Saturday, June 21, 2008

Breastfeeding a 1 Year Old

Sometimes it's hard to imagine I've been breastfeeding for 12 and a half months.

When Little Legs (well, her legs ARE short) was born I had extreme difficulties in just about every aspect of breastfeeding. She latched on right away (even after a somewhat traumatic birth) -- thanks only to my awesome labor nurse. I do attribute this early latch, especially for a c-section, the key to my success. My nurse, as I was bleeding a profuse amount (that story later) got little one latched on and she went to town. I couldn't sit up due to complications, so it was imperative that someone else help me. After that initial latch, I just couldn't seem to get Little Legs to eat. We started syringe feeding her about 24 hours after her birth (if I remember correctly). After about 48 hours (still syringe feeding, still trying to latch on every couple of hours), she lost more weight than she should have and she had not had a BM in 24 hours. Her bilirubin was still good, so it wasn't that serious. We started giving her formula in bottles, just so she'd not lose any more weight & she'd poop. Thanks to my awesome mom/baby nurse, she pooped! Yea! This nurse coaxed her a little bit, but we really didn't want that nasty stuff building up!

I had lactation consult after lactation only conclusion was that Little Legs needed and wanted only to nurse in front of others. She's still quite fond of that. I learned to breastfeeding in all sorts of strange positions and to do all the "normal" interventions to help with low milk supply (skin-to-skin & water were what I was doing most at this point). We went home on day of life 4. Now, we were supplementing quite a bit, actually I think most of her food was formula (some call it artifical baby milk). I knew this was not what I wanted. I really wanted to breastfeed my baby.

I couldn't give her the birth I dreamed of, so I wanted to give her my milk. At her 1 week check-up, we were given the obligatory formula by the doctor's office. To this, I was very dissapointed. I immediately called one of our hospital's lactation consultants. I knew I needed to be seen. My LC helped me get LL (short for Little Legs) latched on. We recognized my milk supply was a big issue. The LC recommended a prescription medication for my milk supply. My wonderful doctor, Dr. S, called it in to me. But, when I went in for my appointment with her (a couple days after LL's appointment), she suggested fenugreek. Ah ha! I started fenugreek immediately.

Then, we started following-up every couple of days. We'd take their advice, go home, try it, come back, weigh LL, let her eat, weigh her again. This was not a totally smooth process though. There was a day I gave LL a bottle of formula in the lactation office. I was so tired and exhausted.

Finally, on about day 10-13 (I don't remember) my milk "came in." At this point, I was pumping every two hours, feeding LL my milk, followed by formula, what an ordeal. It took about a month (it was 4th of July weekend 2007) when I gave little legs her last bottle of formula. That is the point when I finally relaxed I think. That was, by far, the worst feeding of her entire life. I sat there and cried as I gave her that bottle. She had been nursing for about 3-4 hours straight when we decided to give her a bottle.

That was a huge turning point for me. Something clicked & I just relaxed. I just began to accept that some feedings were going to take a long time. That my baby loves her mommy and wanted to be close. That some feedings were going to be every 30 minutes, all day! I never used formula again.

I've always known I would breastfeed for one year. Many of my friends have breastfed that long. Extended breastfeeding, however, is something I had never thought of. My goal was to avoid formula. Now, my goal is to wean when LL is ready. To me, it's still quitting, even at a year. Because of my struggles, I vowed, very early on, I would never quit.

Breastfeeding does that a great deal of commitment, perseverance, dedication, and most of all -- love. I have an innate desire to do the absolute best thing for my baby -- whether she's 1 day old, 1 year old, or 10 years old. After deciding to breastfeed longer than 1 year, others who have done this start appearing out of no where. I have a cousin & our pediatrician (not the same one in the beginning) who did so.

Well, LL is ready for naptime...more later.

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