Hey friends! It’s the last week of June and my sweet daughter has reached that 18 month mark. In today’s blog I wanted to give an update on how our breastfeeding journey is going and about some tough decisions I am having to make when it comes to pumping and letting my daughter have her independence. Let’s jump right into it!
First I wanted to start off by letting those of you who don’t know know that I am current expecting our second baby. I am in my 20th week of pregnancy and things are going well so far. This information will play a huge part in what is to be said below.
Breastfeeding update: At 18 months old we are still going strong with breastfeeding and have now adopted the style of nurse-on-demand more than ever before. I have finally reached the point where I am confident in my supply and no longer have a fear of losing it. It has taken me 18 months to get to that point. I no longer worry about going more than three or four hours between feedings/pumping and how that might make my supply stop. This relaxation has played a huge part in being able to just let Penelope nurse when she wants and for however long she wants. Along those lines, this month I finally stopped keeping a time-log of every feeding session and how long she nursed on each side. I have truly adopted the mindset that she just nurses when she wants and for how ever long she wants. I think this mindset was partly my choice to let go of the control, but I think it was largely due to the fact that my daughter is so independent and isn’t afraid to take control of things she has made her mind up about. She has always been this way, but this is the first time where I was sad about the choices she was making. I definitely had to have a come-to-Jesus moment about the fact that she has reached an age where I need to let her have her independence and this is one area I can do that. So I say all this to say that there isn’t a set breastfeeding schedule anymore. I do still ask her if she wants milk every few hours, but if she tells me no then I say OK and will wait and ask again a bit later. For the most part when I am with her she still nurses about every 4ish hours unless she is too busy to stop to nurse and that is totally fine. She for sure nurses when she wakes up, for nap, and at bed time.
When I am working her “schedule” tends to lead towards the following: she nurses when she wakes up. Then she has a cup (about 4-5 ounces) of breast milk around 10am. Then she has another cup of breast milk after her nap around 2pm. I usually then pick her up around 4pm. So after that it’s a nurse-on-demand situation. Usually once between 4-6pm and then again at bed time. The one between 4-6pm varies though on when it happens or even if it happens at all. It really just depends on if she is too busy to stop and nurse.
So now comes the hard part of this blog for me and that is the discussion of my pumping. I want to start this by saying that I completely understand how blessed I have been with my oversupply. It’s that blessing that has made this so incredibly hard. Up until about two weeks ago everything had been the normal for me. I always produced about 5-8 ounces per breast when pumping, and I have been so blessed in that with both nursing and pumping these last 17 months in that I haven’t had any pain, blockages, bleeding nipples, etc. My journey had been pretty amazing. However these last few weeks I have noticed some changes that I can only attribute to the pregnancy and the hormones that come with that. My pumping supply has dropped. I don’t mean dropped an ounce or two, I mean dropped to about an ounce or less combined for both the pumping sessions of both breasts during work. I want to take a moment right now to say that pump output is NOT an indication of supply!! So yes I am not responding to the pump anymore, but my supply is still there. One way that I know is that I can hand express and get milk out and that Penelope is still swallowing milk when nursing. I’m unsure why I’m not responding to the pump anymore though. Because of this, I have had to make some tough decisions.
As some of you might know, because of my oversupply, I have been a milk donor over these last 18 months. I have proudly donated over 10,000 ounces, which is when I stopped counting. I am so thankful that I have been able to bless so many babies and take the stress off so many moms out there. I feel like this is a small something that I was able to do to make this world a little brighter for those in need. I take most joy in that I have been able to donate to my sweet niece for the 7 months she has been alive. I’m going to get so emotional writing this, but there is something so special about this beautiful bond my sister-in-law and I have created through the world of motherhood. This has shown me what ‘it takes a village’ truly means. My amazing sister in law just needed some help with supplementing her supply because while she has a great supply and nurses wonderfully when with her baby, she doesn’t respond great to pumps. The timing of all these different things matching with my blessing of oversupply has shown me God’s beauty in his design for women.
Now at 18 months postpartum with my first baby and half way through my pregnancy with my second baby I have chosen to stop pumping. Obviously this will be a slow process with me going from pumping twice a day at work to once a day and then to none at all over the next month or so, but it’s coming to an end. Thankfully I do still have an entire deep freezer full of breast milk that will be more than enough to get Penelope through two years of age for the times I’m away from her and we will continue to nurse when I’m with her. So personally this isn’t hard because my own daughter’s needs will be met. It’s hard for me that I won’t be able to continue donating my milk. I don’t know why this is hard emotionally for me, but it is. It’s an end to something I am so passionate about and personally connected to due to donating to my niece. In all things motherhood though there are good and bad to every decision. I’m looking forward to having to not think about pumping for a bit before the next baby comes. There is relief in that.
So that’s my update on breastfeeding and pumping. If you’ve made it this far then I commend you. This blog became longer than I expected. I want to end with this: every pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, and pumping journey is different and should be treated as its own. We all will have our own struggles and triumphs with it. I hope in those moments you have moms around you that lift you up in the struggles and that celebrate with you in the triumphs. It does truly take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village of support to help us moms raise that child.
Baby Dust To All,