1 Year Breastfeeding Milestone ACHIEVED - 10 Things I've Learned

I did it! We did it! I made it one year of breastfeeding and we're still going strong. If you'd like to learn more about my feeding journey with both kids, feel free to check out my other posts:

My two feeding journeys were vastly different. My breastfeeding journey has not been easy but, like all things in motherhood, it has been so worth it. I am just so proud and grateful to have been able to have the experience. 

Here are 10 things I've learned along the way:

1. It’s okay to be nervous. 

To be honest, I did not want to breastfeed or even attempt breastfeeding this time around. I actually a bit of anxiety at the thought. Whenever I’d let myself think about it I imagined soreness, bleeding and tears of pain all over again. I did not want that — or to get my hopes up only to have them dashed. I voiced my concerns to my husband and he asked me to just try again and if it didn’t work right away to know it’s okay to stop like I did with S. So, I figured I’d try. I knew it would be difficult but what I didn’t know was how much crucial support my hospital would provide in those first few days. I’m convinced that made all the difference. I could never thank them — or my husband for believing in me — enough. So sure I was scared, but I realized it’s okay to be. I’m glad I didn’t let them stop me, though.

2. Breastfeeding is exhausting and stressful, especially during the first few days and weeks. 

When we got home from the hospital, it seemed like all Baby R wanted to do was nurse. I vividly remember one night sitting in the living room during a three-hour cluster feed. Yes, THREE HOURS. I was so exhausted. And I was stressed. I never felt like I slept enough and then I was so cranky and impatient with my toddler S. It didn’t seem fair to any of us and there were times I just wanted to quit. Little by little, though, I found a routine and started getting more sleep. And woah does sleep do wonders! 

3. My body is capable of wonderful things -- and I should listen to it!

Being able to provide nourishment for my little human offspring has been an amazing experience. I am constantly in awe of mothers' bodies and all they do. Breastfeeding is one more thing that amazes me and makes me feel proud. As such, I’ve learned listening to my body is very important. I paid attention to cues of engorgement, as well as hormonal shifts. A week postpartum my hormones probably dropped immensely because I felt so down and figured it was a bout of baby blues. I cried to my husband to let my emotions out. The day after I felt much better. When I first started weaning my pumping sessions at 10 months, however, I found myself feeling depressed. I couldn’t stand the feelings and so I started pumping again and increased my sessions and felt back to normal. I stopped pumping again at 12 months but really gradually because I wanted to feel better while weaning. These days, I don’t pump but I do nurse whenever I’m with R, which will eventually be decreased to morning and nighttime feeds. 

4. Involve other siblings. 

I tried my best to involve our firstborn, S, in our new routine with the new baby. After all, he was our first baby and his routine and world was being drastically changed. In the first few weeks, S was interested in my milk and asked to taste it. He actually liked it so I’d give him a few ounces here and there in hopes that it made him feel more included — and I figured it had nutritional benefits, as well! S also helped with bottle feedings, which we introduced during the first week because I wanted to avoid issues of transitioning to bottle feeds.  

5. Rest, eat well and stay hydrated. 

You know that saying sleep when baby sleeps and everyone just laughs because it seems —and sometimes is— impossible. Well, I did just that when given the opportunity. Sleep is important for the body, as is a healthy diet and lots of water! I’m not going to lie- my diet was drastically smaller due to stress and feeling so busy but eventually I started making smoothies or small quick meals to be sure to get my veggies in. 

6. Pumping is annoying. 

I don’t have any nice or pretty way to put it. Pumping was my least favorite part of breastfeeding but it was necessary in order to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. My biggest advice would be to pump as much as you can - it increases production and will lessen your stress. Take it from me - because I was so stressed when my freezer stash was super low, which was very often. 

7. It’s okay to supplement!

Okay, so the first time I thought we’d have to give R formula  (at 6 months) I did feel a bit bad. BUT I did not feel nearly as guilty formula-feeding as I did with S because R was exclusively breastfed. We didn’t have to give formula until about 10 months and lo and behold, I felt pretty okay with it. It was only for about two feedings until my production increased again and then we didn’t give any until right around 12 months. Now, he gets cow’s milk while I’m at work and I nurse when I’m with 

8. It’s my favorite part of our bonding. 

Breastfeeding was the best thing for my bonding experience with our second-born. I had SO MANY emotions during my pregnancy with him and really, really worried about loving him equally. It just didn’t seem possible. I really do believe breastfeeding helped regulate my hormones and gave us such an amazing bonding experience that is unique to us. 

9. Relax! 

Stress reduces production. As I’ve mentioned, I was so stressed about breastfeeding especially upon returning to work. I managed to get into a routine with pumping but eventually I got overwhelmed, quit pumping, got sick,anxious and depressed and worked to increased my supply. It really taught me to take care of myself and to rest when I needed to. My babies need me but I can’t be there for them if I’m not feeling well! 

10. Don’t compare your breastfeeding journey to others'.

Breastfeeding doesn’t determine your worth or value as a mom. The everyday moments of motherhood, the way you love and care for your baby and the way YOU mother do.

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