take any scary story you hear with a grain of salt. I know I gave it my best shot and was blessed that it worked out. Be proud of trying, no matter the outcome.
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